Who Really Matters?

Blackout Tuesday, USA. 2020.

You and I are similar. We want to be seen. We want to be known. We want to be important. We need proof that our very existence matters.

We’ve eagerly sought the approval of our family, friends, and lovers alike. We’ve raced home with our report cards, nervously anticipating our parents’ reactions. We’ve lost precious sleep, reveling in the playful antics friendship may only bring in the wee hours of the morning. We’ve pursued all brands and likenesses of adventure to impress our partners.

But, we may also differ in many ways. I am privileged by most classic regards. I’m white, heterosexual, and English is my first language. I’m able bodied, college educated, and I have reliable access to healthcare.

And still, I’ve suffered. I’ve been abused. I’ve been abandoned. I’ve been bullied. And maybe you have been, too.

Modern American culture has continually supported my personal recovery. From the tune of popular radio, the screens of Hollywood cinema, to the pages of treasured novels; stories of triumph are plastered in white. The overwhelming representation of my race (and general experience) has implied one very clear, yet forsaken message: white people matter.

We’re over-represented in the media, in post-secondary education enrollment, and in white-collar management positions. Even some of the most liberal members of our race proudly insist they ‘don’t even see color’. This can only mean their lens of whiteness is assumed of all surrounding culture; stifling it, instead of acknowledging and valuing the unique experiences of our black communities.

Our black brothers and sisters have not been represented. They have not been supported. They have not been treated equally.

Instead, they’ve been repeatedly downtrodden by design. They may be discriminated against, assaulted, and even murdered in broad daylight. The War on Drugs, the calculated food deserts, and the exclusion from legitimate economies are the second generation of segregation.

Black America has heard one message loud and clear: black lives do not matter.

Yet, of course, black lives do matter. Their worth is inherent. It is because of the significance of their being, of their breathing, and of their knowing. It is because of their history, their present, and their future. It is also because of their color (not despite it; as differences in color and culture DO exist, and should be celebrated accordingly). It is because they are human. And so are we, right? Right?

The concept that Black Lives Matter is confusing for white people. For, we’ve been so drunk on mattering that we haven’t been concerned with the experience of black America.

But, that’s not quite true, is it? White people know the devaluing of black culture is conditional for the continuance white privilege. Because truly, white lives haven’t just mattered. They’ve mattered more.

White people are no longer the sole authors of Western history. Its time to reckon with the design of the system.

It’s time to share our humanity. And, in order to balance the scale, we must work towards equality in the truest sense.

Black Lives Matter. Making black lives matter equally must be the priority.

“Americans of good-will, the nice decent church people, the well-meaning liberals, the good-hearted souls who themselves would not lynch anyone; must begin to realize that they have to be more than passively good-hearted. More than church-goingly Christian. And much, much more than word-of-mouth in their liberalism.”

Langston Hughes, 1943.