Why Does America Hate Black People?
“He said, ‘If you're gonna play the game, boy
You gotta learn to play it right’ “ –Kenny Rogers
“Why does America hate black people?” the Fijian man working with me at the resort asks.
“What? They don’t. I don’t. We don’t. Why?” I reply rolling up the yoga mats.
“They keep shooting them. Look,” he hands me his phone.
I read the headline.
“I don’t know anything about it,” I say relieved I don’t have to attempt to sum up America’s issues with race.
But from what I could view on the phone it didn’t look good. Yet somehow not completely shocking.
After traveling thru Indonesia I had ended up teaching yoga in Fiji and intentionally ignored the news, consumed by my recent break up and my own life.
Perhaps it’s time to look at the news and tune back in.
I try searching on my phone for more information.
I think I’m missing something.
I call my girlfriend back home.
“What’s been going on?” I ask.
She tells me of all the shootings.
“There’s more than one?” I ask.
One is bad enough. I shouldn’t have to ask.
“Yeah. It’s horrible. There are videos,” she says.
She proceeded to fill me in with the rest and told me about the movement Black Lives Matter.
My heart sank for the lives lost and then it stayed there. The sadness turned to dread.
“That’s not going to work,” I say.
Now I completely understand the movement and agree with it as it is not denying that all lives matter but trying to draw awareness to action for the specific problem affecting the black community. It’s not to dismiss that police have tough jobs and deserve respect for the work that they do. I understood it then, however, as Dave Chappelle said in his opening SNL monologue, “I know the Whites.”
I could somehow predict the #bluelivesmatter #alllivesmatter #whalelivesmatter as #blacklivesmatter was going to be viewed as divisive. The “blacklash” was inevitably going to come out strong.
The way I view it there were/are 5 ways to view the movement and to respond
1. View it as divisive. Fight against it citing extreme fringes of the movement. Argue about a hashtag. Don’t listen.
2. View it as a right to now openly spew racism that was waiting to be unleashed
3. View it as necessary. Listen and speak up to help others understand it.
4. View it as insignificant to your life. Ignore it all and continue on.
5. View it as understandable but know it will be viewed negatively. Throw your hands up and say it won’t work. Feel bad but do and say nothing.
I went with the last option. I was wrong. I should have gone with the third. Here’s why:
First, It needs to be people like me that understand it and aren’t the one’s impacted to help others see it. In other words I can be more relatable to some that otherwise may brush it off or want to go with the first option of the 5.
Second, it’s my responsibility to play my cards right in “who has the cards?” Now whoever is holding the cards is not better, they are not above the people who aren’t, they just simply have the cards in a particular situation and thus have a responsibility to play them right.
Remember that, as the lyrics go, “Every hand’s a winner. And every hand’s a loser.”
PLAYER 1 (holding the cards) PLAYER 2
White Other races
Christian Other faiths
US Citizen Native Americans/Immigrants
Full Mental Capacity Mental Illness
Intelligent Lower Intelligence
Attractive Viewed Unattractive
Ability to Verbally Communicate Unable to Speak (humans,nature)
This list can go on and on …
Over the course of the next four years, I have a pretty good feeling that other movements are going to rise up and no matter who you are you will be the one left holding the cards.
When this happens I invite you to take a deep breath to ground yourself in reality (the -isms are real), smile through your defensiveness (yes you are a good person even if you didn’t speak up like myself, you still can), and listen to those without the cards. (Yes, I’m sure you have a valid point yourself but first listen.) Listen hard.
You may not want the cards but you got em so listen and learn how to play em right.
And one day, when someone else is holding the cards, they may just play them for you.
Here’s Dave Chappelle’s opening SNL monologue if you missed it or are in need of a laugh.
With Love XX