The time has come for some light to be shed on what it means when someone says the phrase "Black Lives Matter".

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Joe Kelly posted a meme today that clearly hit a nerve with some. The meme includes a sign that says "Black Lives Matter. Treat racism like COVID-19. 1) Assume you have it. 2) Listen to experts about it. 3) Don't spread it. 4) Be willing to change your life to end it."

The first few comments all share the same sentiment: "Well, don't all lives matter?"

That's a question the Black Lives Matter movement is met with most often, I would imagine. Not that I have ANY idea or comprehension about what it means to be a black person in this country. I grew up during a time in society that, whether purposefully or not, still perpetuated racial stereotypes that are literally HUNDREDS of years old and built on years of misinformation and mistrust. For example, I have never experienced the feeling of walking down the street only to hear every car's doors lock because the drivers were afraid of me because of the color of my skin. I've never been followed around a store because it was assumed that I would attempt to steal something.

I'm sure at some point in my life, I've been insensitive to someone that does not share my background. Regardless of ethnicity, we've all done something that may be culturally offensive to someone else. What have I done to make sure these situations are few and far between? I've educated myself.

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Which leads to the second point of the post: Listen to experts about it. When you step out of the shadow of ignorance and into the light provided by a solid education on a topic, especially racism and racial injustice within the judicial system, you begin to understand how saying "black lives matter" doesn't negate your life's meaning. In an effort not to be a part of the problem, but part of the solution, (i.e - number 3 on the poster), helping to shed light on the true meaning of the Black Lives Matter movement may help others understand that YES, ALL LIVES DO MATTER. However, like I mentioned before, my life isn't the one that's threatened just by me living my life. Again, I'm not the one people follow around a store afraid that I'm a thief. I'm not the one people assume is violent. I'm not the one that people are afraid of walking down the street, so they lock their doors. Finally, once you step out of the shadow of ignorance, you begin to take a look at the values and principles of those you surround yourself with. Sometimes, you have to cut those people loose. Enlightening your mind can result in the loss of friendships, experiences, so many things. However, are those people or experiences worth having if it's at the expense of your fellow man? It doesn't matter what your opinion is of George Floyd. Whether you believe him to be a "criminal" or not, the man didn't deserve to die in that way. This country was founded on the belief that everyone deserves a fair trial. Mr. Floyd didn't even get that. If he were a white man, we may not even be having this conversation right now. You can perpetuate racism without meaning to do so. We may not even realize when we've perpetuated a stereotype because society has taught us all to be wary of each other. You can accidentally do something that may be offensive to somebody else without even realizing you've done so. There's nothing wrong with educating yourself. The only people who don't try to put themselves in another's shoes are those who believe themselves superior to others.  

The fact of the matter is this: just because your life isn't in the spotlight right now doesn't mean it is of any LESS value.



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