Black Lives DO Matter

BLACK LIVES DO MATTER

You say, “All lives matter,”
And of course they do,
But why not support a group
That doesn’t include you?

Should we not listen
To people in pain
When there’s nothing to lose
And so much to gain?

Just because you don’t see
What’s inflicting hurt
Doesn’t mean it’s not there
No need to be curt

Let’s not diminish
We can choose to believe
And lend out our hearts
To neighbors who grieve

This fight is not new
It’s been raging for ages
Since colonists landed
With people in cages

So let’s look at the past
For some cold, hard facts:
This nation was built
On twelve million slaves’ backs

And while this is true
It does not explain
How good, honest people
Were complicit in pain

People cannot exploit
One seen as a peer
An equal’d be freed
As soon as they got here

So, we needed a system
To dehumanize
And for justification
To brutalize

Racism was used
To make white supreme
Black people were barred
From the American Dream

It was not long before
This system would take
And it’s stayed in place
Leaving pain in its wake

It took our deadliest war
To end the charade
The shackles were gone
But the suffering stayed

Bigotry would linger
For centuries still
Long past Appomattox
Racism would kill

We’d see the rise of Jim Crow
And the birth of the Klan
Injustice continued
To spread through the land

Reconstruction’d be halted
We’d vilify curls
And boys would be lynched
For flirting with girls

We’d send Black men to war
And when they’d returned
They couldn’t buy houses
Or spend what they’d earned

A whole new generation
Got left behind
While others built wealth
They were robbed blind

They were told where to live
And had their own schools
They paid higher taxes
And were treated like ghouls

So, yes, slavery halted
But left in its stead
Remained the oppression
It hadn’t stopped dead

The Civil Rights Movement
Didn’t cure this infection
It was just a good step
In the right direction

It’s not like all wanted
To hear MLK
Racism continued
And it still does today

Progress was made
That much is true
But it’s not time to rest
There’s still so much to do

We’ve more steps to take
To make it all right
This cannot be done
If we hide it from sight

We must accept the past
And acknowledge mistakes
Or we’re doomed to repeat
History’s heartaches

To make real change
We really must learn
That Racism’s more
Than when crosses burn

It’s a lie that was spread
To make it feel fine
To own human beings
And treat them like swine

We can’t just snap our fingers
To fix all that damage
It’ll take total investment
To get rid of this baggage

Turn your eyes inward
Can you not see
How inequity still taints
The land of the Free?

As a straight white man
I can clearly see
The currents of history
That have benefited me

That’s not to imply
That I did not suffer
And had to work hard
To fully recover

Indeed, we’re all challenged
To varying degrees
But most of our grandparents
Weren’t forced to their knees

And for those who have suffered
You should know all the more
Just what it’s like
To hurt to your core

So, what harm could come
From humbling yourself
And asking the question
“How can I help?”

Do you too have the courage
To see painful truths
And acknowledge your privilege
And all of its roots?

We need not feel guilty
For history’s crimes
But we can still work together
Toward better times

You’re not a bad person
For not seeing your role
As part of a system
That’s still out of control

It takes nothing away
It can only get better
To boldly proclaim that
Black Lives do Matter

Epilogue:

I know that this is not an easy topic to discuss, let alone to look square in the face. Thus, I would just like to add this disclaimer. Not that I need to. This is my website, after all. So, I could just say screw anyone who disagrees, but, honestly, such sentiment would be antithetical to the core of my belief system. I think it’s gotten too easy to label those who disagree as idiots or bigots or thugs, and, to me, those labels do nothing but dehumanize. My goal is the opposite. So, here we go.

As the son of a federal magistrate judge, I have spent my life surrounded by law enforcement officers. I have several friends, some very close, who wear a badge, and I am incredibly proud of them. They run into dangerous situations and risk everything to keep people safe. I support them with my whole heart.

At the same time, I wholeheartedly support the BLM movement. How is this possible? Strangely, it is possible to care about more than one thing at the same time. It is possible to recognize that people and issues are complex and that no one person defines all. Thus, I have the capacity to recognize the good, selfless LEOs and not lump them in with the bad ones, just as I have the ability to not let a few violent agitators define the BLM movement.