This is not a moment, not just a movement, but what artists call, “a renaissance.” Unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the past, this is an all hands on deck intersectional, multi-generational worldwide community of people that are transformative oriented, educated by google, armed with cell phones, communicating in unseen networks, at a speed that no one opposing force can keep up with.
It started as a cry of anguish, echoing up a demand, “You are either with us or against us,” and through empowerment- there is a new undercurrent of, “We will do this, with or without your support, but make no mistake that change is happening.” This movement has my undeterred support and I will exhaust all legal efforts to push reform in my community as an ally who understands that saying, “we are equal,” does not negate that many of us- across all demographics, gender identities, classes and political stances- have not, and are not treated equally.
I may not agree with how some citizens choose to act, I may not like some of the things that result, I may not be comfortable in the process, but I will not stand in the way- because I agree there is deep seated racial pain that many Americans choose not to address, for the sake of ease in their own lives. I am not protesting in the streets, I’m having the uncomfortable conversations in the home and with close friends. I’m not out rioting, I’m conversing with educators on what we need to do. I’m not looting, I’m listing who I need to call after the last week of school is over. I am not speaking for others, I’m acknowledging that I’m with others in accepting that this is my problem, too.
We are here as Americans, in this moment, because we don’t collectively listen with open hearts to all. We respond in ways charged by our own experiences and ideals, and no, that reality alone doesn’t make any of us racist.
You should voice your beliefs, you should advocate for others, you should listen to all perspectives without prejudice, you should recognize the pain in any life lost, you should appreciate the history that built America and brought us to where we are now- not just the history you agree with.
And notice how I said, “your” without defining the “what” or the “how.” No single movement, organization, political party, or president can fix every issue on the table. If you believe that all lives matter, because they do, then advocate for our police, for our soldiers, for our teachers, for our politicians, for our doctors, for our historians, for our artists- not just complain, ADVOCATE. Get involved for every citizen who just wants to live their life, make mistakes, grow, learn, love their neighbors, and love their families. Recognize that they have differences in race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, education, finances, home life and upbringing- and that you cannot say, “All,” then, follow in your heart with, “but, not those people.”
I believe that people are good and there are very few with evil intent. I believe people are human. I believe humans make mistakes in progress, while they build and break elements of society. But, I don’t believe we are all treated equally by all. You can say, your life is a result of your choices, but what happens when the choices of others keep you from recognizing your options? I know some of my students, children ages 5-12, fearfully believe the police might kill them for their skin color one day. Those fears can’t be quelled with a few kind words, and fears like those limit their human potential.
I’d like you to involve yourself in how your own community shapes this conversation and makes decisions, it shouldn’t be decided by one perspective. Silence=Violence is not a threat, it’s an acknowledgement that silence, the lack of voices, has perpetuated the biases that allow unnecessary violence.
I’d like you to get to the ‘why’ of your own feelings, not just the now of what you feel. Look for the ‘why’ in others, not just acknowledge that they are pissing you off.
I want you to know that your life matters, and I have nothing but love for you as we reluctantly wade through this mess that many of us believe shouldn’t exist.
My black students, my black teachers, my black principal, my black neighbors, my black friends, and every black person I don’t know deserves to see hope in their generational future where skin color holds no one back and this discussion exists only in a history class.
When black history, heroes, knowledge, culture, art, stories, and voices matter as much as white, then I will say “All lives matter” in the context of this movement. But until then, all lives can’t matter until black lives matter.
Your white art teacher