A thank you to white people who recognize themselves as part of the problem

All lives matter, but right now we are talking about Black lives

In July, occasional contributor to Huffington Post, John Halstead, wrote an article titled, The Real Reason White People Say ‘All Lives Matter.’ In his article, he makes the point that many white people continue to disregard the slogan ‘Black Lives Matter’ because the word ‘black’ makes them feel uncomfortable.

Many whites counter: “I don’t see color,” “I’m color blind.” When in reality, that’s a lie; you are only finding a way to feel safe and to escape from your discomfort. You are refusing to see and accept a black person for who they really are. Saying ‘All lives matter’ completely erases what the black community is trying to convey.

In America today, there is a never ending cycle of corrupt police officers abusing power and taking the lives of innocent minorities. Sadly, this is not news; we’ve seen it in many cases, from Tamir Rice, to Sandra Bland, and most recently, with Tyre King and Terence Crutcher – case after case of innocent American civilians losing their lives too soon.

In response, protests have reinforced the stance against the police killings of unarmed blacks in America. Musicians like Kendrick Lamar, and T.I. and have created songs about this genocide in America. Colin Kaepernick, a NFL football player, refuses to stand with the National Anthem, a conscious decision that has spread to other teams throughout the country, as well as various school districts.

Movements like the Black Lives Matter one have broken out not only across the country, but internationally. That said, it seems that whenever blacks stand up for their rights, people take issue with it.

Minorities utilizing their first amendment to stand up for their rights is problematic to those who do not categorize themselves as black, hispanic, etc. When minorities stand up for their rights, people take issue. When minorities get into a position of authority within governing walls, people take issue.

There are few who have the same outrage towards police brutality as they do when people protest in regards to race relations in America. There are far too many people trying to disguise racism as patriotism, who refuse to acknowledge that white privilege exists, and refuse to recognize that the Black Lives Matter movement is sticking to one specific message – all lives matter, but right now we are talking about black lives.

The black community cannot run from discomfort in the same way that the white community can. As Halstead points out, we need to say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ because right now it is clear that many white people do not see the racial injustices in this country, and if they do, they refuse to speak up about it.

When you decide to adopt slogans like “Blue Lives Matter,” or “White Lives Matter,” you are making it easier for yourself to feel comfortable. When you say you are not racist, but you sit back and turn a blind eye to the current events in the black community and its policing, you are working actively to make yourself more comfortable; needless to say you are a part of the problem.

Never forget that you have the privilege of running from your discomfort. Think about how most minorities feel in a position where their own country opposes the color of their skin.

So thank you Halstead, for recognizing your place in this fight and doing something about it instead of making yourself comfortable.

Thank you to everyone out there who has not chosen to stay silent. Thank you for acknowledging that there is tension. Thank you for acknowledging the real issues when it comes to the syntax and what is taken away when people say ‘All lives matter.’ Thank you to those white people who are able to recognize themselves as part of the problem, for embracing your discomfort and working with your peers to grow and build better relationships with the black community.

Rochester Institute of Technology