If you’ve turned on the news or been outside in the last year, you’ll surely know that we have a race relations problem in our country. Odds are, you’ll be on one of two sides: #BlackLivesMatter or #AllLivesMatter – and I am the exact same way.
Sorry to say, however that up until a few months ago, I considered myself to be an All Lives Matter person. I thought, “Why are these black people putting themselves above us and inconveniencing everyone in the process?” Even today, I hear others echoing these testaments, from the bustling streets of the city all the way down to my small town’s Facebook group.
This way of thinking, the way I’ve been thinking of life, changed for me after taking a class entitled Media, Race & Identity. Each week we would sit down and have a 2 hour discussion: what is going on with race today? How is everyone feeling about it? We had a diverse group in that class – from people believing that BLM has no right to protest on highways, malls, or other spaces, to the opposite side that believes we need to scrap the government and start completely over.
Very gradually my opinions shifted from the former to more of a middle ground (scraping the entire government just sounds like a little too much work for me, or anyone to do). My opinions truly shifted after one student used an analogy, which is worth sharing here. I don’t remember the exact wording, but it was something along the lines of:
“Suppose it’s veterans day. You see people waving flags, shaking the hands of our soldiers and mourning the loss of others, when someone walks up to you and says that they don’t believe in thanking veterans today, but instead all Americans. You’d think that person had a screw loose, would you not? Well, I get that exact same feeling when someone responds to the BLM movement by saying All Lives Matter”
When I say Black Lives Matter, I don’t mean to denigrate or to say that other minority’s lives or even white lives matter any less, I am just saying that there is a systemic racial prejudice in place that we need to notice.
If you’re still working on Seeking to Understand the movement, even if you just need a tool to share with your peers, I would suggest the Macklemore song, “White Privilege II.” After taking my class and hearing this, I felt I could truly understand where Black Lives Matter is coming from, and am now proud to stand up in support of the movement.
“We take all we want from black culture, but do we show up for black lives?” -Macklemore – White Privilege II.
Nick Mabee is a junior attending the University of Minnesota Twin Cities majoring in Communication Sciences with an emphasis on Business and Cultural Communications. He is also a Leadership Minor Student and a Student Associate with the Minor.