Revolution usually comes through interruption. It is, by definition, an interruption of the status quo. While interrupting speeches and screaming one's demands in public forums is not my desired style of influence, nor am I a fan rioting, protesting, or advocating for fairness with threats like "justice or else", I must admit that even bridge builders grow weary of the status quo when change seems to move at a glacial pace.
The Black Lives Matter movement has made a significant impact on our culture in a surprisingly short period of time. Would we be forced to face the insidious nature of institutional racism without the relentless protests of the past several months?
Would the status quo for blacks who are killed by cops remain untouched without video evidence to force us to pay attention? What about the recent video of a high school police resource officer dragging a female student across a classroom floor? Does this ever get old? Are we immune? How bad has it been before everyone had video recording capabilities on their phones? Would the division among racial groups, evidenced in brash rhetoric and political discord, continue to be invisible to the majority of Americans without Black Lives Matter? It's sad to say, but I don't think so. Without the omnipresence of social media and the disruption of the Black Lives Matter movement, the status quo would remain unchanged.
Such status quo demands that blacks stop whining, become more positive, and less confrontational. If only we behaved with more respectability we could have more peace, less riots and everything could be normal again. The status quo likes the normality of success for those who are separated from the reality of poverty, violence, and at-risk living. The status quo works well for those who are well off. I like my cul de sac and garage. I enjoy the beauty of autumn trees and quiet walks with no sense of fear.
But what about the fear that dwells in those who worship in black churches on city blocks patrolled by police who may not attend those churches? What about the fear of those parents who are concerned about the inferior education that mires their children in a cycle of poverty in devastating zip codes?
Black Lives Matter, while crucial and effective, cannot be a campaign exclusively of and for black people. This must be a movement for all of our lives and we must define this movement as an ALL-AMERICAN solution to an ALL-AMERICAN problem: institutional racism and systemic favoritism.
Here are three ways to do it:
First, we must see that poor people, and specifically poor people of color, must be given extraordinary assistance and grace that will help lift up the community. In my opinion, we should sanction churches and other "on the ground" organizations as forces for good that can empower local communities.
Second, we must all join the spirit of the Black Lives Matter movement even if we disapprove of the tactics. Not all are comfortable with interruption and disruption, but we can all respond by joining the conversation and figuring out how to help lift others up.
Third, we must go beyond just "Black Lives Matter". We must start there but then guarantee that we as bridge builders will seek to lift up any and every victimized group we can. Our goal as "gracists" must be to extend favor to all who are on the margins regardless of, maybe even because of, color, class, or culture.
If it is true that all lives matter, and I believe it is, then let's prove it by demonstrating our care for the lives that have mattered the least in America...Black Lives.