“Why is it black lives matter and not ALL lives matter?”
This question serves as a distraction and takes away the virtues of a discussion that centers on the oppression faced by black people in modern society. The question asks that we for a second begin to argue the points of why ALL lives matter while turning attention away from the issue at hand. Black people’s lives matter, their history matters, their reality matters, and it matters right now! The discussion about racism and the aftermath of slavery, colonization, and apartheid needs to be had, and with it, we need to have actions that dismantle a society that perpetuates hatred of the black man.
“Slavery ended 400 years ago, apartheid ended 30 years ago, why can you not get over it?” – Silencing
When someone speaks on their oppression, and your automatic response is that they rather keep quiet, it perpetuates a form of silencing. Power lies in the silence of a victim. We are living in a country where black people are still being victims of racism, it is our ingrained right to speak up and have our pain heard. To assume we ought to get over it because legally we are no longer living through colonization or apartheid seeks to erase our history and our current reality. It seeks to silence our experiences and seeks to insinuate that we imagine the racism we endure and live through.
“Black people are not a minority in Africa, so why speak about white privilege?”
– Victim blaming
If you have never had to type the word “black” before what you are searching for in a search engine, you are living white privilege. If you have never had to ward off a shop attendant who follows you everywhere because you look suspicious, as you browse through shopping isles, you are living white privilege. If you have never had to accept earning less as your counterpart because of your skin color, or not get a promotion because you “aren’t ready - which is key for you are black” or smile at a comment like “you speak like a white person”, you are living white privilege. If you have never had to stand and fight for the removal of a “lynching pole” gallows because you did not see how it enacted Afrikaner humor and it only aroused the pain of your black history, you are living white privilege. So, how do we still get to speak about Black Lives Matter as a majority, in an African country? The same way we as a majority were colonized under apartheid and told, you cannot sit on a bench, WHITES ONLY.
When these questions are posed, it is easy to want to rile up in anger, it is easy to want to go headfirst into an argument of how can one not see white privilege and racism for what it is. Anger has been our birthright as children born from the blood of our forefather and our ancestors, it is their blood that waters our freedom, and it is their legacy that affords us the right to sit on a bench that is not marked “for whites only’”.
So, when these questions are asked, it is not my responsibility to teach grown men and women what white privilege or racism is, because a google search, three articles and two YouTube videos later, can teach you that. It makes me believe that ignorance is choice, it has me believing that if you do not want to teach yourself, you must want to live in your ignorance. Yet, it makes me realize one fundamental truth when a matter does not affect you; it is easy to opt to turn a blind eye because ignorance is bliss.
However, when you choose ignorance, you simultaneously say that though your ignorance can stand to oppress, you are okay with that.
“Privilege is when you think something is not a problem because you are not affected personally”. – David Guider
It takes a lot to choose the path of teaching as opposed to condemning. Simply because, anger castigates and ostracizes and allows a fraction of a second for he who sits on the receiving end, to for a second feel how it feels to be black? Judged and assumed to be something simply by your skin color. That is what it feels like to be black.
Find Mavis on Twitter - @mavisbraga
Read Related Articles