By TMoM Team Member Dennette Bailey
As an African American woman, I have many feelings regarding the deaths and maltreatment of so many people of color in the United States by people in authority. However, my primary thoughts tend to focus on the future. Future thinking is a coping mechanism I developed way too early in my childhood, I think, but it was required because of all the trauma I was experiencing. So now I am thinking about the future even though the present is enough to ponder itself.
When I think of the people that call themselves my friends, my future thinking puts me right back in that childhood state of trauma. There is where people show me themselves and I am like a kid again – seeing someone I thought to be a friend as who they really are – a foe. I can develop another coping mechanism because I am strong. I have had my faith since I was a youngster, and so my sadness is really for my foe and not myself. My faith tells me I will be fine even though the child in me wants all my friends, of all the races perceived by man, to play together.
While I am thankful for my white friends who have always expressed their heart felt sentiment that all people are equally children of God and equally valuable, I am saddened by the whites that (and maybe I misunderstood their kindness) appeared to be my friends but express anger and or apathy that people of color want justice and peace. Certainly, I may be making a judgment here as to the interpretation of their actions. But how else can one know a person’s true feelings except by their actions?
I am sad that my foes seem to be so worried about what they will lose, they cannot see that peace is how we all win. In case you are a white person wondering if you are a foe or a friend, I will tell you that I am not favoring a any political party. However, a person of a specific political party came up with the slogan “Black Lives Matter” just like a person of a specific political party came up with the slogan “Just Do It” or “Where’s the Beef” or” Because You’re Worth It”- and we do not think of their political affiliation before we purchase the items represented by these slogans. The slogan Black Lives Matter means just what it says. It does not say black lives matter more than other lives. If my child were to ask me if her life matters to me, I would not reply yes but my life matters too. My child would simply be asking me “Do you see me; do you value me?” and of course my answer is yes.
Imagine if a white person would have stood up for justice first and coined the slogan “All Lives Matter.” People of color would have embraced this slogan, but that is not what happened and that opportunity has passed. Instead, as a result of repeated injustice, black people have had to say our lives matter. For the foes that also counter that blacks have had a chance to recover and we are hurting ourselves, I’ll ask you, “Do you know a whole group of people that have had trauma passed down to them that does not need help? If you help abused animals, abused children, abused women, abused waters etc., why don’t you want to help black people who have been ‘abused’ right here in these United States?”
And friends, please let me help you see what a demonstration of your support for the cause is not. If you post pictures on social media or have conversations with people of color pointing out the black officers who have died in the line of duty, or the little children of many colors playing together, but you have never posted anything positive about a black person before the protest, that is not a demonstration of support.
It is understood that some may not know how to respond. A healthy and supportive response is to listen to your friends of color by reflecting on their posts and asking questions. That is how we know you want to learn, and that you want to support our cause.
My hope is that our future is one where we support each other. Instead of posting only pictures of little children of different races playing together, we will post pictures of adults of different races (who are really friends) playing together.
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