I don’t find the term “all lives matter” very helpful. To me, it is society’s way of saying, “Grow up. We all have issues. Stop complaining.” This is why I think people in the “black lives matter” and the “blue lives matter” campaigns are super brave. Both groups are just drawing attention to the unique challenges they face from being members of their groups. I aspire to that kind of courage because I know it isn’t easy.
Black people are not saying that they are the only people who face injustice and struggles. They are just trying to give voice to the unique ways in which these things play out for their particular group. Black people have struggles. White people have struggles. Asians have struggle. Latinos have struggles. Native Americans have struggles. All races and ethnicities have struggles and face forms of injustice. However, each group experience them differently. There are a disproportionately number of black people in our criminal system compared to any racial group in America. When the population is taken in consideration, black people are twice as likely to be shot by law enforcement. With these facts, it is no wonder this community struggles with alienation. Anger, fear, and hopelessness are natural results of this state.
The same is true for police officers. They are not saying that their profession is the only profession in which they face mounting frustrations, public misunderstandings, and job limitations. Teachers have the similar issues. The military has similar issues. Health care workers have similar issues. Truck drivers have similar issues. Government employees have similar issues. Even CEOs have these issues. We have these issues in all professions, but they do play out differently for each workforce sector.
The “blue lives matter” campaign is just bringing up the particular ways that these issues are played out for their group. The fact that police officers risk their lives on a regular basis is a reality that effects this group in all kinds of way. The fact that people are being shot for just being police officers is why this group is feeling so much anger and fear.
We don’t like talking about differences because they make us uncomfortable. We are uncomfortable because we think the focus of such talk is about blaming. However, for many, the true purpose of such discussions is to bring about connection and possible solutions.
How do I know all of this? Simple. I have a disability, and discussing disability issues with people outside of this community is really, really hard.
When I talk about inaccessibility, transportation issues, integration, healthcare choices, and stereotypes, I am not saying the disability community is the ONLY community who face these struggles. What I am saying is that how we experience these things is different than other communities. We are isolated because we literally can’t get from point A to point B due to a lack of accessible sidewalks and transportation. Most homes are not accessible which means we are disconnected from family and friends. We are twice as likely to be in poverty, and 4 times as likely to be victimized. These issues are real, and when they are not acknowledged, many of us do feel angry, frustrated, and hopeless.
When people say that all Americans face challenges, I feel like the struggles of my community are not seen as important or damaging. In fact, it sends the message that the actual people in my community are not as important.
I can only assume that this is how other groups feel. Can we just stop the denial and just acknowledge that we all face injustice but not in the same way? This would lead to greater connection, which could lead to finding better solutions.
I applaud the people who dare to talk about any type of communal injustice and frustration because it is messy and emotional. It is my prayer that I communicate better what my community experiences. I tend to hold back a lot because I don’t like to create too much uncomfortableness. However, I must ask myself, “What’s so wrong with creating uncomfortableness?” I mean, God is constantly asking us to do the uncomfortable.
Sigh, being human is so complex…