Of Course All Lives Matter

Of Course All Lives Matter

All lives matter, but not all lives are treated equally by the system
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Let me start off by saying that I don't pretend to know everything about the state of race in our country. In fact, I know very little. I do know that we have a problem--a very serious one, and it drives me up the wall when people refuse to acknowledge it. And if I, a privileged middle-class white person, get annoyed by it, I cannot imagine the frustration that people of color must feel day in and day out.

I, again, a privileged white person, am so sick of seeing Black Lives Matter posts, because they all end up with someone saying "All Lives Matter." If it makes me want to flip tables and collectively slap everyone who says it, I cannot imagine how people of color feel.

Because the Black Lives Matter movement is about genuine problems that exist in this country, and it's an attempt to bring attention to those problems so we can start to work on a solution. Every time it is mentioned, every time I see the beginnings of a potentially productive conversation about the systemic racial issues we have in this country, I almost immediately see some ignorant privileged white person ruining it for everyone.

Don’t be offended by that. I am also an ignorant, privileged white person. I always will be, no matter how hard I try to understand, because I don't live it. If you're white too, you don't live it either. It doesn’t matter what bullying or discrimination you may have experienced, it is not the same thing.

So this one is for the people who end those conversations and dismiss the Black Lives Matter movement. From one privileged white person to another, I think we need to clear a few things up.

1) Of course all lives matter

You are not a genius or any sort of clever for holding this sentiment. Life matters. That's obvious. Saying this does not make you sound like you care about everyone. That is not up for debate. It makes you sound like you only care about white people.

2) Understand the purpose of Black Lives Matter

How it's meant: black lives matter (too)

How it's often misunderstood: (only) black lives matter or black lives matter (more)

Nobody is saying that black lives matter more. They are saying they are equally as important as other lives. The reason this is necessary is because we white people have royally screwed everyone else in this country over for hundreds of years. We've created a system where black lives (and those of other minorities) are treated as though they matter less, not just through discrimination and prejudice but by actually killing them off and imprisoning them in ridiculously high numbers. Again, this is not up for debate. We may believe that all lives matter equally, but our system demonstrates, time and time again, that some lives matter more than others.

3) All Lives Matter is a dismissal

Saying that all lives matter dismisses the problem, and that’s not ok.

Let's change the situation a bit. Imagine a world with two types of dogs. Dalmatians are fed enough and given loving homes and played with regularly, while Chihuahuas are fed leftover scraps and kept in kennels all day long. I think this is wrong and I say to a friend, "This needs to stop. Chihuahuas are important." They reply, "All dogs are important." What just happened? They just ignored my point completely. They did not acknowledge the problem, and they basically suggested that there was nothing wrong to begin with.

It is the same with saying all lives matter. When you say that, you're saying that we don't have any problems with race in this country, that everything is fine the way it is. And maybe you think that, but if you do, you're wrong. You've been blinded by privilege. But you had to find out eventually, and now you can make a change.

You have to make a change. Ignoring the problem is the same thing as contributing to the problem. If you are not actively working against racism and injustice, you are contributing to it. You are allowing it to happen. You are complicit.

5) Educate yourself

I'd like to stress once again that I don't know very much about race. And neither do a lot of white people. But the best way to know more is to read. Read articles, books, etc. written by people of color. Talk to people of color after you've read a bit. Do not just ask your non-white friends to explain race to you. It's too complicated.

Ask people about their stories and actually listen. Seriously. Listening is key. Not listening to disagree or argue back later or listening until it's your turn to talk, listening to really understand.

A good place to begin understanding is to understand the privileges you have being white. Peggy McIntosh wrote an article about this. It's short, an easy read, and also eye-opening. Then, if you're ready to really dig in, here is a collection of resources that are a good place to start.

If all of that seems like too much (even though it shouldn't be) just do me one favor. Stop saying all lives matter. Even idiots know that all lives matter. Nobody wants to sound like an idiot, so just don’t say it. It's degrading, dismissive, and disrespectful. If you really believe that all lives matter equally, support Black Lives Matter, so that we can change our system to reflect the equal value of human life.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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A Little Skepticism Goes A Long Way

Be informed citizens and verify what you see and hear.

rahma
rahma
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These days more than ever before we are being bombarded constantly by a lot of news and information, a considerable amount of which is inaccurate. Sometimes there's an agenda behind it to mislead people and other times its just rumors or distortion of the facts. So, how do you sift through all this and get accurate information? How can you avoid being misled or brainwashed?

This is an important topic because the decisions each of us make can affect others. And if you are a responsible citizen your decisions can affect large numbers of people, hopefully positively, but negatively as well.

It's been said that common sense is not something that can be taught, but I am going to disagree. I think with the right training, teaching the fundamentals behind common sense can get people to have a better sense of what it is and start practicing it. All you will need is to improve your general knowledge and gain some experience, college is a good place for that, then add a little skepticism and you are on your way to start making sensible decisions.

One of the fundamental things to remember is not to believe a statement at face value, you must first verify. Even if you believe it's from a trusted source, they may have gotten their info from a questionable one. There's a saying that journalists like to use: "if your mother said, 'I love you' you should verify it.'" While this is taking it a bit too far, you get the idea.

If you feel that something is not adding up, or doesn't make sense then you are probably right. This is all the more reason to check something out further. In the past, if someone showed a picture or video of something that was sufficient proof. But nowadays with so many videos and picture editing software, it would have to go through more verification to prove its authenticity. That's not the case with everything but that's something that often needs to be done.

One way of checking if something sounds fishy is to look at all the parties involved and what do they have to gain and lose. This sometimes is easier to use when you're dealing with a politics-related issue, but it can work for other things where more than one person/group is involved. For example, most people and countries as well will not do something that is self-destructive, so if one party is accusing the other of doing something self-destructive or disadvantageous then it's likely that there is something inaccurate about the account. Perhaps the accusing party is setting the other one up or trying to gain some praise they don't deserve.

A lot of times all it takes is a little skepticism and some digging to get to the truth. So please don't be that one which retweets rumors or helps spread misinformation. Verify before you report it.

rahma
rahma

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