Life matters

My headspace is inundated by a topic that has been saturating the media like wildfire in the past few days and really for the past few years. My blog is my space and my words are intended to express my personal thoughts and beliefs. They may be opposite or different than yours, but I expect you to be able to entertain thoughts that are different from your own. If we can not attempt to understand other people’s opinions on controversial matters, we are doomed to this cycle of  hatred, violence, protest and pain. Social media has allowed people an outlet to unload their emotions before they have the time to properly reflect, educate, research and compose themselves. I don’t blame anyone who releases their emotions, especially their hurt emotions, but I do implore everyone to remember that one voice, your voice, does make a difference, whether you choose to acknowledge that or not. What you spread onto the internet has far reaching repercussions for the morale, stigmas, and social movements happening in our country and around the world. Just because some people cannot artfully and respectfully verbalize their opinion does not mean that people who can should be silenced. We need more solutions and we need more voices, stop complacently watching as this horror unfolds.

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I am involved in an incredible online community where women from all over the world join together in their love for traveling. In this extremely active community, we often address the issues of the world and breaking news in a manner that relates and reflects on how it affects us as global citizens and travelers. The conversation was sparked about the recent murders of two African American males in the past two days in the United States and as usual, many different and emotionally charged comments were presented.

Many women posted articles and opinions and a discussion formed about the “Black Lives Matter” movement and the “All Lives Matter” counter criticism. I tried to read the articles and remain open to different perspectives. I read a few articles that I believe are extremely eye opening and  beneficial to read despite your stance on the subject. In a message board on Reddit.com the user, Geek Aesthete, artfully describes that the “Black Lives Matter” movement has an implicit “too” not an implicit “only”. Another blogger, Tyler Huckabee,  at relevantmagazine.com eloquently reminds us how important context is in this campaign. Again, “Black Lives matter” does not need the answer “All lives matter” because that is negating and dismissive to the current situation and context at hand. Huckabee states,“There is a difference between true and relevant”. Charles P. Pierce on esquire.com also acknowledges that All lives matter is not infact an appropriate response or movement and Pierce says,

“ Too much All Lives Matter rhetoric has been shot through with excusing even the most egregious and deadly police misconduct because of the “dangerous job” that police have in controlling not only actual criminals, but the spectral predators in the common mind.”

After reading close to 20 different articles from a variety of platforms, authors, opinions and subject matter and a heated two hour long phone phone conversation with my mom in America, I will humbly attempt to raise my voice in hopes to make a difference.

Before I read these articles, I can openly admit I was thrown off by the #blacklivesmatter campaign. Thrown off is the only way I can describe it. I didn’t feel like it was right or wrong. I just felt like it seemed counterproductive. The range of perspectives showed me that everyone attaches different personal meaning and significance to social campaigns of this magnitude and most importantly at least the Black lives matter was allowing the conversation to happen and the injustice to be addressed.

Do I believe we have an emergency in our country with explicit racism and subconscious and embedded racism that lingers though our government, schools, culture and society? Of course. Do I believe that black lives matter? Without a doubt. Do I believe that African American people have a right to feel marginalized and unsafe? Absolutely. Have I witnessed the effects of racism in my own country? More times then I can possibly count. Do I believe that we are effectively addressing, expressing and channeling our efforts into concrete and substantial methods and movements to create change and evoke solidarity in our country? No.

In light of the debates and controversy over gay marriage laws and the continued discrimination and marginalization of  the LGBT community many similar social campaigns have been ignited and spread through the media. #Loveislove is one of the most popular and widely used hashtag for the campaign fight for equality for the LGBT community. The hashtag is not #Gayloveislove. It is unifying. Hear me out- when people respond with All lives matter, I don’t believe that should be seen as an attempt to discount the fact that black lives matter. I understand that Black lives matter is meant to highlight that in our society, black lives don’t seem like they matter as much because of what the media chooses to display and the overall lingering injustices that have existed in our society since slavery. But, I think that is the fault in the movement itself. The movement itself should be focused on UNIFYING the marginalized race and uniting all American people whether they are black, white, Asian, blue or purple. You can’t fight for equality while simultaneously differentiating your race based only on race.  By marginalizing your group in hopes of promoting solidarity it makes it more difficult for people who are “outsiders” to the race to be your advocates, champions and supporters.

#Loveislove acknowledges that no matter if you have a boyfriend, girlfriend or you’re not sure if you are a boyfriend or a girlfriend- love itself is a respected core value of our country and human race that should be cherished, valued and revered. Reading the opinion on Reddit about the implicit black lives matter, “too” totally opened my eyes to that message and perception of the campaign.  I agree wholeheartedly black lives matter, too.  But I think the aim and the purpose of that statement is to eliminate color from the conversation at all, to find equity, not increased marginalization. These are campaigns to evoke feeling, empathy, attention and respect for the injustices happening right in front of our faces. It serves all of us to empower everyone to stand up to the injustices as a unit where we all feel respected, included, and a sameness.

Going forward the best advice and the best tool that we have are solutions. If you neglect to admit that the most crucial aspect of this ongoing and heartbreakingly repetitive situation is the issue of violence in America, then I’m not sure what to tell you. Violence is happening all over our world, of course, but this specific violence and attack on our innocent people is stemming from inequalities and all of the backlash surrounding them. If law enforcement agencies don’t stand up and say, “They were wrong. They were murderers. They do not represent what we believe a moral, honorable, committed member of this workforce should be, ” nothing is going to change. Why is every law enforcement institution attempting to cover up or defend these situations instead of addressing them head on? The immediate emergency relief system reaction should lie in a reform to the law enforcement system. As I wrote this, the attacks at the Black lives matter protest in Dallas happened and now 4 police officers have been killed and the situation is still unfolding. Violence breeds violence. Hate breeds hate. Unanswered outcrys for justice and continual repetitive injustice is infuriating to everyone involved. We can’t run away from this issue. The violence will perpetuate itself until we start coming up with solutions.

The overarching societal issue of racism and violence is one we will have to attack at all angles, as a united, level-headed, compassionate group of individuals. You can’t end racism by continuing to segregate communities and groups of people based on their race, for positive or negative reasons. That does not mean we can ignore the problem, in fact it means the opposite, we must face it head on, but together.

Most of all, this morning of reflection has lead me back to a place I am closely acquainted with. In light of all of the media outlets; tv channels, the internet, blogs, radio talk shows, etc. we must never underestimate the power of our voice against injustice.  I read many blogs today that affected my mindset and belief on the topic because I was able to entertain and absorb opinions without attacking them or completely disregarding my own. No, I will never know what it feels like to be you, just as you will never know what it feels like to be me. The only way to attempt to fix this is to talk about it and express ourselves, gently, civilly and openly.

I will not passively wait on the sidelines or blame other people. I will not throw my hands up in the air and surrender. I will start with myself, the only person I have complete control over. I will ask myself hard questions, I will promote equality for all people, I will reflect upon my own actions and reactions and ensure that I am living a life that is free of racism, ignorance, marginalization or fear. I will pass this on to those that know me, follow me or interact with me. I will spread positivity and stories of hope and compassion in light of the big, bad scary world out there. I will stand up for injustice everywhere, not just in one specific scenario.  I will not be afraid to have an opinion or to verbalize my opinion because the sad reality is- opinions have now been left to the idiots on the internet. It has become taboo for a thoughtful, educated, compassionate individual to share their warranted and impassioned words with the world…so instead, we choose silence. We choose passivity, which is just as much the enemy as downright hatred.

Stand up for what you believe in, empower yourself and empower those around you. Be solution minded. Be mindful and respectful that your opinion is just that, an opinion, but it is valid and it is necessary to find those solutions we desperately need. Yes, black lives matter and yes, all lives matter. We should never dispute the value of one life over another. The African American population needs our support and our solidarity. We need to acknowledge the facts and the current situations at hand. In turn, the black community needs to encourage solidarity and accept those who are championing for them, not chastise them saying that they wouldn’t understand.  Solidarity is essential for progress and solidarity can only happen when you erase the lines, the colors, the social classes and highlight the soul. Highlight the suffering but do not dwell on the suffering instead demand and create change. It is going to be a long road to reach a place of peace and equality in America, but we can not wait for someone else to be the voice or to make the change. Be brave, speak your mind, and stand up for these injustices. Life matters and so do you. Start acting like it.

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