Do Black Lives Really Matter?

I say they do, but the system keeps trying to prove me wrong.

Dear friends,

As I write this, there is no justice for Breonna Taylor. Just like there is no justice for so, so many dead Black people.

The list of Black people who need justice and fail to get it is long, and growing longer each decade, each year, each month, each week, and sometimes each day.

Since the death of Emmett Till in 1955, there have been thousands of Black people killed or maimed by the forces that are supposed to protect all of us.

But Black people don't usually get that protection, so we don't feel the same safety as white people do when they see the police.

It's hard.

Your Black friends and colleagues are hurting because no matter how often we Black people tell ourselves that Black Lives Matter, the system makes it crystal clear that our lives don't matter.

Every time an unarmed Black man or woman ends up dead, it tells us we don't matter.

Every time the fact of blackness or a Black person's history is used to justify that death, it tells us we don't matter.

Every time the system fails to indict killers for murdering Black people, it tells us we don't matter.

Every time video evidence of the killing of Black people isn't enough to secure justice, it tells us we don't matter.

Every time another Black teen gets stigmatized for being a kid, it tells us we don't matter.

Every time Black people are castigated for the same behavior white people get away with, it tells us we don't matter.

Every time Black people and white people with identical circumstances are treated differently by the media, by law enforcement, by the "justice" system, by the educational system, by the companies we work for, it tells us we don't matter.

Every time Black people can't walk, talk, jog, attend school, drive a nice car, go to work, or live ordinary daily life without being in danger, it tells us we don't matter.

Every time people see the destruction of property as more important than the destruction of Black lives, it tells us we don't matter.

Every time a white person targets us with microaggressions and outright racism, it tells us we don't matter.

Every time our white colleagues stand by while others discriminate it tells us we don't matter.

Every time our white friends, acquaintances and colleagues fail to call out obviously racist actions, it tells us we don't matter.

Every time someone gaslights our lived experience of racism, it tells us we don't matter.

Every time Black history is whitewashed, diminished, or denied it tells us we don't matter.

Every time diversity efforts are ignored or undermined it tells us we don't matter.

Every time the trolls and racists come for us it tells us we don't matter.

Every time our voices are suppressed on social media it tells us we don't matter.

Our Black lives don't matter to the system, and they don't matter to many individuals.

Yes, there are allies, advocates and supporters. Their voices are getting louder. Their actions are getting noticed.

But the system is bigger than all of us and it tells us Black lives don't matter.

I KNOW Black lives matter and sometimes I am still discouraged by the long, sticky tentacles of systemic racism.

But I don't let that stop me.

I may be despondent today, but tomorrow - and all the tomorrows - I will get up again and keep writing, talking, sharing, fighting because what matters is changing minds about the value of Black lives. What matters is ending racism.

I urge you to stand with me, and let all of us actively declare by our words and our actions:

Black lives do matter.

Black lives do matter.

Black lives do matter.

Maybe one day everyone will know it's true.

Thank you for reading,

Sharon Hurley Hall


© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2020. Cover photo courtesy of Canva

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