Black Lives Matter.

Thursday, June 18, 2020
In 2014 my entire family and a friend from college drove packed together in a car from Lincoln to Chicago. The Ferguson protests were happening at the time. For the entirety of the 8 hour drive we talked about race.

Our group, comprised of six college-educated, liberal, well-off people, still managed to all have very different perspectives and experiences. Some of us were extremely outspoken and outraged despite having never been directly affected by racism, some were a little more quiet and apolitical but open. Some empathized with both the Black Lives Matter movement and the legal/government workers, excluding the officer that murdered Michael Brown, having had good relationships with the legal system themselves, while others listed off the rules their mothers had for them when they went out in public to avoid being unjustly targeted.

That was six years ago.

Over the last few weeks, we've been having the same conversations again. Our perspectives have all evolved. Everyone is louder now. The emotions more adamant, the ideas more radical. Even those that had previously been hesitant to make blanket statements about the police are starting to see that perhaps the political correctness of a more moderate reprimand directed only the officers and the jurisdictions in question is not enough.

While it's extraordinary frustrating that the same conversations we had years ago are still being held today and little having changed, I am reminded of how important it is to have these conversations frequently, and over time. With people you disagree with. With people that don't necessarily interact with people with different perspectives all that often. With people that live in heavily white, suburban, middle class areas. 

The system will not be fixed as it is today. The system must be overturned, thrown out, remade. 

People, however, aren't like that. They have to be challenged, made to see different perspectives, and made to feel and know the effects of systematic, institutionalized racism that they themselves don't experience. They need to finally see that the system of oppression does in fact exist. They need to develop empathy. Doing so happens over time and with great, persistent effort.

We all have internalized racism, no matter our backgrounds. Let's all begin and continue to do the work to unlearn and become true anti-racists. We have such a very long way to go together.

Don't forget to check out the Libby, Overdrive and Hoopla apps through your local library to see if you can checkout a copy of the many great books about race that all seem to be sold out right now!
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