White Lies Matter

If someone says to me, “Black Lives Matter,” and I return with “All lives matter,” I have spoken what is accurate, but I have not considered the handicapping, through injustice, many blacks face in our society.

If someone says to me that they are bothered by a statue that glorifies a racist past, and I counter immediately with all my arguments validating the statue, it’s like saying, “My life experiences are the only ones that are valid, and all others are false or of no importance. Responding instead with, “Tell me more about what effect that statue has on you,” can reduce the likely argument and bring insight. I don’t have to understand completely that person’s perspective. But hearing other ideas and feelings may open me up to comprehend more deeply, expand my range of empathy, and appreciate that that person’s life story is as authentic as mine.

I am not always great at catching myself before I counter the statement with which I differ. But when I apply it, the result is better than an effort to show my tauted superior intelligence.

A book by Tim Wise, White Lies Matter may have spawned the sign that I have seen. “White lies” are those untruths that seem harmless. But often they are not. It also can be written, “White’s lies matter,”which puts the onus squarely on whites who tell lies about the imprint of racism on our psyches and nation, who opine that everyone in our country has an equal chance to thrive.

The playing field has been uphill since 1619 when twenty enslaved Africans were delivered to Jamestown, Virginia. The four hundred years since then is a long time for parents of children of color to keep repeating the same “talk” on how to get home safely.

We may say, “I didn’t own slaves.” Or maybe, “No one in my ancestors owned slaves.” That doesn’t change our corporate past that whites have benefited for generations from an economy and prosperity that was built on cheap, and for centuries, enslaved labor.

I want to be clear that I am not saying that we are to give up our moral compass, or we should be silent in the face of harmful discrimination. I am saying that the space we inhabit has its limits and by learning about the space another inhabits, insights can be revealed.

How have we been explicitly or implicitly purveyors of injustices?

When have we tried to foist our cultural norms on someone else?

If you want to expand your knowledge about the Black Lives Matter Foundation, please visit their website: https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/.

About Louise Stowe-Johns

I'm a writer,
a mediator,
a pastor,
an educator,
a lover of the arts,
a wife,
a mother,
and on occasion,
a pot stirrer.

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Gender Equity
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Restorative Justice
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