Just to clear things out, stating that black lives matter does not insinuate that others do not. #BlackLivesMatter is not a term for confrontation or a demand that excludes any other. It is just aspirational; it’s a cry that aims at rallying all humans around one fact : statistics show that colored people are twice as likely to be killed by a police officer while unarmed, compared to a white individual. So, today, it is about black lives, and the brutality colored people are subject to.
WHY IT IS ABOUT BLACK LIVES NOW
Did black lives matter when they were transported like livestock from Africa, for slavery ? Did black lives matter when they were murdered by the hundreds by the KKK? Did black lives matter when they were attacked by dogs while protesting for equal rights ? Did black lives matter during the Apartheid in South Africa ? Do black lives matter today, in our country, as domestic workers are treated like animals when they reach Beirut airport ?
Today, the only people who have the luxury of ignoring race issues are the white community. They have had the privilege of not questioning whether this system we live in is detrimental to their life, based on their skin color. Yes, all lives matter, but today, it is all about black lives, and we need to let it be.
What is racism, really? Officially, it is the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioral traits corresponding to physical appearance, and that they can be divided based on the superiority of one race over another. But really, racism is a tough little word that has evolved over time.
Most of us think its meaning is obvious, specifically since the 70s, when the word racist replaced prejudiced. What seats in our subconscious is that “it is wrong to think people are inferior because of the color of their skin, or to be mean or unfair to them because of that. But “racist” carries baggage beyond its dictionary meaning. The fact is that most of us get more offended at being called “racist” than at actually “being racist”! And most of us genuinely believe that we are not racist.
WE ARE ALL A LITTLE BIT RACIST
It may be unintentional, but we all are, according to extensive studies, regardless of age, gender, educational background, economic level or religion. Why? Simply because we are biased in how we interpret information. Yes, our physiological abilities vary, but it is our cognitive interpretations of these senses that act as the biasing filter. And it affects all of us, all our lives, without us being really aware of it. What we think of as “normal” or what we consider “common sense” rarely emerges from some inner true core. It comes from enculturation and development within a certain society. And this is what shapes our perceptions of everything.
BE CONSCIOUS OF YOUR PERCEPTIONS
Racism matters, and small biases, when combined with fear and ignorance, can be lethal. The latest horrific events in the US alone make that abundantly clear. But biases and our current state of fear, ignorance or anger do not have to be set in stone. Societies, people and attitude can change ! If we start recognizing our biases and the unequal experiences that cause theses biases, we will be able to start looking at things with new eyes, in our daily lives, and maybe will we start acting differently. We might end up getting better at getting along…