Say Something: Thoughts on the Black Lives Matter Movement

Thoughts on the Black Lives Matter Movement featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

Nina_Simone_Quote - Thoughts on the Black Lives Matter Movement featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

By Gabrielle. 

Late last night, I logged onto Facebook and my feed was filled — completely overflowing — with posts about Alton Sterling. I hadn’t heard the news and sat in shock as I read post after post after post. And then, I woke up this morning to gut-wrenching news about Philando Castile. It’s all I can think about. I can’t stay silent. So I’m writing.

The first part of this post is for any white readers who might think the Black Lives Matter movement is unnecessary at best and harmful at worst. It’s for white readers whose first instinct is to defend the police officers. It’s for white readers who can list all the reasons why Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were in the wrong, and what they should have done differently to prevent being killed.

First, understand that your thinking is wrong.

Your list about how they could have prevented their own murders? Lose it. It’s a racist, dishonest list. There is nothing they could have done. They were killed because they were living life with black skin. They were killed because they were born black. Under the exact same circumstances as Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, white men would still be alive. It’s that simple. Both of these men are dead because of the color of their skin. Period.

As far as defending the police officers in these instances, don’t. There are wonderful police officers who do a great job in a hard line of work every single day. I know this. You know this. Everybody knows this. And there are corrupt and racist and cruel police officers too. The corrupt ones need to be called out and held accountable. If you are a fan of police officers, you are not doing them any favors if you accept corruption among them. Call it out and encourage them to call it out too. It’s better for them, it’s better for all of us. (For a passionate argument along these lines, see this video of a DJ calling out a police officer to speak up.)

Remember, police officers are not supposed to be the judge and jury and executioner. That is not their job. And yet, here are the stats on people killed by police in 2016.

neutral_supports_oppressors - Thoughts on the Black Lives Matter Movement featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

The second part of this post is for white readers who feel compelled to do or say something about this unnecessary and systematic violence.

What should you do? I confess, I’m not sure. I don’t know what’s effective and what’s a waste of time. I haven’t found anything that tells me how to make real change. So perhaps we can start by listening. Black women everywhere made videos yesterday sharing their thoughts — I think I had at least 15 in my Facebook feed. Here are three that happen to be mothers (and women I know personally and care deeply about): Amber Dorsey, Brandi RileyA’Driane Nieves. Watch them. Listen. Try to imagine the terror of being pulled over for a routine traffic violation when you are black. Try to imagine the terror of knowing your children could be killed for going about their daily lives, just because they dare to have black skin.

After you listen, take a minute to realize that if it hasn’t hit home for you already, that it will at some point. Think of the black kids at your school. Think of your black neighbors. Think of your cousin who just adopted two black boys from Haiti. I know it’s tempting to believe nothing will happen to them. Your neighborhood is safe. You’re pretty sure your community isn’t racist. Your kids don’t even seem to notice race.

But that’s not how this works. Having black skin and living in a safe neighborhood won’t prevent this. Having black skin and white friends won’t prevent this. Having black skin and white parents won’t prevent this. Having black skin and respect for authority won’t prevent this. Having black skin and wearing certain clothes won’t prevent this. Since white people are the oppressors here, only white people can prevent this.

Which brings us to this: The senseless killing needs to end. It’s time to say something. If you use social media, I encourage (ask, beg, implore) you to share a tweet or a Facebook post, or share a quote and a hashtag on Instagram. Put a Black Lives Matter movement poster in your yard or your window. Take the time to help your kids understand that life is different for black kids and that not having to think or talk about race is a privilege, and only something white people get to do. Call out the injustice and racism when you see it — even when it’s your uncle or friend from church. And check out the Black Lives Matter movement Get Involved page to find more ideas. Join me as I continue to learn how to be an ally.

Have other ideas on what you can say or do? Or thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement? I hope you’ll share them in the comments. Feeling heartbroken and helpless? Oh man. I hear you. You can share that too.

P.S. — Kelly Wickham Hurst taught me that every time I write something about race I will likely get called out as a racist and told I’m doing it wrong, and that’s okay, it’s worth saying something anyway. You may experience the same thing, but you will survive.

122 thoughts on “Say Something: Thoughts on the Black Lives Matter Movement”

  1. Thank you for your thoughtful and honest words. Each case of brutality has been horrific, but this one has been especially brutal. As someone else has probably already pointed out, the officer fired four shots into a car in which a child was in the back seat. Four bullets in the vicinity of a child. Incredible and so, so sobering. What’s to be done about the state of race relations in this country?

  2. Thanks for your thoughts on this one. I’m heartbroken each time a new incident occurs. I feel helpless to change things and would love to hear about more ways to get involved.

  3. Amen. Thank you for using your platform for good. I know women of all races , religions, and political leanings read your words, and that gives me hope.

  4. Thank you, Gabby. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt, honest thoughts. Your voice of reason and compassion are desperately needed.

  5. We need to hold judgement here everyone. Police put their lives on the line daily to protect and serve our nation. No one knows what happened in either of these two very unfortunate situations. What appears on those videos is not the full story and we need to let the justice department do their job and investigate each case. If those policemen are found guilty then they will be punished, but it’s too early to start pointing fingers….. Not until we know all the facts!

    1. But Geri, you are wrong to assume that the police will be held accountable. The acquittals of multiple police officers in cases just like these over the last year demonstrates that justice has not been served. Black lives should matter. Unfortunately when it comes to police brutality, they don’t.

      1. I agree with Geri…I don’t think any of us know the whole story. You offend me tremendously, Gabby, with your repeated “you are wrong” statements. You don’t know any more than the rest of us do…think about the info that came out later in Ferguson when BLACK witnesses stepped up and told the truth, that Michael Brown DID NOT have his hands up, etc.

        I don’t condone police violence or ANY kind of violence, but I also don’t condone such self-righteous statements as you are making.

        (And while I normally try to stay away from online political discussions, I can’t possibly help but laugh at your statement “If you are a fan of police officers, you are not doing them any favors if you accept corruption among them.” and think about how you don’t seem to mind rampant corruption when it comes to your presidential candidate of choice.)

  6. I love your blog most when you post about design, motherhood, and travel. I check your blog daily. It is by far one of my favorites. I applaud you for doing what you love. I hope to see less political posts. I am disheartened by the news and my prayers go out to the victims and their families including the police officers in Dallas. You inspire me with your talents as a working mother.

  7. Hi Gabrielle, thank you for speaking out! I so appreciate when writers mainly focused on the domestic — which is, of course, interesting and vital — intentionally discuss the wider world around us. You are in a unique position to introduce new ideas and begin conversations with your diverse readership, and I am grateful for your willingness to do so.

    Here are two links on the intersection of parenthood and anti-racism that may be of interest:

    On Mothering White Sons To Know #Blacklivesmatter:

    It’s My Job To Raise Children Who Are Not Only Not Racist But Anti-Racist:

  8. This is so needed and so helpful to read; the comments and the links have also been tremendously helpful. Thank you.

  9. Gabby,
    I agree with most of what you are saying here, and I think your heart is in the right place, but take some pause with your statement.. “Since white people are the oppressors here, only white people can prevent this.”

    How about “Since POLICE OFFICERS are the oppressors here, only POLICE OFFICERS can prevent this.”

    1. Brooke,
      The basic tenet of your idea really resonates with me today — thank you for sharing your thoughts. I love the idea that whoever is the oppressor in any situation should examine their bias and change. But, I’m super concerned about ever using the word ONLY, because I disagree with that idea too. I think EVERYONE in our society needs to be kinder to each other, regardless of race, belief, or whatever separates us.

      Gabby, while I love the idea of becoming educated about these kinds of issues, and working on discovering our biases, and working to get rid of them, I think we have to be stronger advocates that we do this for ALL of our biases. Sadly, if we hyper-focus ONLY on the black lives matter revolution, we have the potential to miss the bigger picture — that all life is precious and worth every bit of energy we can devote to learning to love and embrace all our fellow travelers on this earth.

      What I’m essentially saying is this: While the idea behind this movement is wonderful and worth pursuing, I struggle with the selectiveness of it all. Does everyone who believes that black lives matter also feel that refugee lives matter? Hispanic lives? Muslim lives? Jewish lives? LGBT lives? White lives? Police lives? If the answer to any of those questions (or the numerous other questions that are possible) is no, then the problem will never be solved simply by educating ourselves on the struggles for black people. It’s definitely a place to start, but I pray that we don’t focus so much on this particular issue that we fail to truly recognize that all lives really do matter. These devastating shootings will only end when each of us is free from all bias….

      1. Val, I think we should all feel free to focus on injustice whenever we see it. In today’s Friday link list, there were links about anti-semitism, Muslims, homeless shelters, slave-revolts, the Dallas killings, and anxiety (among many other links). We can learn about all of these things at the same time, as we work toward a better world.

      2. I think this is a valid analogy: I wear a pink ribbon for breast cancer. I am trying to bring awareness and resources to the cure for breast cancer. By me saying “lets cure breast cancer!” I am not saying other cancers are not as important, I am saying breast cancer is important to me and if you want to take the analogy another step, breast cancer was a under researched or understood disease and needed to have people advocate for it…but not at the expense of other diseases.

    2. Brooke, no doubt my post wasn’t clear, but when I said, “Since white people are the oppressors here, only white people can prevent this,” I was thinking of not just police brutality, but of the deeply held racist beliefs in our country.

      1. Thanks for your thoughtful replies. I’ve been thinking about this all day… What can we do? Be kind. Play fair. Raise good children. Serve others. Speak up when things aren’t right. Look carefully at our own prejudices, because we all have some. And through it all, still have HOPE in the future.

  10. Here’s what we need to do, immediately. Learn about the local prosecutor. They play a critical role with police departments. Then, get involved with the hiring and oversight of your local police department so that NO bad people become police officers and any who are already are held accountable and removed from that post. Finally, cut out the role of police officers with issuing traffic tickets. Here’s the article about that. This will reduce the chances that brutality can be the outcome of minor infractions.

  11. Great post. Black lives absolutely matter. However the issue of racism is not unique to the US. But the lack of gun control is. And the combination is what leads to these tragedies time and time again.

    1. Um…saying “cops” kill nearly twice as many white as blacks – 50% vs 26% – isn’t a great statistic when blacks are 13% of the population.
      That still ends up being a disproportionately larger number of blacks killed by police than whites.

      PS And I disagree with much of the perspective of this blog article.

  12. It is sad that two more people were killed during encounters with police this week; however, since the facts have not come to light in either of these situations, it’s a little too soon to judge who was wrong. However, I will tell you this – these men where NOT killed because they were black. They were either killed because of their actions, or because the police officer had to make a split second decision and either made the correct one for the situation, or made an incorrect decision. Either way, two men are dead, and three police officers have to live with that burden the rest of their lives. And now, five totally innocent police officers are dead. Were are too focused on race instead of personal responsibility. Not every police shooting is justified; however, they would be greatly reduced if the person interacting with the police would cooperate. We are allowing the media to write the narrative; along with groups who want to divide us. It should not matter the race of the officer and the race of the person shot – we are all people. The encounter was not about race. Officers do not decide to kill people based on their race – they make that decision based on the person’s actions. That is a FACT. We have made police officers racist, hunting down black people. That is not the case. Please read this book for some correct statistics – “The War On Cops” by Heather MacDonald. Not all cops are good. There are bad apples in every occupation; however, the vast majority of them are good – or they wouldn’t be cops. It is a thankless, underpaid job. They have to make life and death, split second decisions. Before you paint them as killers, you need to do a ride-along with them. Walk in their shoes. See what they have to deal with. The real problem in America is the lack of respect we have for authority. And for people who want to turn events to push forward an agenda of hate. The Black Lives Matter movement was started on a false premise, a made-up narrative of police brutality in the Michael Brown case. Please read facts, not lies.

    1. And, yes, by the way, my husband is a police officer. And he is out on the streets right now, working a long shift during a Black Lives Matter rally in our city. He is standing there, keeping the people safe that hate him, and that chant that he should be killed “Pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon.” He does this because it is his job. He does this because it is their Constitutional right to peacefully protest. So, yes, I sit at home, praying that my husband comes home safely. We have four young children. I am proud of my husband and other police officers. They are our country’s immune system. Please don’t paint them as killers.

      1. Abby, I can’t imagine how awful it must feel as you wait for your husband to come home. I’m so grateful that he is willing to keep people safe while they exercise their right to peacefully protest.

        Just as most police officers are good people, so are most supporters of the #blacklivesmatter movement. They do not hate your husband or police officers in general. I like what the Austin Police chief said about not painting either group with broad brushes.

        And I imagine you know this already, but not every wife of a police officer agrees with your assessment that race doesn’t play a part in police actions. Some think it plays a huge part. Joan Haskins is a white woman married to a black police officer. She writes that though she’s scared when he’s acting as a police officer, she’s more scared when he’s simply driving as a black man — you can read her post here, it’s not long. Jennifer is a black woman married to a white police officer (she’s also a Mormon — I only mention that in case any Mormon readers want to feel an additional connection), she’s also a #blacklivesmatter supporter, and she explains in her post why saying All Lives Matter is not okay.

        Please don’t invalidate their experiences. You may not have seen or experienced racist policing, but millions of other people have. Here is the story of just one person as an example. I myself have never had a single negative encounter with a police officer, but that doesn’t mean his experiences aren’t real.

        I wish you and your husband the best, and I am sincerely grateful for his service as he works to keep his community safe.

        P.S. — I’ve made a note of the book you mention and I will look into it further, but based on my initial search, one of the first links that came up was a positive book review by Rush Limbaugh — which sadly leads me to assume I shouldn’t trust it, and that it was written with a specific political agenda.

        1. Clearly we have a polar-opposite worldview, and neither of us are going to change our opinions; however, I wanted to sincerely thank you for your gracious reply and for your kind words for my husband. Please know that my heart is not filled with hate, just that I see the world very differently. I wish only the best for you and your family. :) Thank you.

  13. Gabby, I love that you tackled this issue and I wholeheartedly agree with most of your points. However, I cannot NOT speak to your comment, “As far as defending the police officers in these instances, don’t.” Once we have the facts, there are many instances where the police offices don’t deserve our defense, however we have also seen some instances where police officers lives are ruined because of a false narrative. There are times defending the police is absolutely the right thing, and times it is not.

    My son’s black friend was over the other night in our very safe suburban neighborhood. His mom called and asked me to make sure he was inside. There was a manhunt for some black suspects in robbery in a town several miles from ours. She did not want him to ride his bike home, she feared he may be caught up in the search. He is 13. I couldn’t get him inside fast enough because I knew she was right. I was certainly not worried about my sons that night, and if the manhunt had been for tall white boys, I still would not have been worried. I have never been worried about my sons getting hurt when getting pulled over by the police, I can absolutely acknowledge I would feel differently if my sons were black. I will never know what that fear is like.

    I do, however, know what it is like to watch your dad strap on a gun and a badge and go out at night to defend us all. I know what it is like to hear that your uncle was shot in the face while making a routine traffic stop. I know what it is like to be the mother of an American soldier. These defenders of our freedoms may not deserve our defense every time, but they certainly deserve it some of the time. Blanket statements hurt the conversation.

  14. Gloria Hopkins

    Thank you for your courage and honesty. I mourn for this world but pray in faith that good will prevail. Even if its in small doses.

  15. Thank you for this post, which got through to me in a way no other words on race ever have. I never understood the words “white privilege”. If you are from a low income family, and a female, and white….you experience more than your share of discrimination simply because of your sex, and your poverty. Working your tail off just to put food on the table and second hand clothes on your kids doesn’t feel like a privilege. I do NOT, however, have to worry about my race.
    Thank you for opening my eyes.

  16. I’m so far behind in reading your posts, but I wanted to take a moment and add another “thank you” to the pile for writing this. It’s both courageous and right that you use the platform you have to move this conversation forward. And I appreciate the thoughtful comments here, even from those who have a different opinion.

  17. #blacklivesmatter

    The women in the photo you posted are Cipriana and TK Quann (I follow on instagram) – unsure who the third woman is.

  18. Pingback: Important links on a somber week, because #blacklivesmatter

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