Black Lives Matter
Life

All lives matter? Wake up!

Black Lives Matter
NBC News

I started to watch the footage and when I saw his hands shaking I stopped. I couldn’t finish watching. I already knew the outcome. Alton Sterling is dead. Another black man has been murdered at the hands of white cops. Before you tell me how hard cops have it, I’m married to someone who was a police officer for thirteen years. I get it. I don’t care that Sterling may or may not have a criminal past that involved impregnating a fourteen year old, sixteen years ago when he was twenty (in this context). I’m a rape survivor. Please don’t pull the statutory rape card with me. I don’t really care that he was selling CD’s or what the homeless man said on the phone when he dialed 911. He’s dead. A wife lost her husband. Children lost a father, and still there are people making excuses. THIS is why Black Lives Matter.

Have you ever watched a montage of flashbacks in a soap opera? After I closed the video, flashes of conversations came flooding to me. Two of the kindest most intelligent people with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working are black. We once had a conversation about how they had been taught to speak to police officers: “Keep your head down and just keep saying yes, Sir.” It didn’t matter the circumstances. I told them I’ve asked for a badge number and they both laughed, animatedly shaking their heads ‘no’ while telling me that would never happen in their world. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. How could such good people be potentially robbed of justice because of the color of their skin? THIS is why Black Lives Matter.

I was getting my nails done in Atlanta. The aesthetician told me about her childhood. She didn’t realize she was black until she was a child and moved to Georgia. A boy affixed a hanging toy monkey from her desk and implied that’s what should be done to people like her. The teacher didn’t bat an eye. She asked me, as a white skinned woman to speak out. I don’t know if my speech is loud enough or even if the words I type and speak are the right ones, but I know THIS is why Black Lives Matter.

In case you all haven’t noticed, I’m just about the whitest Hispanic you’ve ever seen. The nickname leche didn’t come from nowhere. This alabaster skin gets me a lot of privilege. People talk to me about the craziest shit because they don’t realize I’m not “white white”. I walk into high-end stores, fine dining establishments or just about anywhere and I’m greeted with smiles and welcomes. I don’t get the side eye. No one follows me around. White privilege at its finest. It’s with me all of the time. THIS is why Black Lives Matter.

I hear some of you shouting, “ALL LIVES MATTER.” To you I say, no I SHOUT back: WAKE UP! Seriously. Just stop. Look. I’m a three-time cancer survivor. I attend cancer awareness events. I speak on the topic. On those days the focus is on cancer. I’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for research and other important programs to improve the lives of cancer patients. Cancer, cancer, cancer. Does that mean AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes and Alzheimer’s don’t matter? No. It just means in those moments we focus on cancer because it has directly affected our lives. It has robbed us of people we love. It has disfigured some of us. It has scarred some of us. It has threatened our well-being and livelihood. And it has changed us forever. Does that mean because you’ve never had cancer you can’t support the cause? Sure doesn’t. THIS is why Black Lives Matter.

We live in a nation still so segregated that while visiting another area of the country a child recently asked me, “Why are there so many black people here?” I was at a loss and it took me a few days to revisit the question. When I finally offered a butchered, ineloquent reply I explained, “There are certain areas of the country where black people are not widely accepted. I cannot speak for them, but perhaps they feel more accepted there. Do you understand?” I received a confused look and a head tilt. A child should not be so alarmed by the number of black people doing nothing more than walking on a public sidewalk it raises such a question. THIS is why Black Lives Matter.

We are regressing and so many-too many- of us don’t even see it. Or perhaps we won’t admit it. And until we do, men and women will continue to be profiled, continue to be discriminated against; continue to die. For.the.color.of.their.skin. And if you refuse to see it, because I know you can see it, let me be clear: THIS is why Black Lives Matter. You don’t have to be color blind. Just don’t be blind.

22 Comments

  • Debbie

    I got into a Facebook “conversation” with someone who had written that all lives matter, questioned white privilege and basically spouted racist bs. I finally withdrew because, really what is the point with some people. However, I wish I could have left a link to this post because you said it all much more eloquently than I.

  • Shauna

    Such a beautiful read! Thank you so much for this. Know that you are doing what you can by speaking out and sharing your thoughts with others.

  • Simone

    Disappointing, but not surprising, that you wouldn’t post my comments. [edited by site owner]

    • Heather

      Simone, you have crossed a line and I would encourage you to read the direct emails I have sent you. I would also encourage you to actually know your facts before you spew forth misinformation. I will not post comments in reference to anyone outside of myself on this blog. Please comply with this request.

  • Maya

    This was such a great read, Heather. Thank you for your voice. I loved the example being a cancer survivor advocate. I also love how you mention that white privileges ties to what your skin color reflects, not necessarily your actual heritage. Thank you. ❤️

    • Heather

      Thank you for your kind words, Maya. I so appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to read and comment. I am humbled to write this and humbled by your words.

  • Nathena

    Thank you for writing this. In a time when I’m so close to feeling hopeless about the current climate, my heart warms to know that there are people who understand. You’ve explained things in a way that will help people to finally “get it.” Your voice as an ally is important & it is greatly appreciated 💜

    • Heather

      The positive comments I have gotten have truly meant so much to me I wish I could articulate my thoughts and feelings better. It was a humble attempt to try to explain although I cannot truly understand, I will try to raise my voice as much as I can because I care. Thank you so much for your kind thoughts.

  • Aixa

    I have never been prouder of you my dear beautiful and sweet child of mine. This has touched my heart and soul. As your Colombian mother who became a U.S. citizen 2 years ago I thank you for expressing this topic with facts and also love for your brothers & sisters in this journey we call life. We are all in this together. It’s one world for all.

  • Michael

    I’m a 61 yo white male who grew up in a segregated Northern Indiana town. If you were black, you knew where you were required to live and God help you if you tried to live outside that area. My mother a divorced woman with three children lived inside that area, poor white lived inside the black community. She taught me by example by dating black men. I married a black women. Here is something which I posted on my fb page after the Dallas officers were murdered. I see most white folks as completely unaware of the facts regarding how America’s black community have been treated, then they want to argue. Here is what I wrote::All lives matter, all lives matter, but this is ignoring that there is a proven history of police abuse against black men especially, and going back to 1890 when Jim Crow became the norm, after 400 years of slavery. What is frustrating for many is that when there is an obvious bad police officer that crossed the line of decency, they are never, ever punished. This is akin to the mentality of Priest sexually abusing boys in the Church, and every one including the victims turn a blind eye, even to the point of staying in their church and putting their own children in the same risk. There is too much of, it’s either Black or White mentality, not the skin color but judgement B or W. Your either for or against regardless of what is right or wrong mentality is wrong. I’m not going to defend criminals, in life, you can put yourself into a situation and can blame nobody but yourself, and sadly that can mean death. But it is callous to not examine in depth the damage that has been done by our society/American culture to black men in America by the police, by business owners and judicial system historically. There is so much wrong on all sides , but a situation was created by white Americans and until we as a nation closely examine the history and actual real situations of today, all we end of doing is choosing a side regardless of the sides faults and we get no where. The reality is that white people started this fight with 400 years of slavery and Jim Crow started in 1890 and continuing through to today and don’t forget the COINTELPRO government program. The war against and the hatred of black American’s was started by white America. Now the chicken’s have come home to roost and you white America still don’t want to accept any fault nor responsibility to the repercussions of assaulting a group. Bottom line, to prove change, reward good police and punish bad police would be an enormous start to helping black America’s feel a real change has occurred in the hearts of white Americans.:

    • Heather

      I read your comment and I am sorry I have not replied yet. You have seen so much and I thank you for such a thoughtful reply as well as your sharing of insight and experience. I couldn’t agree with you more.

  • Sonya

    I love your post. A lot of people just don’t understand what it’s like to be a black man. Therefore, they can’t identify with the Black Lives Matter movement and why it’s even necessary. Thanks for helping to show people why it’s needed.

    • Heather

      Thank you, Sonya. Your words really humble me. I know I cannot understand fully, but I know enough to know there is inequality and if we don’t address and make change, we are in more trouble than we’re already in.