An Open Letter To Those Who Still Don’t Get It: BLACK LIVES MATTER

Dear People (The ones who still don’t get it),


Black Lives Matter, all of them. For some reason, some people still do not understand what we mean when we say “Black Lives Matter” or why Black Lives Matter is an imperative movement for African Americans. Which is part of the problem. With clear and concrete evidence of racial profiling, police brutality, systematic racism and racial injustice, there are some people who are still trying to tell us that there is no real issue. Some even argue that we, African Americans are the problem, not the system or the police. And then we have that group of individuals who continue to try to take what belongs to us, and make it fit them so that they aren’t made to feel uncomfortable. Well guess what? If you feel uncomfortable when you hear or see “Black Lives Matter,” it’s probably because deep down, you know the reason we are saying this. Somewhere deep down, you know that in American, All Lives Don’t Matter, because if they did, we wouldn’t be in the middle of another civil rights movement. Yet, here we are.

Now, before I jump into the issues outside of the Black community, let me address what “Black Lives Matter” is for us, within the Black community. Black Lives Matter was created after Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted for his crime, and dead 17-year old Trayvon was posthumously placed on trial for his own murder. Since then, the movement has and does get most of its attention when we see or witness the murders of Black and Brown men & women at the hands of police. For some who truly don’t understand the purpose of Black Lives Matter, they would say that’s all this movement is about, addressing the murders of innocent men and women who are killed by those who are supposed to protect us. However, it’s so much more than that. Black Lives Matter is also about affirming those within our own community. It’s about affirming the lives of Black queer and trans person, those who have lost their way, those who are disabled, women, men and all Black lives regardless of their gender identities. Black Lives Matter is about supporting one another and shedding light and love on some of the worlds most marginalized people. It’s about affirming Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.

As of lately, we have seen more and more Black and Brown men & women murdered at the hands of police, some of which, were unarmed. We have seen a man (Alton Sterling), shot and killed by police, in front of a corner store for simply making a living for his family by selling CD’s. We’ve seen a Black man (Philando Castile), licensed to carry, get shot in front of his girlfriend and daughter, for doing exactly what an officer told him to do, which was to take out his identification and license to carry. We’ve seen a Black man (Eric Garner), choked to death by the police, for selling cigarettes, on a corner, which may have been his way of providing for his family. A Black woman (Korryn Gaines) was shot, while holding her baby, by the police, when they unlawfully kicked her door in. The list goes on and on and on, to the point of where it becomes traumatizing. It’s hard waking up and looking at the news, or on social media, and seeing another man or woman, who looks like you, murdered by those who are simply supposed to protect and serve us. What’s worse than that is seeing that justice is hardly ever served in these cases. It has become routine to see what is happening. Officer murders Black man or woman, they get paid leave during an investigation, the media tries to find all the negative stuff they can about the victim, if the officer gets charged with anything, they may go to trial, and most of the time, at most, lose their job. That’s not justice. That’s taking the life of someone, and getting away with it. That’s privilege.

It leaves many of us sad, angry, hurt, filled with rage, and some, even vengeful. There is only so much you can expect from people before they start to retaliate. What also makes us upset, is when people try to take a movement (Black Lives Matter) and try to change it (All Lives Matter/ #Blue Lives Matter) to make it fit them, even when it was never intended for them. First, there’s no such thing as a Blue life. That would mean that you are giving life to an occupation. It’s a choice to work as an officer, and it’s a choice to wear that badge and that blue uniform. For me, being Black isn’t an occupation or a choice. Being Black is not something I had control over. However, I’m unapologetically Black and walk in my body every single day. As far as that whole “All Lives Matter” thing is concerned, well, if you believe that, then you should understand why we are saying, “Black Lives Matter.” All lives have not been faced with oppression. All lives were not forced here on ships, dehumanized for centuries and made to be slaves. All lives were not told that they were three-fifths of a person. All lives didn’t have to march just to get the right to vote, and all lives don’t wake up and see people of the same race as them being killed at a disproportionate rate by police all over the country. Now, no one ever said, that other lives don’t matter, we know they do. But for centuries, we have been faced with oppression, poverty, a system that was never intended to work for us and inequality in this country. At this point, we are tired and will not tolerate it any more.

I’ve seen racism happen here on campus, in the Bearkat One Office, and watched as the university and our President, take it lightly, and place the situation “under investigation.” However, it hasn’t been something I have taken lightly. I have met with the Dean of Students on multiple occasions about the issues that have bothered a great number of Black student on this campus, and they could not even tell me what was being done to handle this employee of Sam Houston State University, who took to Twitter and lashed out at a student by using racial slurs and derogatory language toward her. I even requested a meeting with our President, Dana G. Hoyt, and was told that, “she’s too busy” for even an hour out of her week, to meet with the victim of this incident, our NAACP president, and myself. Yet, I see her on campus, handing out food on the yard, and finding time to participate in homecoming activities. It has been an issue that SHSU has tried to keep quiet and under the radar, but if we allow it to happen once and give that person a slap on the wrist, and then it happens again and again, then it becomes a trend, kind of like the killing of unarmed Black men & women.

This is just the beginning of a very long overdue conversation, and I am just getting started. Some will get it after this, and some still won’t, and some never will, because they don’t know what it’s like to be a Black man or woman in America, and that’s ok. Just make sure that if you don’t get it, you refrain from speaking on a subject as if you do. The Black students at this University won’t sit and allow racism to go on, especially when we pay, just like everyone else, to be here. We know that when we come together, things change. When we come together we see the strength in numbers. We know that even if our President, the staff, or administrators won’t stand for us, we have each other, and that we will stand together against any injustice, racism, or inequality. Not only at this campus but all over this country, because injustice anywhere, is a threat to us everywhere. We know our worth and we know that our lives matter. Here at Sam Houston State University, we know, that all, BLACK LIVES MATTER!


A Black ma…,

An Unapologetically Black Gay Man

There are 4 comments

  1. Ken W. Smith

    Yes. Excellent. Thanks! (I speak as a white man who "gets it" -- I got it first when I realized that my white sons could have worn their hoodies through that Florida community of Trayvon Martin and would not have been threatened by anyone; I have grieved since then for the families of Trayvon, for the families of Sandra Bland, and the many more families whose children have ended up dead but not carried in the media.)

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