Now before you get all hot and bothered, I need you to do something for me first. Take a breath and absorb what I'm trying to convey. This is not about political correctness or divisive rhetoric. This is a chance to get a glimpse into the black experience. A chance to understand why we feel the way we feel. Why it's so hard to trust what has been metered out to us as justice in the past through today. A chance for you -- if you're open to it -- to really understand.
I have a friend who has told me many times that he had no idea -- no clue of the things black people go through. He's said that I've been able to make things more clearly for him because of our very frank and honest racial discussions. My friend urged me to take the step I'm taking today to share some of that with you.
As a country, many of us believe that black people have come a long way. We have. Many are also under the mistaken belief that things aren't that bad. It's bad when I had to have a talk with my teenage son that there are certain things he can't do.
I explained to him that "driving while black" isn't just a made up expression. I told him that if he's stopped by a cop that he has to remain calm and cooperate with the officer even if he hasn't done anything wrong.
Like most parents in the Middle Georgia area, I was unaware there was a midnight curfew for teenagers. Because he played sports, my son would normally drive home after the midnight curfew with no problem. However, a couple of times when he would ride home with another friend who drove a "hoopty," they were stopped. My son and his friend explained they were on their way home from a game after stopping at the Sonic. But there where other white teenagers who weren't stopped that night. Doesn't sound that bad on the surface, right? My son and his friend did what most teenagers should do and be respectable, right?
The real problem is that I had to have that talk with my son in the first place. Or look at the black tennis player, James Blake, who was slammed to the ground and handcuffed by a New York City cop in a case of mistaken identity. Because of Blake's status, the New York mayor and the police commissioner both apologized. Other black people aren't that lucky.
So, when you look at these three words -- Black Lives Matter -- it's not saying that other lives don't matter. It's about a movement -- a movement to make our country realize the struggle and the brutality blacks go through all too often. It's about remembering the senseless deaths of: Freddie Gray who fell into a coma while being transported by police after they arrested him. He died a week later because they crushed his spinal cord. Eric Garner who died from a choke hold by a police officer. Walter Scott who was shot multiple times in the back while fleeing. Had it not been for a video that surfaced showing the shooting, we would have never known the truth.
I could go on and on, but isn't that enough? Shouldn't we be allowed our movement? But when we constantly read about police brutality, people need to understand and not make it about semantics -- not diluting our message or substituting it with a fill-in-the "blank lives matter."
Through years of slavery, the turbulent '60s and even today, these senseless tragedies continue to hurt us to our core. It's very sad that the depths of our pain isn't even comprehended until something just as horrific happens to the police.
I watched the depths of despair shown by a police chief who lost one of his own officers to a senseless and cowardly act of being shot in the back by a black man. As the chief spoke, it was like looking in a mirror.
But what happened next was not. Because of the extensive coverage and manhunt that followed, I began to see something else. People were quick to call what we were doing "rhetoric." People began to dismantle and belittle our movement because they say it should be that all lives matter.
In their grief and pain, they missed the point.
When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. went to Memphis to support the garbage strike movement, "I Am A Man," it wasn't about other races not being men. It was about the equal treatment for black garbage men. Today, just like back then, it's about changing a mindset.
Our country has become too divisive. Too often it's about black and white, us against them. It shouldn't be that way. Let's make "Black Lives Matter" a battle cry to get better -- to help others with the true meaning of those three words, our movement.
Faye Banks-Anderson is a resident of Perry.