Over the past two years, my team and I have produced about 175 pieces that range in topics from the educational challenges in Kenya to poverty in Central Texas to human trafficking and children fleeing violence in Central America.
Of all those stories, it is our #BlackLivesMatter coverage that has raised the most criticism against my team members, this organization and myself. We have not been shy in our #BlackLivesMatter coverage from Baltimore. When appropriate, I have not withheld my personal opinion.
I want to tell you again what I mean when I say that black lives matter.
I’m saying that I’m aligning myself with people who are asking for simple things, really – equality; to be treated with dignity and respect by law enforcement officials; to not be brutalized for simple crimes; to not be targeted because of race; and to not die while in police custody. I want equality to be a systematic understanding of the value of every human being’s life and not because it’s protocol or policy or mandated. Maybe one day society won’t default to discrimination based on gender, skin color, sexual orientation or religion. Maybe one day it will be as simple as, “You’re a human. I respect you.”
This movement is one that concerns all of us. The question that could be asked is simply: do you believe that black lives matter?
Without the hashtag.
Without capitalizing the B, the L, or the M.
Simply: do you believe that black lives matter?
I think the answer to that is going to be, “Yes, of course.”
OK. Then let’s all do our part to solve the racial divide that exists around us.
You don’t have to tweet. You don’t have to protest. You don’t have to hold a sign.
Each person does and will have a different role. It could be you talking to your kids and exhibiting non-discriminatory behavior in the grocery store, in traffic.
It’s all of us embodying equality across every facet of our lives. For me, it is not a political statement. It is not an anti-police statement. It is not an exclusionary statement.
I’ve said it before, but I think it’s worth repeating. It is time for repression and suppression and oppression to end. It is time to be angry and frustrated and scared and sad. It is time for longstanding systems of abuse to end. It is time for reform. It is time for activism and change and it is time for voices to be heard. It is time for understanding and partnership and linking arms. It is time to stop turning a blind eye. It is time for the perpetrating of hate to end.
This is why I believe #BlackLivesMatter.
I encourage you to read the following material from reputable sources:
The “Black Lives Matter” movement focuses on the fact that black citizens have long been far more likely than whites to die at the hands of the police, and is of a piece with this history. Demonstrators who chant the phrase are making the same declaration that voting rights and civil rights activists made a half-century ago.
They are not asserting that black lives are more precious than white lives. They are underlining an indisputable fact — that the lives of black citizens in this country historically have not mattered, and have been discounted and devalued.
The hashtag leaped from social media to the streets, mobilizing a new wave of civil rights protests in the U.S. with the killings of Martin, Oscar Grant, Michael Brown andEric Garner.