Drawing a line: When liberal becomes lethal

Kai Roland – MC Intern Summer ’16

I consider myself a pretty liberal person especially for being only 15 years old; it gives me maturity points, which I don’t mind. I see people wearing their religious garments and I smile admiring their dedication of faith. Men and/or women wearing clothes society may deem too feminine or too masculine, I see it as an avenue of expression for them. My friends ask me to reference them with pronouns that may not “go with” how they appear and I respect that, calling them whatever is preferred.

Yet there is a time when a line must be drawn.

That line comes with the latest new movement of the nation; Black. Lives. Matter. I am a junior at a performing arts boarding school where there is a community of people just like me; those unopposed to vast individuality, a place where your art speaks for you. I’m now wondering if that was a blessing or a curse.

At times the art didn’t speak for the person it shouted over them. People used the very old excuse of “I don’t see color” or my personal favorite “I’m color-blind” to validate making pieces of art so one-sided or too optimistic to be believable. Though my classmates’ intentions may have been pure and while they may be indifferent to color, daily news reports show that is not the way of the world.

Time after time law enforcement officers have shown just how blinded they are by color/race. While I’ve never encountered a blatantly racist person I did encounter those who, by the sheer privilege of being born a non-minority, have never had to protect their very existence. These were the same people who very quickly (and very audaciously I might add) used the simple-minded rebuttal of “ALL LIVES MATTER” as an affront to the Black Lives Matter movement. When dealing with these individuals, I realized I had two roads to take; the high road where I walk away and charge their comments to their ignorance of the situation or the road of action where I sit them down and ask them to have a conversation in hopes that we can reach some level of mutual understating.

The argument is often the same where an opposing (non-minority) person says that any person unjustly killed deserves justice. My rebuttal? Show me instances where that didn’t happen, where a person is killed and no justice is served. Then tell me the race, then tell me the circumstance, the perpetrator, their excuse, etc. Every time they are left speechless … I never took their silence as a victory; I took it as a reminder of how the very people getting stepped on have to incessantly remind others that we in some shape or form are constantly being used as society’s doormat.

It hurts to know that me wearing a T-shirt or mourning the death of a black person who I didn’t have to know to know could make people uncomfortable. Its funny that I can support a foundation that gives to the arts or promotes music programs in schools and no one bats an eye because I am an artist and it is expected but if I like or share a sympathetic #icantbreathe or #blacklivesmatter post all heck breaks loose. So here’s the thing I am an artist but before that, I am black.

I choose to be an artist; I fell in love with it. I didn’t have the option of loving my race, it came automatically. There are already many people who have enough hate in their hearts to last me several lifetimes why should I join in on the “fun” with any self-hate? If a Muslim man was shot in cold blood by someone who associated every person wearing a turban with Isis, I would rally. If a transgender person were murdered for simply being him or herself, I would rally. If a lesbian were attacked for her personal preferences or orientation, I would rally. Why is the protesting of murdered black men, women and evenchildren at the hands of a law officer the thing that causes objections? If the protesting isn’t the problem then why is the name of the movement?

My generation is “experts” at preaching self-love and overthrowing the patriarchy but I guess we are opposed to it when they become a part of it (yes this includes females). If all lives matter then prove it, lets stand for Trayvon, Reykia, Sandra, Alton, India, Philando, Tamir, Freddie, and the 136 black people killed this year alone.

People are too busy fighting the hashtag and not the reason behind it. There is blood on the streets, innocent black blood from men and women who were exercising their right to live in a country that claims to be getting “more liberal each day”. If that is true then where is the liberty to/of life and whom does it belong to and who is going to enforce that liberty if we have to rally against those who are currently responsible for enforcing it?

Yes all life is valid and matters but if you can sit anywhere and say to any black person that their pain and plea for respect does not deserve a hashtag, then how much do all lives matter to you?

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