I have been up too much overnight watching too much news and reading too much Twitter. The pandemic of the last 10 weeks has now taken a back seat to the protests and subsequent rioting in many cities throughout the United States over the murder of George Floyd by police officers. I’ve been silently processing the ensuing events and watching things deteriorate, meanwhile fantasizing Queen Latifah and Tracy Turnblad effectively showing up right behind Ben Wyatt in the Batman suit and them taking over the peaceful protests preventing more physical mayhem and damage. I have also wanted to shout BLACK LIVES MATTER a la Michael Scott declaring bankruptcy knowing it would be exactly that effective.
This morning I watched a clip of three black men having a heated but productive conversation about figuring out a new plan — one 46, one 31 and one 16. “I understand. I understand,” 31 replies to 46 “But we need a new plan, or you will be back here in another 10 years” to the 16 year old. ” THIS AIN’T WORKING.” As I continued to scroll past images and updates and destruction hatred and anger, I had my first white privilege revelation. “How can things get any worse?”
A movie clip surfaced in my brain from one of my favorite flicks — Christmas Vacation. Ellen Griswold is sending the parents home after a rough night of ruined dinner, a burnt Christmas tree, and a dead cat in the living room. Ellen says “I think its best if everyone just goes home. Before things get worse.” Clark replies, “Worse? How can they get any worse? Take a look around you Ellen! We are at the threshold of hell!” In a flash of insight, I realized this movie has always been humorous to me because that type of scene is about the worst thing I have ever experienced in my life. A ruined dinner, damaged decorations, family members yelling at each other and leaving a holiday party early. And a dead pet.
And I sobbed.
I want to share what I learned about #blacklivesmatter from pop star Billie Eilish but without all the F bombs:
If your friend had a cut on their finger and asked for a band-aid, would you make sure everyone you knew had a band-aid for their finger because all fingers matter? NO. You would give the band-aid to the one with the cut. Would you expect the fire department to visit every house in the neighborhood because one house is burning down since all houses matter? NO. The fire department is needed at the burning house only. Black lives matter NOW because they NEVER HAVE to many people in the world and they SHOULD and DO. If peaceful protests are now being used as a decoy for additional hateful activity which is designed to frame, intimidate and cause unnecessary and unrelated physical, mental and emotional damage, we do need a new way. I wish I knew what it was.
Your life matters to me. I see you and I am deeply sorry for what you and your family have endured for generations. I have been erroneously thinking that the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. was progressing, but I have not truly seen how far we have to go. I will use my voice and life and words to help.