As a mental health blogger and advocate with lived experience, there are certain topics that hit my news feed on Flipboard, on the (somewhat annoying) "trending" section of Facebook, on NPR, and on my Wordpress feed that deeply effect my psyche. All of the recent shootings is one of those topics. Black Lives Matter vs All Lives Matter is one of those topics. 

If you didn't know (and you probably don't), I'm a mixed raced female: black and white with a lot of Cherokee ancestry on my "black side".  I grew up with the typical "oh, you're an oreo" comment. I grew up with people assuming I was Hispanic from my skin tone and as a result teachers used to hand me pages in Spanish to take home to my parents. In my grade school life, the population consisted of mostly Hispanic and white. I didn't realize how much that affected me until I reached High School. 

I was an outcast. I was placed into the college prep class because of my skin tone and for three years was the only non-hispanic person in the class. Therefore we watched a lot of Spanish films. We heard from the Brown Berets. We talked about ways to better the hispanic community.

My advanced placement classes were 99% white. It was only me and one other mixed race student. We were forced, rather than encouraged, to read books by black authors and when we did, we were made sure to know the author was African American or Latino. We couldn't just read a book by another author, we had to take into account the race of the author because she wasn't white. 

In history, we spoke about Native Americans as if they didn't exist anymore. We spoke about slavery and racism as if it's better now

Race, in this country of America, is the most convoluted topic I've ever experienced thus far. It's still dividing our schools not because of immigration (everyone without indigenous blood is an immigrant), not because people are racist, but because we've learned to tolerate the way of the world. We've learned to tolerate bigotry and hatred and say to ourselves "well, that's just the way things are". 

I'm not saying we can change that. I'm not even saying we should. 

I'm coming from a place of deep confusion; I wouldn't dare claim to have an answer for all of this. That would make me a political writer and in this day and age with the state of politics, I wouldn't want that label burdening me. 

What I will say is that this country is in deep need of healing. We have so many open wounds, so much history we've only acknowledged and never accepted, that sometimes I feel it's impossible we'll ever be able to label Barack Obama as just the 44th president without also adding he was the first African American president.

I'm not saying that is not an accomplishment. I'm only asking does it matter: Does it matter to the point where we can't recognize or speak about people without mentioning their race?

I watched a video of an unarmed man with his hands in the air, a behavioral therapist sitting in the street with an Autistic, suicidal man, shouting to the cops that they were unarmed, that the Autistic man held a toy car and nothing more. The cop shot the therapist in the thigh while his hands were still up. The therapist asked "why did you shoot me?" and the cop replied "I don't know". The Autistic man is now too traumatized to return to his group home, and the therapist walks with a cane. 

I see Black Lives Matter groups storming the streets. I see "All Lives Matter" on twitter. 

I agree that all lives matter. I agree that black lives matter. 

My problem with All Lives Matter is that if all lives did matter, they would understand where the Black Lives Matter group was coming from. 

They would report all the shootings of Unarmed people instead of battling the Black Lives Matter with statistics that more white people are killed. 

They wouldn't have formed as an opposition, but more so as an advocate. 

They wouldn't take offence; they wouldn't think "Black Lives Matter" means "Black Lives Matter More Than Any Other Life". I haven't heard one BLM group claim they're the best in the world. 

They feel discriminated against (and rightly so). They feel hurt and saddened and angered that even in 2016, this is the reality. 

I mean, it did take America until 1924 to "allow" indigenous people "citizenship", so honestly no one should be surprised this is the state we're in. 

But rather than take a moment to share in this hurt and anger, people oppose it, say the feelings aren't valid because of statistics, and refuse to listen. 

Racism isn't why we're still here. We're still here because we don't listen. We don't feel. We don't walk in other's shoes. We cry for equal rights and then oppose someone who fights for equal rights. We're numb because "that's just the way things are". 

And people ask why other's mental health is so fragile these days. 

 

Published by Alishia Dauterive