One could argue that as we age, as we mature through the various phases of adulthood, it is our duty to evolve. This doesn’t mean we should abandon our core principles; rather, we should simply strive to become more open minded and willing to consider others’ viewpoints.
As a middle-class white male living in Cherokee County, my first instinct was to immediately reject the entire BLM movement. I couldn’t relate to it or understand it. I knew (and still do know) how hard policing can be, how underpaid many peace officers are, and how immediately armchair quarterbacking every officer involved shooting can lead to misunderstanding and over simplifying complex situations.
I was even resentful of their name: Black Lives Matter. What about my white life? It matters too! But over time (admittedly, it took a while), I began to understand what members of the BLM movement believe: that systemic racism in many of our institutions have marginalized people of color in this country, confirming that Black lives historically have not mattered as much in this country as white ones. BLM simply believes Black lives should matter as much, no more or less, than mine.
But still, even after accepting the name of the movement, there was still one remaining obstacle I struggled to overcome: the issue of images speaking louder than words. Some of the video and imagery of the protests (then and now) made, and can still make, me uncomfortable. The screaming and yelling at police officers. The graffitied and looted businesses. It was tempting to associate those individuals with the entire BLM movement, rather than the vast majority of supporters that protested peacefully.
With the benefit of humility and time, I have come to appreciate the context and significance of Black Lives Matter, and how supporting both law enforcement and BLM are not two mutually exclusive ideas. My opinion of Black Lives Matter has evolved. I’ve gone from being a skeptical critic of the group to now being a proud supporter of the movement. As mentioned above, this evolution didn’t occur overnight. But that’s what BLM is asking of us, challenging us to do. To evolve. I invite my fellow Cherokee County residents to accept BLM’s challenge, and to join me in supporting their movement.