A recent Gallup poll says that the number of Americans who see racism as our leading national problem is rising.
That increase is due, largely I think, to the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the way that movement has raised our collective consciousness.
The #BlackLivesMatter movement began with the use of the hashtag on social media after George Zimmerman was acquitted of the killing of African American teenager Trayvon Martin.
#BlackLivesMatter gained more traction after the 2014 deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York.
Started by three African American women—Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi—the #BlackLivesMatter movement is a loosely structured, decentralized network with no formal organization or leadership.
Over the past three years, I have thought more critically about race and racism than at any other time in my life.
Here are nine things I have learned from #BlackLivesMatter. (In a nod to the movement’s social media origins, I’m offering them in tweet-sized bites.)
- Dr King preached of “one day.” #BlackLivesMatter has reminded me that we are not there yet.
- #BlackLivesMatter has taught me that privilege may seem invisible to the privileged. Privilege is never invisible to those without it.
- #BlackLivesMatter has taught me that racism is not a “black people’s problem.” Racism is white people’s problem.
- #BlackLivesMatter has made me see that I am racist. I don’t want to be. I try not to be. I am.
- #BlackLivesMatter has helped me learn again that I can learn and change.
- #BlackLivesMatter has reminded me again to listen to others more and fix others less.
- #BlackLivesMatter has exposed a great deal of anger, fear, frustration and hatred in this country.
- #BlackLivesMatter has taught me that the need for apology and atonement. Our nation hasn’t done that. I haven’t done that enough either.
- #BlackLivesMatter gives me hope. Not a huge blazing sun of hope, but small rays.
These are only nine of many things. I’ve learned much more. Some of it is longer than tweetable sentences. Some of it is still running around in my head and doesn’t have words attached to it yet. Some of it so deep within me that I don’t know that I know it yet. Some of it may be too painful to type.
What about you? What have you learned from the #BlackLivesMatter movement?
Are you part of the growing number of people who see racism as America’s leading problem?
#BlackLivesMatter has amplified and focused a conversation nationally (and an internal one for me). Add your voice. Tweet me. Email me. Chime in on Facebook. Let’s talk and listen and learn and change—and change together.
Timothy Tutt is a wanderer, wonderer, husband, father, laugher, liberal, Texan-by-birth, Washingtonian-by-choice (yep, DC). He is the senior minister at Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ in Bethesda. Take a look at his blog ZenTexas.blogspot.com