I remember, as a young kid, attempting an experiment I had been dared to try. Not just by kids my age, but adults too.
What would happen if scrubbed my hands long enough?
Could my hands turn white?
Maybe I could be like everyone else - a phenomenon I hadn't really experienced growing up in a small Northern Michigan resort town.
I had been informed this magic trick might actually work. I didn't have much to lose. After all, my skin was dirty, or at least, not very clean. I had been told this enough times, I thought it might be true.
It was never explained to me why being white meant being clean. It has always just been assumed. Think about the language we use in our culture. The color white has been equated with cleanliness, purity and every good thing.
Things that are black - dirty, rebellious, evil, sin.
We even sang it in church, "What will wash us white as snow? nothing but the blood of Jesus". I've never liked that song. I remember wondering if that meant I would always be bad.
Moreso, I had never really understood what was wrong with being black. I guess that had always been somewhat assumed too. After all, it was black people who did most of the crime, it was black unwed mothers living on welfare, purposely getting pregnant so they could steal money from the government and eat junk food while sitting on the couch, watching talk shows and soap operas all day. Black people sold drugs, infecting our good, innocent white youth with all sorts of problems.
White people doing the same things? They probably were just victims of circumstances. It really wasn't their fault.
It's black men who deserve to get beaten by the police.
It's been a rough few weeks. I mean months. I mean years. I mean decades. I mean, it's been a rough history for black people in this country. We've watched the videos and read the stories. We all know what's going on right now.
America is at a breaking point. Really, a pivotal moment in our nation's history. It might be one white-hot summer.
We say Black Lives Matter, not because black lives are more important than any other lives, of course not. We say it loudly because, and it's hard to believe this still needs clarification, black lives have not been valued equally. Ever.
Black Lives Matter because I want my daughters to have the same freedoms and opportunities that white kids have.
I watch my almost 4-year-old daughter play or watch a movie or interact with other kids and wonder, sometimes in internal desperation - “how could anyone dislike my beautiful daughter simply because of her skin color?” And then think that my white parents probably asked the same question many times about me and my Hispanic siblings.
If my unborn daughter's (expected arrival - September) life is so crucial for the Pro-Life crowd, consider that the life of my already born daughter is just as vital. And, not just until she reaches a certain age, either. Her entire life matters.
It really shouldn't be that hard to say that Black Lives Matter. If it is for you, you should ask yourself why.
Being black in this country shouldn't devalue a human being, it shouldn't provide fewer opportunities and it certainly shouldn't make black citizens fear going for a jog, driving a car, watching television at home on the couch or sleeping in bed.
Black Lives don't deserve brutality and death simply because they might be accused of passing a counterfeit bill or selling cigarettes without tax stamps.
Black Lives deserve equality. Black Lives deserve the right to pursue the same lives, liberties and the ability to pursue the same happiness as anyone else.
Black Lives deserve the right to know that our skin is just as clean as anyone else's.