For my white friends who struggle to understand why black people are so angry, let me offer my very poor and limited perspective as a white man who lives among and ministers alongside people of color.
I so often hear, “But what about white lives? Don’t they matter too?” or “When are black people going to speak up about black-on-black crime?” Well, of course all lives matter, and of course black-on-black crime is a big concern. But those questions miss the point and betray an almost inexcusable misunderstanding of the situation. The issue ultimately is the abuse of power. Every death is a loss, and all injustices are worth mourning, but when power is abused – especially when a historically marginalized group of people finds itself too often on the receiving end of that abuse – then the situation becomes suffocating.
I honestly think this is very difficult for most white people to truly understand, so I’ve posted this video – a clip from Braveheart – to perhaps help us relate. This is the scene where William Wallace’s young wife, Murron MacClannough, is executed by the English. Anyone watching this gets mad. We all get that visceral reaction of indignation when power is abused and oppression happens. And so we should understand that if Murron MacClannough had been murdered by a fellow Scot, there would be tragedy and anger and much to mourn, and not much beyond that. But being unjustly oppressed and murdered by the occupying English takes things to an entirely different level. It is enough to spark a war, because with this act, the Scots have had enough.
Nobody asks, “But what about English lives? Don’t they matter too?” or “When are the Scots going to speak up about Scot-on-Scot crime?”, because those questions miss the point. There are irrelevant to the abuse of power that the Scots were suffering under.
Hope this helps. Please contribute to the conversation if you have something edifying and constructive to say. Happy Thanksgiving.