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Essay

Black Lives Matter

by Grace Bonney

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 8.07.10 AM
I spend most of my days here talking about the concept of HOME and how to make it a more meaningful and welcoming one.

But I have never once had to worry about my loved ones getting back safely to that home for fear of police brutality. That is a privilege all people should know, but they do not.

I cannot sit idly by and watch black people be murdered and then receive absolutely no justice at the hands of a racist and unjust system.

This morning I saw Lisa Lucas say that she, “[Went] to sleep heartbroken over one murder, [woke] up heartbroken over another.” That feeling is overwhelming and I cannot talk about “lifestyle” here today when the first part of that word is being ripped away from black people on a daily basis for everyday acts like selling CDs in front of a store, having a missing license plate, wearing a hoodie or calling for help.

To all of my white friends: please speak up, stand up and show (through action AND words) your support for black people. Call your officials, call your police chief, speak to your neighbors, put out signs support that send a message, protest, be an ally, do EVERYTHING you can to make it clear that you will not passively stand by while black people are being murdered every day without consequence. My heart breaks for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile it must be said again and again and again: Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter.

Grace

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Comments

  • Yes, Grace. Black lives matter, white lives matter, all lives matter and finally, police lives matter. I post this after the horrific shooting of 12 police officers in Dallas. They were also, sons, husbands, fathers, brothers. Who will speak out for them? Will you? LKS

    • Lin

      Did you read the post above this? I just discussed the murders in Dallas.

      The reality is the system has shown that it values some lives (white lives) above other lives (black lives). Until that system is corrected and black people are not targeted and killed at greater %s by police enforcement, ALM is a hollow cry.

      Grace

  • Thank you! I happen to be white. But my friends’ list looks like a United Nations roll call. I don’t care what race your are, every life is equal. And as a society, when we discriminate and hold hostage any group of people, we all lose. I do see one point being absent from all the discussions. Yes, there are bad cops out there. We have to do something about that. But when you resist arrest, you give them the excuse to shoot. Not warranted. But they use that against you. And a dead person can’t testify against them. What ever you do, should you find yourself in a place where the police want to question you, do what they say. Hopefully there will be someone nearby videoing it. But please don’t give them an excuse to get away with murder. Because that’s what both of these cases are. Pure and simple murder. And its time it stopped! My prayers go out to these men’s families and friends. I can’t imagine what its like to be in their shoes right now. But its time we all realize we need each other. And its time now for the white community to step up and join in the protests. We can’t bring about change until we all get behind this. Its way past time.

    • Kim

      There is no excuse to get away with murder, period. And none of the people who have died in the past 48 hours have given anyone a reason to kill them.

      To suggest that merely following police orders will solve the problem is woefully unrealistic. Black citizens are following police orders (as in the case of Philandro Castile, who was asked to retrieve his ID) and are STILL being killed for following orders and just “doing what they say.”

      Telling anyone, especially black people, who represent a greater % of people being targeted and killed by police, that benign everyday actions (which rarely result in death for white people) are the reason for their death, is like telling women to change the way they dress so they don’t get raped. The responsibility in these situations lies with the people holding the weapons, literally and metaphorically.

      Grace

  • Yes, black lives matter; all lives matter. Even those police officers in Dallas last night. They were mowed down by black people. I am certainly not a racist and I wish that all people could just get along. I’m not making excuses for the police, but look at what happened in Baltimore and Ferguson. My daughter is a cop and I worry for her just like any other mothers worry, whether black or white. Dallas has a lot of black cops as well as other cities, two mentioned above. What about our military guy who have given their lives for us, as well as the police protecting us. Not all black or white people are bad, just like all police aren’t bad.

    • Sandi

      No one is saying that all black people or all white people are bad. They’re saying all black lives matter because the system is proving time and time again to not value black lives. They are not respected, not defended in court and they are more and more often the primary target of over-zealous and racist law enforcement officers.

      Please read the top site on the post today. We share in the grief and mourning over the loss of five of Dallas’ police officers. I can only imagine how frightening it is to have your daughter go to work every day at a job where her life is at risk. But I also know that black people feel the same fear just sending their children to school or waiting for their spouses to come home from work. So yes, in theory, all lives matter, but in practice, some are being valued more than others. That said, we can of course mourn and remember and honor all of the innocent victims of the past 48 hours.

      Please note, your choice of phrasing when saying “mowed down by black people” feels incendiary. Five Dallas police officers were brutally murdered by (although we are still waiting to learn who the additional snipers were) someone who appears to be a military veteran, a young black man, who was in need of mental help. To simplify him and his identity as “black people mowed them down” seems as unfair and inaccurate. He no more represents all black people than these Dallas police officers represent all law enforcement. I think the one thing we can agree on here is that not all people are good or bad and no one should be reduced to the color of their skin.

      Grace

      • I want to thank you for this post and for your wonderful reply concerning the “All lives matter” controversy. It helps to no end to try and communicate these difficult problems rationally and without malice and you did that so well. To speak out and speak for so many is admirable and I say Bravo!!

        • Popping into the conversation to echo Nancy. I can only hope that the posters who continue to ignorantly cluck that ‘All Lives Matter’ someday learn the difference between exclusionary rhetoric and focused rhetoric. Until they stop lazily projecting the word ‘only’ before ‘Black Lives Matter’, there’s little hope that this cultural violence will end.

  • Thank you! I am a black women who reads this lifestyle blog every day. Everything posted here is to better our homes that we are to feel safe and comfortable in. I thank you for taking a stand with me on this very uncomfortable issue, in this forum. Your words fall on ears that have wanted to hear this from so many. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. #BlackLivesMatter

  • Thank you Grace for your Black Lives Matter post. From the bottom of my heart. Your call to action is necessary. I’d like to add this. It’s crucial for all of us to know that it’s in our (human) nature to consciously and unconsciously look for comfort. A big comfort zone is being around people who look like ourselves. We have to fully understand how much that part of our nature creates and strengthens the barriers that feed exclusion and racism, and push against it in our daily interactions. I believe the huge majority fervently desire to participate in a racially diverse & harmonious community, country, and world. But so many of us – of all races – just don’t have the stomach to fight, fight, fight. Everyday living is stressful and hard and we covet any snatch of comfort & happiness we can get for ourselves & our families. Making someone aware of an unintentionally ignorant or racist comment is uncomfortable. So we don’t say anything. Choosing to hire that qualified but “Different” person might not be comfortable for everyone in office. So we bypass them & hire the same. Interacting with a “Other” friend when there are situations that you see differently is uncomfortable. So, much as you like them, you don’t socialize with them outside of work. Not everybody has to fight the Big Fight. Recognizing and pushing through the small discomforts until the “otherness” is not a barrier, will do just as much. Maybe more.

  • Grace,

    I have followed your blog for quite some time. I work for a company who both our main company and sister company’s use your blog as a very resourceful tool for inspiration for us. I supported you and loved what you do before this post and love and support all that you are and what you do so much more.

    As a Black woman I appreciate you being vocal about the killings and war on Black people in this country. We’ve watched so many people lose large followings and be completely disrespected for their choice to support the Black and Brown communities during these tragic times. I applaud you for being brave and unafraid. I know a lot of people may look at you different or choose to no longer support you, but you’ve proven that it all doesn’t matter. Thank you for your voice.

  • I want to thank you Grace, for your courage and conviction in your initial post and for your continued professionalism and CLARITY as you respond to comments today. I’m so impressed with how you use your ‘voice’, and I deeply appreciate all that you have shared with your readers. I think it’s after 5:00 now on the East coast, it’s time for you to grab a glass of wine and unwind.

  • If all lives mattered, there would be no need for this post. If all lives mattered there would be no need to explain that the #Blacklivesmatter movement does NOT mean other lives don’t matter. If all lives mattered people would understand that pride in one’s race does NOT mean that one is racist. Too many lives OF ALL COLORS were lost this week and if it makes some uncomfortable to talk about it, imagine just for a minute how hard it is to navigate in a racist society. I spend many hours on the road for my job and on the few occasions I’ve been stopped by police, I’m filled with dread EVERYTIME. Thank you Grace for the courage to open up this dialogue In spite of the opposition you may receive. I truly commend you.

  • Grace,
    Thank you so much for your post!!
    Because YES Black Lives Matter!! Every time I see another death I am so ashamed! Ashamed that as a white in this country I am just in these last few years finding out how bad this is! Ashamed that we have not already known!! How can this be??? Why are we just now finding out how many black lives have been lost at the hands of the police?! Every time I hear of a ANOTHER Black life lost I think things will change, but the numbers of innocent deaths keeps on and on and on!
    Yes I am sad for the police, but my outrage at the death of innocent black lives has to be spoken because we must speak about this loss since the press does not!! We must speak out against it to let those who are supposed to protect us ALL that we are all watching now, and we EXPECT it to CHANGE!

  • This is my first time reading you. I am white, my family is bi-racial. I agree with most everything you said. I certainly understand the need for black lives matter, however I will never support the actual organization. I have seen too many member supporting violence against police, heard others deny it and shown the proof.

    • Wendy

      The proof that BLM is a primarily peaceful organization is everywhere. Please see the protests of this week. The murders in Dallas were not done by a BLM member, they were done by a mentally unstable former military veteran who was known to be a part of other more extreme groups.

      BLM peacefully organizes on a weekly basis in America and they, the protestors, are more likely to be attacked than the police. If you did not read or watch what happened after Ferguson, you’re missing the core of what that group is about: peaceful but meaningful demands for equality and freedom from racial injustice. And during and after those protests they were routinely attacked, tea-gassed and arrested by police.

      I feel strongly that most people who feel BLM is “violent against police” rarely fail to call Christians “violent against police” despite the fact that police offers are killed by religious gun-rights advocates as well.

      Here’s further reading if you’d like to actually understand BLM and their motives and what they’ve actually done, versus the misconceptions that have been spread: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/black-lives-matter-violence-cops_us_55e77d82e4b0c818f61a9de8

      Grace

  • Thank you Grace. I am an afro-german woman, living in Europe and and I`ve been following your blog for some years.The news from your part of the world fill me with bewilderment and sadness but also a small feeling of hope. People connecting and white allies supporting is empowering to see.

    • P

      Please make sure you’re aware of the context of those statistics you’re stating.

      I’ve sited that WP stat as well- it’s accurate, but you’re failing to put it in context. White people make up the majority of the US population, but black people make up 13%. Or, as the NY Times explained it: “31.8 percent of people shot by the police in 2015 were African-American, a proportion more than two and a half times the 13.2 percent of African-Americans in the general population.”

      Black people are more likely to be arrested and killed than any other minority racial group. To put that further into context of why and how that’s happening, this report from the Upshot at the NY Times is an important read: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/18/upshot/police-killings-of-blacks-what-the-data-says.html?_r=0

      Grace

  • BLM was based on a lie. I consider them a terrorist group, especially now that they have assassinated 6 police officers in Dallas. Stop perpetuating the lie and do your homework before you post these lies. As the wife of a retired NYPD Homicide detective who served 31 years PROTECTING THE PEOPLE OF NYC, PARTICULARLY HARLEM AND THE SOUTH BRONX, I am offended by your article. Police have saved more lives than can be counted. This president has done more damage to this country by his radical views, especially towards race since the day he took office. You are so blind you cannot see the forest from the trees. Open your eyes and stop perpetuating lies. The truth has a way of coming to the forefront but much damage has been done.

    • Vin

      I’m leaving your post to stand so people can understand the sort of misinformation that is out there right now, and how that misinformation does nothing to protect or unite anyone: law enforcement, black people, or Americans as a whole.

      BLM is not a terrorist group, nor are they a lie. To learn about what they actually are, please educate yourself with these two articles:

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/black-lives-matter-violence-cops_us_55e77d82e4b0c818f61a9de8
      http://blacklivesmatter.com/11-major-misconceptions-about-the-black-lives-matter-movement/

      I respect and thank your spouse for their work in the NYPD. Working in law enforcement is a terrifyingly difficult job that comes with a lot of responsibilities and I agree that a lot of officers uphold those responsibilities with dignity and respect. Sadly that is not the case for all officers, as we have seen and as the BLM matter movement is attempting to bring to light. We’ve also seen that the justice system surrounding law enforcement officers does not hold officers accountable for murdering black citizens. No one is pointing a finger only at law enforcement officials (again, read the article above about what BLM actually believes and stands for), but rather a system that allows racism and brutality to exist and not have repercussions for those (civilian and law enforcement) who violate basic civilian rights.

      To blame President Obama for an entire country’s problem of racism and corrupt justice systems is scape-goating at best. I understand that it feels easier and less painful to look at one person or one group as the cause or blame for all of these murders, but that is impossible, inaccurate and fails to take into account all of the issues in play here: systematic racism, corruption of power, and- most recently-, mental health.

      Grace

  • Thank you for writing this, Grace, and for doing so here. So few non-political publications are prepared to get involved in anything that might be the least bit controversial, allowing people who wish to continue living in privileged bubbles to do so, while, in this case, the system which benefits them kills others. Thank you also for showing grace and patience in responding to the comments; my blood pressure rose just reading them. You were aptly named.

    Black Lives Matter.

  • This article, as well as your responses to comments, was one of the best and most thoughtfully and articulately laid out that I have read on this topic. I go back and forth between reading/watching the news and my design junkie hobby, each for relief of the other. To come across this, which marries the two so courageously and actually connects them in the deep idea of “home”, has moved me and inspired me to wonder what more I can do from my own position. Thank you! You have gained a new follower today.

  • Thank you Grace for your thoughtful post, and thoughtful responses. It’s been a heartbreaking week for too many. I love your blog, and am happy to see so many people I admire take on the difficult task of discussing race relations in America today. I’m sorry that so many seem to think it’s an “us against them” issue to support Black Lives Matter, and to support police. The support should not be mutually exclusive. Supporting Black Lives does not mean wishing ill will on police. It’s about justice and peace for the black community, who have seen far too many of their own die at the hands of police. I’m a white woman, who sat with black friends this weekend listening to how scared they are just to leave the house. They never know when they will be targeted for their skin color alone. I can’t understand, but I can empathize, and I too can say to everyone, every chance I can, Black Lives Matter.

  • Thank you for this sober,non biased approach on this sensitive matter.
    When the society decides to mute over social evils ,we need courageous people who will speak out..

  • Hi Grace,

    I just want to join the many people that are praising you for posting such an honest, vulnerable and very important piece on your blog. And I am even more impressed with the gentle and educated way you have interacted here in the comment section.

    Thank you.

  • Grace,

    I want to add my voice to the chorus of people commending you for this post. It is insane to me that it is controversial to state that the lives of entire race of people matter, but I know that as a lifestyle blogger, you risked losing readership to stand up for what is right.

    So many people want to maintain “safe spaces” on social media, among family, or in their circle of friends where no one ever discusses anything “controversial,” or political, but that is part of the problem. Those of us with privilege are unwilling to endure the moderate discomfort of talking about race in order to address the extensive discomfort the marginalized experience every day of their lives.

    It should not be taboo or risky to discuss the fact that for too long, black lives have not mattered and that we all need to come together to acknowledge and remedy it. Everyone with a voice and a public platform should be speaking out.

    As always – you rock.

    July

  • Thank you for speaking up and taking a stand. And for backing up your statements with facts and links and information.

    It’s far too easy to look the other way or to remain silent, especially if we are part of the majority who do not live the reality that many experience every day. And I include myself in that “remaining silent” because for all of the times that I have spoken up? There are times when I’ve chosen to remain silent or change the topic out of fear of offending/losing friends and family.

    • Sandra

      I identify with that feeling so strongly. I have, for far too long, not pushed hard enough when members of my extended family have said racist things. I always do the “Hey, you shouldn’t say that…” thing and then they roll their eyes and keep talking and I let it go because I don’t want to “make a scene”. But I’ve realized that moments of discomfort are important and can lead to real change and honestly, if the hardest moment I have to get through is an awkward or tense discussion with my family, I am beyond lucky. So many people have to do with that, face-to-face, on a daily basis because of who they are or what color their skin is and speaking up with my family is small potatoes compared to having to speak up for yourself every day…

      Grace

  • I’m sorry, but your entire outlook on these incidents is flawed. Just as the President condemned the police without ALL the facts, you are guilty of the same. Perhaps you forget about the violence and lawlessness of Ferguson, But BLM is also about bad behavior using racism as THE excuse. If whites formed a group “White Lives Matter”, how would that be perceived? Yup–RACIST! We ALL need to stop, think, find out the facts BEFORE we react. These incidents , on both sides, only weakens and hurts all of us.

  • Grace, thank you so much for posting this on Design*Sponge! As a woman of color, it is very difficult to navigate what is going on in this country regarding what the Black community and many other communities of color are going through when it comes to the police. I grew up in LA and at a very young age had to deal not only police brutality that we saw on a daily basis, but also the uprisings that occurred after Rodney King police officer acquittals. I grew up with a distrust of the police, those who are supposed to serve and protect us. As an adult, I see that not every cop is bad or a racist but we all definitely need to recognize that the system is letting down certain communities and that their training is insufficient. I come home and read Design* Sponge so I can tune out the world. It made me so happy that someone said something about BLM in a website that doesn’t seem related at all to what is happening in our country but your acknowledgement on how it is a privilege to get home is an important one. For years, I have used websites like this to build a home for myself, a place where I can create a sanctuary from what is happening. I truly appreciate you for checking our privilege and taking on the burden to explain the BLM to those who do not understand the complexity of the issue.

  • Grace, I have to commend you on the graceful, tactful and practical way you addressed dissenting commenters. I watch the issues around BLM and Trump rhetoric from afar in Australia. It is saddening and concerning especially because we have similar rhetoric here regarding immigration and rights and recognition of our indigenous people. It is upsetting but you have shown the best way to tackle this is with information and not to pander to the emotional reaction. Sadly through, none of it may penetrate if people are not willing to be open to understanding what it’s like to stand on the other side in the other shoes.

    • Vee

      Thank you. As I return from replacing our 7th BLM sign in our front yard (it’s been stolen or driven over 6x now), I find myself again trying to find compassion and understanding for people who feel differently than I do. I hope if nothing else, once this election is over, we can try harder to hear and understand each other.

      Grace

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