Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to Jim Wallis, author of “America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America,” speak in my hometown of Detroit. He spoke about slavery, White privilege, and most importantly White accountability, which made many people in the audience uncomfortable. The common questions,
“Why are Black people so upset?”
“Why Black Lives Matter? Why not All Lives Matter?”
I’ve been reflecting on this for awhile now, trying to think of a way to help people finally understand what Black people are talking about. So here’s my explanation to why Black Lives Matter:
We’re not the ink pens on your desk. We’re the ink in those pens, trapped inside of tubes, sat on your desk, ready to spring out at the flick of your wrist; whether you’re the liberal White person that leaves the pen out on the desk for easy access, or the more conservative, putting the cap back on us and placing us back in the holder to ensure no spills….
You’re still in control!
Whether you’re the law professional that prefers their paper filled line-for-line with words that build structure, or the Dan Gilbert-minded individual who prefers many pens, of many colors; maybe even a few highlighters to give yourself more pleasant scenery….
You’re still in control!
The worst part about all of this is that the pen, the structure that holds us in place, is given more credit than the ink which makes it useful.
You tell us that All Lives Matter when we lift our voices. You ignore visual evidence to bring justice to your fellow artists that get mad at the ink and ball up the entire sheet of paper, throwing it in the trash through the gentrification of Black neighborhoods which disrupted your picture-perfect ideas caused by the movements of your own shaky hands.
Many of you refuse to understand our cries, and ask questions like, “What did America do that was so bad to Black people?” or “Why can’t Black people move on?” The answer is simple. You created ink pens. We became your art. We became your entertainment. We became everything you admire. This is where your Dunk Contests and Sunday afternoon Death Matches got their origin. Not much has changed. The Victors have always become the artists, and the Victims become the art. Now, how can the ink trust the hands of the scribe?
Black people are America’s Art. The problem is that art is worth more in limited supply. Today, America is faced with a dilemma: It has too much paint. Do you release this paint to create a less structured, abstract, and free world, or do you spend the rest of your existence staring at blank pages?
– Steven Farrar