Every day from about the age of five years old up until the age of 18, my classmates and I would say the Pledge of Allegiance. For those of you who may have forgotten the words, it goes like this:
“I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Notice how at the end it says, ‘with liberty and justice for all.’ When I look back at this, I ask myself, are we actually providing liberty and justice to all Americans? The answer is simple: No.
I’ve been wanting to do something more than just sharing content on social media, but I wasn’t sure what exactly that would be. I thought to myself, as a white man, do I have a right to speak up? Would I be stepping on toes because I am a white man? And then I had a good friend of mine say “Seth, that’s the whole point.” What he meant by that was that we need everyone to come together and speak up about the issues happening in our country.
I would lie if I said I was okay at this time in our country because I am not. I am angry, frustrated, and sad. Better yet, I am shook. But this is only a small fraction of what black people have been experiencing over the years. It breaks my heart to not only see the systemic racism in our country, but how divided our country is.
I’ll admit that that I may have received the short end of the stick when it comes to testing positive for Huntington’s Disease and one day ending up deteriorating both physically and mentally. But that doesn’t make it any better knowing that many of my friends (some who I consider family), colleagues, and countless other people of color are constantly facing oppression in our country.
It’s interesting to hear people continuing to say “All Lives Matter” because they aren’t diving deeper into the reason behind the Black Lives Matter movement. Let’s first look at the Black Lives Matter’s mission – to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. Now you can try to say, “but Seth, there is a lot of black on black violence we aren’t discussing.” Well research shows that this is due to the social and economic inequalities that black people face compared to white people.
Let me paint another picture for you. Imagine if you were at an event for a specific cause (we will use Huntington’s Disease for this example) and suddenly someone yells, “I support all rare diseases!” That’s great, but this specific event is focused on one specific rare disease. Similarly, the Black Lives Matter movement is focusing on the social injustice black people have been facing for hundreds of years.
For my fellow patient advocates – Imagine if your loved one or someone you care deeply about was treated poorly…all the time. Personally, I would do anything in my power to make things right; and that’s exactly what black people are trying to do with these protests.
One of my manager’s once told me how it’s important to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and I couldn’t agree more. Try having these conversations with others no matter how uncomfortable it can be.
More importantly, try to have these discussions by phone or in person! Let’s stop hiding behind our phone or computer because it won’t do anything besides getting both sides angry at one another. As much as I love social media and technology, it’s easier to communicate and understand someone’s point of view based on their tone and/or body language.
I may not have all the answers (because I don’t) but what I do know is that we need to start coming up with ways to fix the systemic racism that has been destroying our country. And trust me, racism didn’t magically go away after the Civil Rights Movement and then suddenly reappear two weeks ago. You may just be seeing it now because you aren’t black or a person of color and haven’t been experiencing this throughout your life. If we want change to truly happen, then it starts by going out to vote. This is where YOU come into play. Let your family, friends, colleagues, and everyone else know the importance of voting the proper people into these different positions. I am not saying change will happen overnight and that it will be easy, but I know that when we come together and work as a team, we will be able to bring positive change in society.