Black Lives Matter. I’ve been hearing that phrase for years. Truthfully, I didn’t give it much thought. I didn’t consider myself to be prejudiced as I appreciated the Black culture. Of course, I acknowledged to myself that life was very difficult for African American people, but I justified that by reminding myself how hard life is for all people.
Society did the same by countering the phrase “Black Lives Matter” with “all lives matter” and so do “Blue lives matter.” Silently, I agreed. Yes, all people matter, I thought to myself.
Watching the protests unfold this week, after the gruesome murder of George Floyd, videotaped for all to witness, and seeing thousands upon thousands of people from all over the world, come together and march peacefully for one cause: Black Lives that have been prematurely cut short due to racial targeting, fear and hatred, I was filled with awe. Of course, the looting and violence was devastating and to be condemned. But I was stunned to see how many people were walking, lying down and kneeling down to make their point, peacefully.
Because in consciousness, we are all One, as the planetary consciousness begins to now make this great shift, I can feel the error of my past thinking become evident within me.
Yes, all lives matter. That includes the lives of police officers and people of every race and nationality. But to deny the specific oppression faced by this particular culture was wrong. The signs I kept seeing this week, “Silence Is Violence” awakened a moment of reckoning for me. I could no longer deny the pit in my stomach as I listened to story after story of injustice, humiliation and abuse of power the Black people have had to endure.
On the other hand, I also can feel a deep excitement to be a part of this great awakening at this time in history. How grateful I am to be alive to witness what is due the Black race—an acknowledgment and a promise for change going forward. Watching people of all ages and all nationalities come together to demand an end to the injustice endured by our black brothers and sisters is heart-warming.
As the brilliant playwright and author who so eloquently described the plight of being Black in America, James Baldwin, wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
As it’s difficult to face our personal mistakes in our individual lives, it often feels equally shameful to admit the horrors we stood by and watched because society condoned these acts.
Waking up takes courage and it’s exciting to see this happening now. Especially when it comes to people in power and we all of have some power in our lives, if nothing more than influencing the people closest to us with our words, beliefs and actions.
“It is certain that ignorance allied with power is the most ferocious enemy justice can have,” is another brilliant James Baldwin quote.
Which is why I was very impressed by Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the National Football League’s courage in finally standing up for his players’ rights to “condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people.”
Just a few short years ago, Colin Kaepernick, who was the first football player to “take a knee” in an effort to bring national attention to the epidemic of Black oppression, particularly at the hand of the police force, was ridiculed and “punished.”
It’s so easy to fall into thinking that a certain race doesn’t “work hard enough” or “doesn’t help themselves” or “are criminals that need to be apprehended,” and those sentiments have certainly pervaded white consciousness for decades, if not longer.
Looking more deeply at these ideas and searching for their origin, it’s clear that many of them are rooted in the human character flaw of needing to feel better than someone else.
We are born with a level of fear that is innately part of being human. The question, as we grow and live is: what are we going to do with that fear? Will we transform it with self-awareness? Or, will we act on it, causing ourselves and others pain?
I’ve spent most of my life helping people to eradicate addiction from their lives. The root of addiction is fear that can manifest as loneliness, boredom, shame and despair. It is “natural” to fear other people and the differences we see in them, compared to ourselves.
Similarly, we may fear the parts of our own self that we see as contrary to our personal self-image. Addiction is a way to distract yourself from having to face “unwanted” thoughts and feelings.
How difficult it can be to say, even in the privacy of your own mind and heart, “You are different from me. When I see you, I feel afraid. Yet, I do not have to act on this fear.
You have the right to exist. You have the right to love and power in your own life. You have the same rights I do. I don’t have to “like you,” but I can honor you because you and I are part of the same human family.”
Yes, ideally, we would be free of irrational fear completely, and praying for that daily is a noble act. But sometimes our prayers take time to be answered and Heaven may be asking us, “How are you handling the fears you do have, in the meantime? Are they controlling you, or are you tapping into the love and intellect I have given you, to over-ride them?”
It appeared to me when I watched the video of George Floyd’s arrest, that he was having a panic attack when the police apprehended him. Yes, he had most likely committed the crime of stealing a pack of cigarettes, after losing his job due to the pandemic. What if the police officer had tried to calm him down with kindness to get him to cooperate better? After all, he was in handcuffs, and not a threat.
But the fact that this didn’t happen has led to one of the most amazing periods of history being created in our time: Multitudes of people of all races, nationalities, color, age, cities and countries, coming out of quarantine to speak out for what is right and condemn what is not right.
My Black friends have been telling me for years about this oppression. I remember my dear friend, Kim, decades ago telling me about her brothers, all of whom are doctors and lawyers, being stopped and frisked in Long Island, New York, just because they are Black. I listened in disbelief.
My consciousness wasn’t ready to really take it in. Now it is. Mass consciousness can be very scary and it can be very beautiful. As a daughter of a Holocaust Survivor, I could never understand the mass consciousness of the German people who allowed such a brutal massacre of the Jewish people—their “friends” and neighbors, to occur.
But the power of a crowd is strong and palpable, both when the collective voice is for good or evil. Each of our voices can be equally strong when we have the courage to raise it for the betterment of all of humanity.
Seeds take time to grow. The Black Lives Matter movement started planting seeds in 2013 after the acquittal of the White man who gunned down the Black American teen, Trayvon Martin, whose “crime” was simply walking down the street. Though the event was disturbing, it didn’t bring us out in the street, in mass.
How interesting time is, both in our individual lives and collectively. Inertia can go on for decades and then a catalyst event occurs—in this case, the brutal killing of George Floyd, caught on camera for none of us to deny.
Finally, like the beaten woman who at last sees the inevitability of her need to escape—we, the people, are “forced” to admit, fear or no-fear, prejudice or no-prejudice—it’s time for us to rise up and be the change.
We can no longer turn our head to in-humane behavior. We can no longer justify or excuse it. It’s time now. The seeds are sprouting. It’s time to rise above fear and open our hearts and shine our love on all our brothers and sisters.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below. Your thoughts and experiences matter to me.
To Your Health & Happiness Always,
Rena Greenberg has had the privilege over the last 25+ years to work with over 100,000 people in 75 medical centers to help them lose weight without surgery.