Commentary: Why ‘Black lives matter’ should matter to you too

By Peter E. Carter

Lest you start making assumptions, let me reiterate from an earlier Commentary that I remain an advocate for kinder and gentler. What we have here though is a national and somewhat local movement to call attention to what has been an American reality for at least a century.

By the word “matter,” we mean “count,” “to be taken into consideration,” “to be respected.” That is relatively simple.

The challenge is that some of you just do not like those of us who live life as Black Americans. It is not anyone’s fault that we look the way we do, that permanent dark tan as it were. If fault were to be found, it is that a long time ago, our ancestors were brought to these North American shores to assist, without pay, with the economic development of the colonies, especially in the cotton-cultivation business. Yes, we keep in mind that chieftains in the motherland were compensated for their release of certain natives to the European businessmen, taking two to tango.

That said, and that done, let us briefly review what has caused Black and white men and women to take to the streets to demonstrate against the continuing maltreatment of brown and Black human beings by a relatively few members of the law enforcement community.

On a larger scale though, we have to examine the indifferent treatment of the same group by a significant number of the American population. Why? To them the brown and Black among us – of which I am one – do not count. As a result, the line from that terrific 1976 movie, “Network,” comes to mind, “I’m as mad as hell, and I am not going to take this anymore.” Tens of thousands of our fellow Americans are, by their peaceful and constitutionally guaranteed actions, uttering the words spoken by Peter Finch.

It seems to me that not only do we all have to adopt and maintain the kinder and gentler model, but we have to insist that we respect one another in word and in deed and in feeling. It is challenging to ascertain what can cause one human being to dislike, or even hate, another merely by virtue of skin color or ethnic origin or even sexual preference, but too many do.

What is the source of these ignorant and illogical feelings?

I am not in any way qualified to answer that and so many other questions dealing with this issue, given that my area of expertise is education, not psychology or sociology or even anthropology. I can propose though that we try even harder than we have been to make all lives matter, especially the lives of those human beings who may not share one’s skin tone and hue. Unless I missed some facts during my schooling, it is sperm to egg to birth for all mammals, of which the human species is an integral part. There is absolutely no difference in the process for any of the mammals and certainly no difference for the humans.

With reluctance for some, and reaction for so many, we are certainly advocating that life and lives do matter and should not be taken away by a policeman’s knee. We all need to follow Colin Kaepernick and take a knee, not out of disrespect for the symbol of our great nation, but instead due to the concern of what has been happening to Black men on a much-too-regular basis.

Yes, Black lives really do matter, my life matters, your life matters, and the lives of all who protect and serve us also matter.

Peter E. Carter is a retired private and public school administrator who lives in Lewes.