A fence with the hashtag "Black Lives Matter" bottom, foreground and a hashtag "All Lives Matter" on the top left background.

Either Black Lives Matter to You or They Do Not

There was a window of time when it was possible for people to ride the fence, not to be sure where you stood, to appeal to seeing both sides.

Sure, I wasn’t one of them – too much has happened to me, and the Black women and men I have known and loved over the years, for there to be a doubt in my mind.

But that window of time ended yesterday. We all know now which side we are on. There aren’t any neutral positions anymore. Either Black Lives Matter to you, or they do not.

I will engage anyone in conversation respectfully. In the past, this has included Canadian police officers and members of white supremacist groups in Quebec, as well as racists on the white left and anti-Black racists in the Tamil community. But no minds were changed in these conversations, at least not that I know of.

I have internal work to do as well. I am impervious neither to the psychological effects of racism, nor to the cultural signals that separate Brown from Black. And I am working so hard, so desperately, to get myself into a financial and career position that is not precarious – knowing all the while that my inclinations toward a better world compound my already difficult efforts to make it, in the world I actually live in.

But for better or for worse, I cannot erase from my being the truth that the person I loved most died because she was an African woman, and her life did not matter to very specific individuals who held the power of life or death in their hands. And so, for better or for worse, I am going to see these little troubles through.

My leaders are African and Tamil women, particularly queer African and Tamil women, who have taught me so much with long-suffering patience over the years. I would be dead today, or in a mental institution, or deep in the throes of self-pity and self-hatred, without their care and kindness and concern for me.

When Africans across the world are free, we will all be free: the systems that keep us shackled, and in which we are also complicit, were first designed to hold Africans.

I have chosen my side. I will follow my leaders. I will not be neutral in the face of injustice. There aren’t any neutral positions anymore.

by Lorenzo Fiorito, Geneva, Switzerland

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