In Saugerties, every day at 5:30 p.m., people gather on the corner of Main and Market streets to proclaim that black lives matter. We are encouraged by the many people who walk and drive by and express their support either by honking or making some gesture like a thumbs up.
But occasionally someone will yell, “All lives matter!” in anger. If only American society upheld that principle.
Of course all lives matter, but no one has ever doubted that white lives matter; indeed for much of this country’s history they were the only lives that mattered.
The ancestors of black Americans were brought here against their will. They were bought and sold as if they were cattle. Our constitution counted slaves as 3/5th of a person. They were denied the vote. Law enforcement allowed lynchings and enforced Jim Crow laws. School and housing segregation created achievement and wealth disparities. Our nation caused the problems and disparities faced by our African -American citizens. In many ways, including access to the vote, these injustices persist. And as the videos have so clearly shown, law enforcement does not provide justice and protection equally to our black citizens.
The great American democratic experiment is threatened by this injustice. It is time to end it. Because until black lives matter, all lives in American do not matter.
Com’on, America. This is a step along the path to “a more perfect union.”