Our Kids in Haiti and Black Lives Matter
First of all, it is important to note that this is a blog commenting on something that our kids in Haiti talked to me about yesterday. It has nothing to do with any type of political statement (as you will see if you continue reading), it has nothing to do with the organization called "Black Lives Matter", and it is not myself or All Things New taking a stand. That is not to say that I do not have an opinion or have not taken a stand, it is only to say that this blog is not about that.
Yesterday, when I was chatting with our kids in Haiti, 5 of our older kids posted the phrase "Black Lives Matter" with a thumbs up sign next to it. I was really curious as to how they even knew about this and what their thoughts were. I can tell you that they, along with most people in America and around the world, in no way believe it to be associated directly with an organization. What I can tell you is that they were excited about the phrase.
Granted, they live in a nation where almost everyone is black. They are all black and all of our employees are black. So to say "Black Lives Matter" in Haiti is a different thing than to say it in America. But I began to think about their context for the phrase "Black Lives Matter" and why they might bring it up to me and want to talk about it.
Here are some things that have shaped their concept of how white people are different than black people:
- When we first started going down to Haiti and getting to know our kids, it must have taken me at least 2 years to fully convince them that there are black people who are from America. I would say, "what about Lebron James or Kevin Durant, etc." They assumed, based on the Americans that they had met in their life, that every black person in America was born in a different country. I actually believe that it was the first black people that came down with All Things New that finally convinced them that there were black people in America.
- From their perspective, every white person in the world was rich and the vast majority of black people were poor. They still believe this.
- They understand the history of slavery in Haiti, they are taught about it in school. In many Haitian's minds they are still enslaved in many ways to richer and more powerful countries.
- Pictures and movies that they see that are based in America seem as unfamiliar and "fairy tale-ish" as actual fairy tales do to us.
You may be wondering my point. I told you this was not political at all, just an interesting look at the context that someone else has when they hear the phrase "Black Lives Matter" and there is no politics or organization associated with it. To them, it seemed like people were just making a statement that people with their skin color matter as much as people with any other skin color and in a world where this does not always seem to be true.
The other thing that I noticed is that they wanted me to be someone who believed that statement. They did not care about "All Lives Matter" or if I believed that there is systemic racism that exists in the world (side note, I do believe that all lives matter and I do believe that there is systemic racism in our world). They wanted to know that I believed that their lives matter.
Here is the thing about everyone reading this blog: You have helped us show them that. Regardless of where you fall in this debate, you have helped us to show these kids that their lives matter no matter where they are from and no matter what color their skin is. It is easy for a person with no hope to believe that they are forgotten and that their lives cannot mean anything. You have helped us to give hope and to show them that they are loved and that they absolutely do matter.
When I told them that I do believe the phrase "Black Lives Matter" they were all happy that I believed that and told me so. I wonder what the rest of the world sees when they see the phrase "Black Lives Matter" and the debate and divisions these 3 simple words have set off in America.