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Floyd Else, MA, LMHC (ret.), NCC, MAC

What does Black Lives Matter mean to an old white guy?

If you hear Black Lives Matter, and you think, All Lives Matter, You are just not getting the message.

Author: Floyd Else, MA, LMHC (ret.), NCC, MAC

Posted on July 15, 2020

An Opinion piece By Floyd Else, MA, LMHC (ret.) NCC, MAC, Counseling Washington Webmaster.

The massive "Black Lives Matter" protests are protests against systemic racism in American society triggered by repeated instances of police killings of Black people across the country.

These protests are about racial injustice and the police killings of black and brown men and women--it is not okay--Black lives matter!

I am a white man in America, and I benefit from white privilege.  The "Black Lives Matter" protests have made me aware how much white America’s detachment from racism is an endorsement of racism.

Imagine the news today reported a man jogging through his neighborhood was pursued by a couple of residents, cornered by their vehicle, and repeatedly shot with a shotgun as he tried to run by. That is terrible!

No, wait—don’t worry about it--it was a black man jogging.  He might have been a burglar.  Good thing someone was looking out for the neighborhood.

It sounds sort of like the old frontier backwoodsman saying, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian."

Back then, the protesters might have been chanting, "Indian Lives Matter," And if your response then was, "all lives matter,” I would say to you again, "You Just Don't Get It, Do YOU!”

Over my lifetime, I have been stopped by the police several times while driving my car.

I remember being pulled over on a residential street--flashing lights.  The policeman was very polite, apologetic even.  He said, “You probably do not know why I pulled you over, but one of your headlights is out, and you probably had not noticed.”

I thanked him and told him I would get it fixed right away.  And I did.

The other time I remember being stopped on the freeway by a highway patrolman.  He came up to my car window as I rolled the window down.  He said, "Do you know how fast you were going?"

I do not remember why, but I was irritated by his question and responded, “I thought you were supposed to know before you pulled me over."  (His face hardened, he took my license and registration, went back to his patrol car and wrote me a speeding ticket, while I quietly sat waiting and mentally scolding myself for talking like a smart-ass.  (Thinking: “That was not polite.”)

In each of these cases, I benefited from white privilege.  The officer was not afraid of me and did not draw his gun as he approached my window.  He did not immediately ask me if I had a weapon in the car—as usual with black drivers.  Thank God, he also did not shoot me as I reached back over my hip to get my wallet out.

Police have shot two black drivers recently--one black driver in Lakewood, WA. Reportedly sitting in the driver’s seat with his hands up!

So next time you hear protesters chanting "Black Lives Matter,” and you think, "Stop Police killing black people—Black Lives Matter TOO!,” You’ve got it right!

Floyd Else, the Webmaster, is a retired chemical dependency Counselor and Licensed Mental Health Counselor who lives in Bellevue, WA.

See: Counseling Related Acronyms and Abbreviations Dictionary


Race relations--systemic racism in policing, justice, employment, and education


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