When I decided to share on my blog and social media about my breast cancer, I received an overwhelming amount of support. So many people sent me messages of prayer and healing and love. Not one single person suggested that breast cancer isn’t really that bad and I should quit whining. No one told me it was selfish or wrong to focus on breast cancer when there are so many other kinds of cancer out there killing people every day. My #breastcancer hashtags were never answered with a chiding #allcancer hashtag. People recognized that I needed to focus on the fight I had in front of me, the breast cancer fight. People thanked me for “being brave” and sharing my story. People extended me grace.
And now, in the wake of a truly awful week of racial violence in my country, I’m left wondering why we can’t extend that same grace to our black brothers and sisters who are suffering from the cancer of a long history of injustice? Why do white Americans get so defensive and ruffled up when someone says #blacklivesmatter, as if they had said #onlyblacklivesmatter? No one ever reads #breastcancer as #onlybreastcancer. Why do we feel the need to minimize black Americans’ experiences? To tell them they are wrong to focus on the fight they have front of them?
I don’t get the compulsive need to say #alllivesmatter. Of course all lives matter. No one said they didn’t. I was devastated by the killings in Dallas. For goodness sake, I cry when strangers post on Facebook about their dogs dying. How could you possibly think all lives don’t matter to me?
I experienced a lot of pain and suffering because of my breast cancer. And our black brothers and sisters are experiencing a lot of pain and suffering because of the injustice they and their families face due to the color of their skin. You listened to my story when I was in pain. Will you not listen with an open heart to their stories of pain? Will you not extend them the grace you extended to me? When you see #blacklivesmatter can you not accept it as an expression of the fight someone is facing in their own life, in the same way #breastcancer was an expression of the fight I faced?
Many of you have asked me in the last year what you could do for me. And this is my answer: You can take all that amazing prayer and healing and love you gave me and give it to people who are hurting in your communities. Black lives matter.