#blacklivesmattertome (#BLM2ME)

Black Lives Matter to me (#BLM2ME)

These signs are everywhere, but what do they really mean?

What would it mean for African-Americans to have someone actually say to them, personally, eye to eye, “I want you to know that Black lives matter to me.”

I recently had the deep honor and privilege to meet someone who is doing just that. She is a White woman who approaches every African-American that she meets and says, “I want you to know, Black lives matter to me.”

In this Menah’s Matinee, #BlackLivesMatterToMe, I share her very personal and powerful personal story:

In response to the murders of African-American men and women and her initial feeling of helplessness after the George Floyd murder, a White woman in Blacksburg made a courageous decision. She decided to approach any African-American she met and say to them, “I want you to know Black lives matter to me.” She continues to expand her personal commitment. She shares how she now prefaces her statement to say, “Look in my eyes, so you know what is in my heart, and I want you to know that Black Lives Matter to Me.” She said she realized that Black people often do not know what White people think about them, whether they care or hate, whether they are racist or not.

And by December 31, she hopes to have spoken these words “Black lives matter to me” to at least 100 African-Americans. And she is still trying to do more. She shares that she wants to start a new movement/campaign called #BlackLivesMattertoMe. This campaign/movement requires approaching an African-American, making eye contact, and saying to them, “Black Lives Matter to Me.” It is a small gesture, but a big step. She said she hopes that if she sprinkles a bit of good in the world, it will spread. I hope so.

The amount of courage it takes to be an ally is not inconsequential. I admire the decision my friend made. We are building a friendship, not based on race, but around music. She is the founder of Renaissance Music Academy

We both appreciate the importance of music lessons and its impact on children (and adults). She recently gave me a tour of the Renaissance Academy, and I sat in on a group cello lesson! The Academy impacts over 300 students a year. Friendships start with a recognition of each other’s humanity.

As we continue our conversations, we are wondering if there are other courageous allies who are willing to join in with the #blacklivesmattertome campaign. To look into the eyes of an African-American and ask them to see what is in your heart, and say to them “Black lives matter to me.” She has shared her vision with her friends, but no one has joined yet.

Her one woman campaign #blacklivesmattertome, reminded me of my blog post last year:

I shared my thoughts about allyship, in general, and between Black and White women in particular:

Awareness:  Be aware of what is happening.  Don’t be ignorant. As an ally, you should be substantially informed about what is happening around the world, not just your neighborhood, your community, your state, your nation, but the world – for everything is interconnected. To be aware, you must educate yourself.

Ok, so you are aware [not the same as “woke,” but you can never be woke if you are not awake and aware.]

The second step:  Acknowledgment.

Acknowledge White racism.  Call a thing what it is.  One must be able to acknowledge that racism exists. One cannot be color-blind.

The third step: Advocate.

Advocate.  Step in and counter White racism whenever you see it or are aware of it.  I shared that often White allies do not become advocates. It requires an open revealing of your identity on behalf of another.

And the fourth step: ALONE. ALL BY YOURSELF.

Stand alone.  That is what allyship requires.  You step out there, with your knowledge, and you stand. By yourself. On your own convictions. Alone.

Aware; Acknowledge; Advocate; Alone.

This work of allyship is really hard and courageous work.

You have to show up, step in, stand in, stay in, and most importantly, speak up, often alone.

If you want to take a small step and are courageous enough, join the new campaign, #BlackLivesMattertoMe. Share your story in the comments or on the Facebook page: https://business.facebook.com/Blacklivesmattertome-103203545471140/

You can also buy a T-shirt or sticker to continue to spread and sprinkle good in the world at

https://emmanuelaopc.bigcartel.com/

PS. The T-shirt I am wearing is a gift from a beautiful colleague and friend who did an internship with me this summer!

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