I am embarrassed to admit that it took bringing an African-American baby into our family to feel these things at this level. Because that means that despite the fact that prior to Asher I had black friends, black neighbors, and black co-workers, their struggles used to be things I could opt into or out of as I saw fit. They were burdens I would carry at times but at other times I would set them aside. If I am honest, pre-Asher I surely did give casual assent to the sentiment that #BlackLivesMatter, and yet in my own life they did not have to matter all the time, so fluidly was I able to free myself as needed from the pangs of tragic shootings or the injustice of constant surveillance.
Post-Asher, the violence hits home a lot more, as does the inescapability of his eventually being harassed, harmed, or worse. I am newly aware of the constant peril faced by my African-American brothers (and, in different but no less hurtful ways, sisters). I can now more easily appreciate just how much it hurts and how hard it is, a big part of which is that the pain is felt all the time.
To my friends and colleagues for whom this has been a lifelong struggle, I am sorry. I know you will not begrudge me for caring for Asher more than I care for you. But I regret that I did not previously care for you enough that I would wear some of your burden with you at all times. I now do, but I once put it on or took it off as suited me, not appreciating the privilege I had to be free to do that while you couldn't, and not valuing you enough to be more fully with you at all times rather than just when it was expedient for me.
There is so much commentary that one often feels is necessary to add to the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Today I'll simply append ...#AllTheTime. From pre-Asher to post-Asher, that to me makes all the difference.