Think about the time in which you had the opportunity to stand up for a smaller kid on the bus who was bullied every afternoon. Did you speak up? If not, was it the result of your insecurity to speak out against someone bigger than you or older than you? Was it centered on your deductive reasoning that if you speak out, then the bully will come after you? Perhaps, it was both. You were too nervous to speak up in front of a crowd of kids from your school so you succumbed to turning your head while it happened. At least, that way, he did not go after you.
Or did he?
Inadvertently, he did. You remembered the look on the little kid’s face as he sat and cried in his seat, while his fingers were interwoven and white from the pressure of squeezing his backpack tightly to his chest. From your seat, you could see the tears falling onto the mud-stricken floor and his back heaving while he tried to stifle the crying. That night, you went to bed thinking about how you could have helped him. You thought about him the next night, too. The thoughts eventually slowed, and you only thought about him every once in a while. Then, you thought you had forgotten him until your child came home crying because “the big kids were being mean.”
When you did not think it would matter if you helped out a kid you hardly knew, it did matter. It still matters. It all matters.
In that situation, he was an oppressed child. You might have only been the same size. You might have even been smaller; however, in that situation, you were not the child who was teased or bullied for simply being himself. Your mom once said, “Just be yourself. Everyone will love you.” That child’s mom once said that to him, too.
You remember this child when you turn on the news every evening, and you see lives being shattered out of racism, homophobia, and xenophobia.
Why do black lives matter? Shouldn’t all lives matter? In a sense, they do. They matter every day. They matter when you walk to class, eat lunch, and drive your car. They do not all matter, though, when a cop suspects a black teenager of a crime simply based on his race. They do not all matter when a girl who is wearing a hijab sits next to you on the bus, and you contemplate moving to a different seat. They do not all matter when a man and his fiancé want a cake, but the baker refuses to provide them with their chosen dessert. They did not matter when Rosa Parks was arrested for not appeasing the will of a white man. They did not matter when people from the Jewish community were annihilated based on one man’s severe hatred. They did not all matter then, and they do not all matter now.
By celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we do not suggest breast cancer is the only cancer worth acknowledging. It is simply a reminder to reach out to those in need when they may ask for help. It gives you time to acknowledge the lives lost from this illness. By celebrating any one group, illness, or organization, we do not suggest they matter over their counterparts. We simply suggest taking a few moments out of your day to educate yourselves on the actualities of the harm, exhaustion, and disrespect others may receive at the feet of their oppressors.
While you may think it does not matter in this exact moment, it does. It matters now, and it always will.
Lauren is a Ball State University alumna with a Bachelor's degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. She enjoys breakfast for dinner with a side of literary enjoyment.