STILL KICKIN HERO AUGUST 2016
EVERY MONTH, OUR PROCEEDS SUPPORT A NEW PERSON OR ORGANIZATION WHO DEFINES WHAT IT MEANS TO BE STILL KICKIN.
THIS MONTH, IT'S NOT ACTUALLY A PERSON.
Still Kickin is officially a year old. That’s a year of cultivating empathy and bravery, of telling stories of hope and resilience and reality, of facing hard things without pity or defeat. We’ve helped humans through ALS, Parkinson’s, sexual assault, the death of a loved one. We’ve lost two of our Heroes in the process.
Still Kickin is made of two simple words that anyone can see themselves in. We all struggle. We all suffer. We all have untapped strength within us, and we all deserve to be seen and heard through the Hard Things that inevitably come for us.
This month, our two simple words are here to support three other very simple words:
BLACK LIVES MATTER.
It’s another relatively young organization, born from suffering and struggle, dedicated to making the difficult reality of systemic racism and oppression seen and heard and changed.
It’s a no-brainer for some people (cough: me and our board) and a phrase that sends others into a defensive.
If black lives matter, does that mean that white lives don’t?
No, folks. To paraphrase a billion internet memes and tweets, shouting ALL LIVES MATTER is like going to a brain cancer fundraiser and being like WHOA WHAT ARE WE SAYING WE DON’T GIVE A RIP ABOUT BREAST CANCER OR LUNG CANCER OR OTHER CANCER. Of course not, dude. We're just acknowledging that brain cancer is bad and could use a cure.
If black lives matter, does that mean that *blue* lives don’t?
Nope. See above.
If black lives matter, does that mean that my life matters less?
No. Your life is super important.
Does making the world more fair for other people make it less fair for me?
No, there’s like, a ton of fairness to go around. It’s basically limitless.
To recap: no no no, and no.
Again, I think there is a meme about this somewhere, but if the words “All Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter” don’t make you angry, but “Black Lives Matter” does? That means the word that bothered you was “black” and it’s time to just admit that you’re a racist, okay?
Last month, in our hometown, Philando Castile was shot four times during a traffic stop, in front of his girlfriend, who filmed the experience for a world that would jump to poke holes in her story, and her toddler, who watched an important man in her life die violently in front of her while her mother was immediately handcuffed. Think about that: think about watching your beloved die, and knowing that you better document it, so that the world would believe you. I 100% guarantee you I would not have felt compelled to do that. Nope, not even a little bit. And you know what? It’s a good thing she did, because while many in our city and country sprang to a too-late defense of this man, others rushed to justify this shooting: how many times had he been pulled over, anyway? Was he in a gang? Had he forgotten to call his mother on Mother’s Day ever? When was the last time he went to the dentist?
“... if the words ‘All Lives Matter’ and ‘Blue Lives Matter’ don’t make you angry, but ‘Black Lives Matter’ does? That means the word that bothered you was ‘black’ and it’s time to just admit that you’re a racist, okay?”
As a white woman in America, it’s my job to acknowledge my own privilege.
The idea of privilege is really fucking uncomfortable for people, myself included. Because hey, *I’m* not terrible, right? But that’s not what people are saying when they talk about white privilege. They aren’t saying that YOU’RE terrible. You’re (probably) not terrible. Nobody is discounting your own human experiences, they are asking you to look outside of yourself and the way you experience the world, to consider the experiences in this country that exist outside of your own, particularly if you experience the benefits of being white. You know, like being pulled over and not being nervous at all about being shot.
There are tons of people in our world who believe that privilege just means wealth, but that’s not true.
But what does it mean? Does it mean that my own life isn’t hard? Does it belittle my own experiences? No. It doesn’t.
For me, it is knowing that my white son and my black nephew will be navigating the world in two very different ways. It is knowing that in 2015, a white man shot up a black church in North Carolina. It was a massacre. And the police were able to take him into custody, slap a bullet proof vest on him, and take him to Burger King. He was, according to the media, a troubled teen. It is knowing that a group of white kids can turn over cars after a hockey tournament without being killed, but a group of black people protesting very real violence are immediately labeled as terrorists and thugs. It is acknowledging that yeah, even though my life has had some certifiable hardships (dead dad! dead husband! miscarriage!), it sure is smoother being a white woman.
Racism is systemic. It is not over. It is a cancer in our society, but we don’t have a special bracelet for it or hold walks to cure it because it requires us to see an ugliness we’d just... rather not.But this is our job as humans: to see each other through. To listen to another person’s experiences and acknowledge them, not to tell them that they are misunderstanding their own life. To see the ugly parts of this world, parts that don’t readily show themselves to us, and to offer up more than a shoulder shrug.
“But this is our job as humans: to see each other through. To listen to another person’s experiences and acknowledge them, not to tell them that they are misunderstanding their own life. To see the ugly parts of this world, parts that don’t readily show themselves to us, and to offer up more than a shoulder shrug.”
This is our (small) way of doing this: of letting people know that we see them, we hear them, we stand beside them.The shirts are limited edition, the sentiment is everlasting.
Nora McInerny Purmort
Founder and CEO, Still Kickin, and the Still Kickin Board of Directors