You’re in the hospital. Your heart is failing. The doctor just gives you an IV to keep you hydrated. When you ask him what he can do to help your heart, he simply shrugs and says, “All organs matter.”
“But Doctor,” you say, trying to keep your composure, “my heart is the organ that is in the most critical condition. It needs special attention right now so it can heal!” The doctor considers your words for a few seconds, nodding his head slowly. You wait anxiously for his response, for his plan of action, but after a moment of silence he just shrugs again.
“All organs matter,” he repeats without emotion. He then turns his back to you and walks out of the room.
You lay in your hospital bed in shock, staring at the door through which your doctor just took his exit. The shock turns to anger as you realize all organs cannot matter until the heart matters enough to be medically addressed. You may not have gone to college, but it doesn’t require a doctoral degree to know that if the heart fails due to selective negligence by the doctor, then the rest of the organs are in jeopardy as well. If the heart fails, the body dies, taking the rest of the organs with it. You don’t want to die. What the hell is wrong with your doctor? Why doesn’t he care? Why does he keep invalidating your medical condition by pointing out the importance of all of your other organs that aren’t currently in danger?
We, as humanity, are the body lying on the bed in that hospital room. The Black community is the heart that is screaming for its right to a pulse. Every other organ in the body represents everyone else. We all matter, but we are not the ones in critical condition right now.
But we will be if the heart isn’t taken care of. If one organ is neglected, we are all neglected. If one group of people is targeted and unsafe, we are all unsafe. Violate the rights of one and all are threatened. Don’t you get it?
I keep seeing metaphors trying to explain the Black Lives Matter movement to people who cannot seem to grasp it. However, many of these metaphors keep taking the humanity out of the situation. One example that keeps circulating on social media is that Black lives are a house in the neighborhood that is on fire. While every house in the neighborhood is important, the one that is burning deserves special attention until the fire subsides. Another similar example describes Black Lives as the burning Amazon Rainforest. Caring about the condition of the Amazon doesn’t take away from the concern for any of the other rainforests in the world, the Amazon just happens to be the one that is burning right now. While both of these metaphors are accurate and effective in capturing the essence of what is happening, I just wanted to try to incorporate humanity back into the situation.
We are all connected. We are all an essential part of one collective body. We must take care of ourselves and each other if we wish to continue functioning in a meaningful way. Black lives need to be valued and protected. The heart needs to beat. Without a pulse, we are nothing.