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Originally published on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 2015 at 8:00 AM

Black Liberation is Your Liberation

If you are still wondering why Black* lives matter, you probably don’t fully understand what matters about your life.

I used to look in the mirror and wonder why life mattered at all. Not because I was depressed. Not because being one of several billion living souls felt insignificant. Not because of some existential crisis brought on by some fictional movie about a world inside a world inside a world inside some extraterrestrial's mind. I wondered why life mattered at all because already at the age of five, I was well aware of the danger, discomfort, distrust, disdain, and dehumanization that accompanied my dark skin. I wondered hopelessly how we could live in a world that bred so much hate for a person’s color, when there is so much love to nurture in our youth.

I grew up having friends from cultures that spanned the globe. Finding common ground came naturally without the intrusive (and often demoralizing) social beliefs of adults in our lives. We saw our differences as opportunities to learn and grow beyond the cultural boundaries set by society. Connecting with others like us (and not like us) is a natural part of human development and discovery. Both the beauty and innovation of humanity is found in our diversity. This is a truth reflected in every subject through which we learn more about who we were, who we’re becoming, and who we could be.

But, without the stories of how we met, what we built together, and how we impacted one another’s communities, we wouldn’t have much to celebrate in the realm of human advancement. Within all of this, you must acknowledge that each and every one of us matters, or you and I wouldn’t be here. But, when even one of us ceases to matter, none of this matters. You only matter if I matter. I only matter if you matter. For seeing the humanity in me as a Black*, Queer, female-bodied member of the same Earth you claim to cherish, the only cost to you is healing and activating the humanity within you. Black* liberation is YOUR liberation.

Without the former, the latter does not exist.