When is a race issue not a race issue? When it's not affecting you.
According to a lot of Twitter.
I have been watching with horror over the last few weeks the bubbling undercurrent of "well intentioned" white folk trying to jump on issues like Ferguson and now Eric Garner's murder to the cries of "this isn't about black or white, this is about people" which could be summed up by the excruciating ignorance of #AllLivesMatter.
When you hear of a homophobic attack in the news, do people jump up and start shouting "Heterosexual lives matter too!"? When you see someone collecting for heart disease in the street, do you kick their collection pot of their hand and scream "Other people have cancer, you know!"? This isn't subjugation olympics. This is real life every day prejudice that many, many, many people of colour have to face every single day. Just to live and breathe. And sometimes, too many times, racism is the cause of them no longer being able to live and breathe.
If you can't see why the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner (and Tamir Rice, and Trayvon Martin and Rekia Boyd and Amadou Diallo and Aiyana Stanley Jones and Kathryn Johnston and and and) are a race issue, painful as the old adage may hit, you're part of the problem.
If you can recognise and admit that and how the systems which benefit few are very much part of the problem, you can go about becoming a part of the solution. Educate yourself, read up on this stuff*, start conversations, listen loudly to what is being said and consider your actions and your words. Racism needs to change. It absolutely has to. But this is not going to happen as long as people are covering their ears to the agony of it because they are afraid it will make them feel inherently guilty.
Yes all lives matter, no one is saying otherwise, which is exactly why it is time for white people to start listening and stop behaving like they need to defend a system which is systematically designed to keep so many of us down.
I'd recommend the following links as a good starting place: