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This is a touchy subject, but I wanted to voice an opinion and hear from you to help me understand and gain more perspective.
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For the longest time, I was one to think or say (quietly in my mind or sometimes out loud) how I want equality for all and how everyone matters and no human being is really entitled to determine who gets to live in the midst of chaos.

It’s like this whole kumbaya spiel of how I wish people would give other people a chance. A chance at peace. A chance at life. A chance to understand one another. A chance to respect each other. Or how everything would be better if people weren’t so quick to judge, point fingers, accuse people of being or thinking a certain way or hating a race or an ethnicity because a few bad ones behaved one way and ruined it for everyone else. I wanted to somehow push people to try. At least try. But hey, people are people, and it will always happen – the judging, the bias, the bigotry, and the shootings.

Now, the whole thing with “Black Lives Matter” and people dismissing that phrase with an “all lives matter” or “all colors matter” statement is problematic. The problem with saying those two phrases is that they undermine that black lives do, in fact, matter. The phrase “Black Lives Matter” in no way claims that other lives do not matter.

There’s bias with news pertaining to stories about black lives. They’re not really considered “news” because young, black men are killed in significantly disproportionate numbers (federal data for 1,217 fatal police shootings between 2010 and 2012 showed that young black men were 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by cops), which may be why we don’t treat it as anything really new.

According to mappingpoliceviolence.org, police killed at least 102 unarmed black people in 2015, which is nearly twice each week. Almost one in three killed were identified as unarmed (actual number might be higher due to underreporting). Get this…apparently, only 10 of the 102 cases in 2015 where an unarmed black person was killed by police resulted in officer(s) being charged with a crime.

How do we solve this? Can we have better training for all of us to acknowledge our subconscious prejudices and increase accountability to help impede the excessive use of brutality and force? To clarify that there are indeed consequences in misusing and/or abusing our rights and powers?

In the recent case of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, two white officers were arresting Alton Sterling, a black man, after responding to a call about an armed man around a convenience store. The officers had Sterling pinned to the ground and with Sterling unable to move, one of the police officers yelled, “he’s got a gun!” and within seconds from that, Sterling was shot by at least one of the officers.

This is raising all sorts of questions and outrage pertaining to law enforcement and racial disparities.  Autopsy reports show Sterling having died of multiple gunshot wounds. According to the convenience shop owner, the officers were “aggressive” from the start, and though Sterling was armed, he was not holding a gun, nor did he have his hand near his pocket at the time of the shooting. So what really happened?

My main point is, we don’t pay attention to certain people’s deaths as we do to others. We do not treat all lives as though they matter equally. Saying “Black Lives Matter” isn’t at all saying “ONLY Black Lives Matter” in any size, shape or form. It’s not an anti-white proposition, either. The statement “Black Lives Matter” actually carries an unspoken but implied “too,” as in “black lives matter, too,” which encourages inclusion rather than exclusion. By saying “all lives matter” or any other variations of that phrase, is a slap in the face, not to mention, a dismissal to the very problems that the phrase “Black Lives Matter” is trying to convey or draw attention to. So please, next time you are about to say and/or argue “all lives matter”, be conscious that there is a silent added “too,” to the end of the phrase “Black Lives Matter”.  Black lives matter, too.

15 COMMENTS

  1. This is, in fact, a touchy subject. I’ve heard both sides far too many times, and both make compelling arguments. There’s evidence of extremism ending in DEATHS because of this movement, Micah Xavier Johnson, I believe because they were dissatisfied by the lack of voice in the movement lately. I understand you’ll always have a couple bad eggs, though. However, being in a household with the people the Black Lives Matter movement are trying to get to, it’s done nothing. It’s only caused extra bitterness about race because it seems people will only hear what they’re willing. I personally am all for it, and agree with what it stands for. It just feels like the impact has been more troublesome than educational as intended.

    • Very touchy, indeed. Alex, I hear you. I feel that violence happens when people don’t feel like they have enough love or power. We all want to be heard and feel like we are important. I’ve also seen many get annoyed and bitter for seemingly being grouped into the stereotypical “you don’t get it, you are privileged – you’re playing victim” realm of things. It’s easy for people to get defensive when comments like “Black lives Matter” are uttered. For many, they automatically retaliate with “WHAT! Blue Lives Matter, all lives matter!!” because they don’t really understand the purpose of the movement. When we’re fundraising money for cancer, for an example, we don’t say “there are other diseases too!”

  2. Completely agreed, and I’ve never thought to dismiss the phrase “Black lives matter” with “all lives matter.” It’s unnecessary and rude. Thank you for writing this.

  3. It’s absolutely true that society in general needs to understand that “black lives matter” simply means “black lives matter, too”. As obvious as it should seem people tend to over look this.

    • Yes.To say “Black Lives Matter” is not to say that other lives do not matter because it’s actually the reverse. It is to recognize the fact that all lives do matter and this movement is working towards that. A friend of mine commented that he walked into a clothing store with his wife and 1-year-old in a stroller and was being sneakily watched and followed by their door employee. It’s for people to realize that society ills still continue to exist to this day and society isn’t quite there yet with being color blind as African Americans are often targeted unfairly.

  4. Of course, all lives matter. But black lives are constantly at risk from brutality by police. White lives aren’t. That was the whole reason the movement was created, because the law enforcement and judicial systems decided that black lives mattered less than those of the cops who shot them. Thank god for cell phones, or there would be no chance for real justice.

  5. Completely agree! People often say “you can’t say ‘black lives matter’ what about the other lives?” But even tho they matter too, RIGHT NOW the black lives are been threatened more than any other ethnic

  6. I retired from a global company. We have greater diversity than any company. Most employees are not Americans. We have I suspect 40% muslims. There is no problem. We have a common culture and we share it. Our policy is NO discrimination of any kind.

    To answer your question. Always examine the motive of the person with the grievance. The person has only three things driving them. Is is affiliation – we want to get along. Achievement – We want to get better skills and jobs. Power – We want to be in charge. If you assume the wrong motive or think a motive can get satisfied by your standards – bend over.

  7. That last phrase, I think, encapsulated the intent of and need for the message and movement “black lives matter” in the simplest way I have seen. Black lives matter too. That is what the default mindset should be – it is the goal: the deconstruction of the stereotypes that clump an entire race into one terrible, incorrect mold. White lives don’t need the focus like that – the mindset is already a reality. Keep saying #blackLivesMatter and keeping pushing for actual change. Don’t let these tragedies be forgotten.

  8. From a Latina perspective, the black lives matter movement is an extremely important part of history in how it’s one of the first majorly recognized movements in the rights for people of color since the civil rights movement. It brings attention to the fact that there is still inequality in a system that has “already given attention to racism” when it’s just changed forms. While people of color don’t have to drink from seperate water fountains, the fact that middle aged white women often still clutch their bags a little more when we are around is proof that we are not seen as equals. The fact that the black community even had to scream so much in agony for lives lost shouldn’t have had to be the evidence of inequality in a system that harms, a system that physically harms people of color. People of color shouldn’t have to pull up the fact that people have died, lost their lives, literally just for the color of their skin. “But he shouldn’t have been walking out past curfew” or “he should have just cooperated with the police if he was innocent” doesn’t change the fact that the police killed unarmed people because they couldn’t de-escalate the situation enough so everybody lives. There shouldnt have to be blood running in the streets to recognize the inequality. And by inequality I mean racism, but that’s a dirty word in our society. People should not have to die in order to have the claim “we are being treated unfairly” validated. Saying “black live matter” is more than just a statement. It’s a reminder. You can add the implied, “too” if it makes you feel better to recognize that black people or only an additive to the importance of white people. But the fact is that we aren’t concerned for white lives, the police take care of y’all. Y’all are covered by the system. That’s not to say that some white people are treated unfairly by the system, but failing to recognize that having pale skin means that you did not have to go through certain experiences such as something as damaging as racism is ignorant. “But people have discriminated against me, they assume I’m racist or that I discriminate or that I behave a certain way just because I’m white” okay but get this, for every one person who claims that about you, you have about nine other people who tell you that you’re special and cared for and that you’re not like that. And that’s just in the media. News outlets like fox are so quick to tell you that things like the BLM movement is extreme, that people asking to not be killed is extreme. The best thing you can possibly say to someone who is saying “black lives matter” is “yes, they do.” This will never mean that white lives don’t matter, but remember that this is also a reminder to those who forget that people of color are beings who deserve curtesy and respect, not fear and discrimination. And if you know those things already and practice them then don’t worry, the message isn’t for you. But I understand it’s difficult to not feel attacked when the focus is on something you can’t necessarily relate to. Seeing the attention on something that excludes you in television is hard, and you can’t claim it’s not because I know it is. Any person of color or queer person knows. We know. That’s what we feel every day when we live against the system that, quite frankly, kind of hates us. We know what it’s like to not see ourselves on television. And one person being black or Latino or Asian or middle eastern out of ten people is not diversity. We understand our pain, because that’s what you’re feeling. It’s our pain. Please recognize that sentiment when someone says “my life matters” because at this point people are honestly asking for their lives. And many of you might say that it’s a bit dramatic, but it’s also dramatic that so many white people feel the need to involve themselves image wise in a movement that is not intended to benefit them, and that’s what “all lives matter” is. It’s white people being dramatic. Thank you for this article, it’s extremely important.

  9. I am really glad you brought up this issue, considering recent events. I, too, think it’s highly problematic to rework the intent of BLM to serve the ends of those with white privilege, especially considering the over representation of blacks in shooting statistics. Thanks for reminding readers of this strange effect of creating a meaningful movement. May we never forget those lives lost, no matter how adamant some whites are in representing themselves at the moment of black tragedy. Would it be appropriate to mourn the loss of someone else’s loved one at the funeral or vigil for someone who was originally designated?

    So, why do ALM supporters do this in spirit?

  10. It’s very sad that white people feel undervalued and offended when POC try to stick up for themselves and protest the desensitization to the brutality and blatant racism that they face

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