Scrolling through various social media platforms, I’ve begun to see a common conclusion surfacing amongst some White people: “Black Lives Matter doesn’t include everyone. Isn’t that being racist too?”
In an effort to explain the necessity for a phrase that focuses on the preservation of Black lives, many people have created anecdotes and examples to help White people understand that this is not a horrible, racist action designed to imply that their lives don’t matter. Here are just a few:
With some of White America seemingly open to discuss the racism that has plagued the Black community for centuries, I made the decision to remain open to answer questions people may have in an effort to promote discussions that would lead to positive change.
Racism is obviously a very difficult subject to approach, especially between people who have experienced it, and those who must rely on second-hand knowledge to understand it. I was reminded of this as I engaged with a few people on social media.
An exchange between three people began about “All Lives Matter” vs “Black Lives Matter” and I responded to give input. In short, I explained that naturally, all lives matter because we are all human beings.
But since Black people are being killed by police and through hate crimes at disproportionately higher rates than any other ethnic group, it was important for us to stand up for ourselves and declare that our lives matter just as much as anyone else’s.
I went on to say that “All Lives Matter” takes that declaration away and silences Black people, redirecting the focus from the community in the most danger.
It also gives the false impression that Black and White people are viewed by society in the same light and receive the same justice within the U.S. judicial system.
After speaking on this, I received this response from one of the people in the thread:
“There are a million ways to respond to this but I’ll leave you with this…white people will NEVER understand what it’s like to be a black person so telling us we “don’t get it” is both pointless and offensive. I think a lot of us are very tired of being verbally abused, called racist, and told if we aren’t risking our lives fighting for your cause that we are complicit. As much as I would love to help you out, I’ve lost patience with the name-calling and abuse. Until we can find a way to work together (obviously not what you’re looking for) you are on your own.”
We will never come to a mutual understanding about the “all lives matter” debate if the sentiment above is the dominant thought-process. And I couldn’t help but wonder if this person became tired after an exchange on social media, how he would fare in the real world if the proverbial racism shoe was on the other foot. This is a necessary conversation, but it will require White people to put down their defenses and just LISTEN.
At no point did I call this person a racist, ask for help, or “name call and abuse” them. But since they were on the defensive, my words simply translated to an attack (aka: The Angry Black Woman, which is another story for another article).
Black people understand that not everyone will be ready to engage in this painful conversation. We also understand a few other things as well.
We understand that we are in the middle of the continuous fight for the liberation, justice, and freedom of our people. While some have deemed explaining why “all lives matter” isn’t the mantra for our movement as the most important issue here, we see it a bit differently. Because we are a little busy at the moment.
- We are busy trying to become HUMANIZED in the eyes of law enforcement and White America.
- We are busy trying to protect our children from meeting an early demise at the hands of someone who doesn’t like the color of their skin.
- We are busy trying to HEAL from the psychological trauma that we suffer on a daily basis; trauma that is only worsened each time one of our unarmed brothers or sisters is murdered.
- We are busy trying to fight and defeat a system that has consistently oppressed us since our ancestors were captured and brought here for the sole purpose of servitude over 400 years ago.
WE ARE JUST TRYING TO STAY ALIVE.
We are that one house on fire in your neighborhood. We are that one sheep in Jesus’ flock that went missing. We are the breast cancer cause that the world focuses on each October. The cause that oddly enough never seems to diminish the importance of other types of cancers.
Yes, all lives will ALWAYS matter. But all lives are not currently under siege — Black lives are. So the world needs to be reminded that our Black Lives Matter.
And if all lives really do matter, everyone should understand that.