All the time, I’m hearing people say: “Sure, Black Lives Matter, but really All Lives Matter! Let’s not discriminate!” (I also hear people say that only All Lives Matter which I suspect is really just code for “I’m very racist and should live on an island alone”).
Fellow white people: nobody is saying or has ever said that your life is unimportant. This is demonstrated by the fact that we are in all the history books, we are not in danger when we come into contact with authorities, and the judicial system is probably going to be fair to us. You don’t need to shout that our lives matter because we have been absurdly aggressive about making them matter and making them matter more than other people’s.
There are groups of individuals for whom this is not true. Black people, for example. This is why we say that Black Lives Matter. It is not a threat. It is not divisive. It is simply saying “Hey, here are some people who matter and we are acting like they don’t. Maybe we should change that”. White person, we already know that your life matters so stop trying to be part of the tag line.
It’s like this. Say we go back to the time when women couldn’t vote. Then we have a rally that says women should be able to vote. Would you then be like “hmm.. I think these women are really saying that men shouldn’t have the right to vote, despite the fact that they are clearly just asking for their right to vote, so we should have a rally saying that men should still have the right to vote”. No because that’s stupid. If you would think that then may you be stung by a thousand bees.
For those of us white folk who say sure Black Lives Matter, but All Lives Matter, let’s be honest about what this is really saying: We feel very uncomfortable with (1) having to recognize that we are implicated in hundreds of years of racism, and (2) having to recognize that it is still happening today. The good news is that you can support the Black Lives Matter movement and rest assured that your life, and mine, will continue to matter. Our lives are irrelevant to this conversation except that we can use them to be allies.