“All lives matter” (2014) is what some White Americans and their hangers-on cannot seem to stop their colour-blind racist selves from saying when the phrase “Black lives matter” comes up. Not just ordinary people, but even those running for president – in both parties.
“Black lives matter” became a catchphrase and the name of a protest movement in 2013 after George Zimmerman was found not guilty and got away with killing Trayvon Martin. The phrase and the protests took off a year later after the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
Over the past year or so citizen video and Black Twitter have made clear to the nation what many Blacks have long known: that police regularly kill Blacks and get away with murder. As if Black lives do not matter.
So at the very least, under the circumstances, saying “All lives matter” in answer to “Black lives matter” is like saying “All diseases matter” to an AIDS activist. A true statement, yes, but one that is so besides the point that it comes across as either wilfully obtuse or heartless.
But sometimes it is uglier than that. For example, “ALL LIVES MATTER” was written across a painting of Sandra Bland, right across her name (pictured above). As if “All lives matter” is Whitespeak for “Black lives do not matter.”
Anyone who truly believes that “All lives matter” would not say that when the issue of Black Lives Matter comes up. Because if all lives truly do matter, then so do Black lives. So they would not rub out the “Black” with the “All”, given the times we live in. They would be concerned enough to know that the phrase means
“Black lives matter TOO,”
and not twist it to mean
“ONLY Black lives matter,”
so that they can dismiss the issue.
Those who say “All lives matter” do not care about Black lives. Not one bit. Arguably, they do not even care about Whites lives. What they do care about is dismissing or avoiding issues of race. Changing “Black” to “All” does that.
Mike Huckabee, who is running for president, said last week:
“When I hear people scream ‘Black Lives Matter,’ I’m thinking, of course they do. All lives matter. It is not that any life matters more than another. That’s the whole message Dr. King tried to present, and I think he’d be appalled by the notion that we’re elevating some lives above others.”
That addition of Dr King is telling. Whites bring him up when they want to silence Blacks.
For most Whites, King’s “whole message” seems to be boiled down to just one quote from just one speech. Yet in that very same “I Have a Dream” speech Martin Luther King said:
“There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.”
– Abagond, 2015.
- Black Lives Matter
- Mike Huckabee
- Martin Luther King, Jr
- colour-blind racism
- wilfully obtuse
- The Black-on-Black crime argument – because I know it will come up