White People, Please Stop Saying All Lives Matter. Your Privilege Is Showing.
I’m sure the title of this post will upset a number of individuals. If you’re one of them, take a few deep breaths, open your mind, and read this post completely, with an open heart.
“All Lives Matter” as a response to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is misguided at best, and downright offensive at worst. I’m not going to give you a history lesson about the BLM movement, and how and why it developed. If you care enough to have an opinion about the BLM movement, you should care enough to educate yourself about the facts behind the movement and what it truly represents. It does not in any way imply that ONLY black lives matter; the message is that black lives matter, TOO.
We already know white lives matter. We’ve known that since the colonists arrived and “conquered” the first inhabitants of this land we now call the United States. This country’s history is steeped in racism and bigotry – from its inception. As a blonde girl from the South, I’ve been privileged in many ways my entire life. (We’ll leave issues of sexism for another day, another discussion.) The only responsible thing for me to do is acknowledge my privilege, and understand that not everyone has had the same experience.
Perhaps, just for a moment, pause and think: if you are a white person in this country, you have no idea what it’s like to navigate this Earth walk as a person of color. Instead of feeling threatened by the BLM movement – which seeks to address issues of which you know naught – understand and appreciate that we all have different experiences. While you can’t be expected to understand what it feels like to go through life as a person of color, you can:
- Acknowledge you are in no position to know what black people and other persons of color experience. We cannot know what it’s like to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,” so to speak.
- Have some empathy. Be aware of and respect the feelings and emotions of other people. Don’t judge, and don’t argue with them when they tell you how they feel. Listen and respect their experiences. Empathy can be a powerful force for social transformation.
- Work to bring people together, not pull them apart. Responding to the BLM movement with All Lives Matter increases division, not unity. It is possible to support the BLM movement, believe in equality for all human beings, and support responsible law enforcement. Jon Stewart said it eloquently two years ago:
“You can truly grieve for every officer who’s been lost in the line of duty in this country, and still be troubled by cases of police overreach. The two ideas are not mutually exclusive. You can have great regard for law enforcement and still want them to be held to higher standards.”
It is a tragedy when a black person is killed by police. It is a tragedy when a white person is killed by police. And it is a tragedy when police officers are killed in the line of duty. (Do you know how often each event occurs? I have an idea, and we all should. The numbers are disturbing, they are not debatable, and they are part of what created the BLM movement in the first place.) And you can mourn in all of those circumstances.
As the late, great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
For the sake of all us and future generations, open your mind, have some empathy for fellow human beings, and be part of creating a united, just world where people are judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin (to paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.). Believing all lives matter means understanding, respecting, and embracing the BLM movement.