I’ve had several people ask me lately, “Why are they saying ‘black lives matter?'” And follow that with, “I wish they would just say, ‘all lives matter.'”
I have explained that this IS precisely what they are saying. They are saying that all lives matter, but that black lives are the ones who are being treated as if they don’t. So, the phrase ‘black lives matter’ is a reminder not to value some people’s lives any less just because of the color of their skin: value all lives equally.
But, I understand the sentiment behind their objections. In fact, I like that phrase, “All Lives Matter.” I want to co-opt it. I want Americans to remember that all lives matter, and when we remember that all lives matter, here is a list of things I want you to think about:
- The black people who are killed by police, killed in prisons, murdered in racially-based crimes, and acts of street violence.
- The white people who are killed by police, by prisons, by domestic violence and murdered over personal disputes.
- The brown people killed at our borders, working in our fields, by diseases of lifestyle and the conditions of impoverished neighborhoods.
- The red people who have been killed by our government and Anglo-American western expansion, and who continue to die from poverty and neglect.
- The yellow people killed in the jungles of Vietnam and World War 2 concentration camps, as well as those dying in today’s iPhone factories.
And do we really have to use these dumb-ass color terms anymore? Let’s remember all the lives of all colors who are lost in our wars every day. And all the lives of all the colors who needlessly die at the behest of large corporations and monied interests. And all the lives lost through poverty, neglect, abuse, preventable disease, and interpersonal conflicts.
I want you to think about the kids, like my little brother, who died in misguided wars while the politicians who sent them over there kept themselves and their own kids safe over here. And think about the kids who died because a drone piloted by someone in Langley, Virginia blew up their schoolhouse far away in the Middle East.
Think about the unborn children who are killed in abortion clinics all over this country. Am I going too far? Maybe you should also think about the women who would die from childbirth or pregnancy complications if they didn’t have those procedures, or the unwanted children who are found dead in dumpsters.
There are no simple answers. Just a lot of hard questions and hard work we have to do, starting within ourselves, our families, and our communities. Left-wing and Right-wing can’t save us when they’re both wrong. More antagonism and partisanship can’t bring us closer together. Further disrespect for human life will not result in saving lives or improving quality of life.
While you’re at it, I want you to think about the value of your own life, and the life of that person you call your enemy. Find purpose, know yourself, and see the same potential in others. Make an attempt to understand them and you will understand yourself better.
So, yes, all lives matter, but today we’re saying black lives matter. Do you see why?
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