Yesterday after reading an article on Facebook about police dismissing the protests of a young black male because…well, because he was a young black male and therefore what he said didn’t matter, (click here to see the article that started the discussion) an acquaintance on Facebook commented that she supported #blacklivesmatter but recognizes that racism does not stop with black people.
She went on to state that in her mind, all lives matter meant that “all people of color matter” including Indian, Native, Asian, Latino etc. She asked, if it was racist to be mindful and inclusive of other non-white groups. So she asked, why was it wrong to say all lives matter.
Because she sounded like she wanted an honest answer, saying she wanted her eyes to be open if there was a problem in her reasoning, I responded.
First, I thanked her for caring and for wanting more knowledge. And that she was right, that all lives do matter. Or at least they should. And that racism, and other -isms go beyond just the way the majority culture in the US today treats black people.
If that was what all lives matter meant, that all people of color had lives that were valuable, I could wholeheartedly agree with the term. Unfortunately, that hashtag was invented, and is primarily used, to silence POC. It started only after we as black Americans protested the actions of police and other authorities who treat us as if we don’t in fact matter.
I am well aware of issues with brown lives, Asian lives, and especially native lives. I try to keep aware of issues facing all POC with regard to the legal system. I work to keep the information circulating. None of that should be lost or forgotten. That includes white victims of police excess and brutality, like the white fifth grader whose dog was killed during his birthday party by an Oklahoma police officer coming to serve a warrant at the wrong house Click to see NY Daily News article
Abuse by those in power is a major concern, and the reality is all lives SHOULD matter equally, but like in Animal Farm, some do more than others. We should all care. Because POC are functioning like the old system where miners took birds down into mines with them because they were sensitive to air quality and reacted first, giving minors time to escape if the atmosphere went bad. Or maybe its more like the words of Martin Niemöller poem, “First they came for the socialists and I did nothing…” The one that ends, “…Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. ” (See more about Pastor and the full text of his poem at Wikipedia or the Holocaust museum
I do believe that each and every single human life matters. I would love to tackle every problem POC face with law enforcement. But I know my limits. That means it’s best for me to concentrate on one area at a time and for me that primary focus is Black Lives Matter. That doesn’t mean I lose track of the big picture. I know that many groups are treated as if they too don’t count. But if I break an huge problem down into small bits it ceases to feel overwhelming. I can see the possibility of fixing one of those bits. Then I can look into expanding and extending that solution.
Here’s an example. I am a former biochemist and researcher and I know something about medical research. If I walked into a lab working on a cancer cure and asked the technicians there what kind of cancer they were looking at, they better not tell me all kinds. That would mean they don’t know what they’re doing and are just wasting time and money. Different kinds of cancer need different approaches. That doesn’t mean a cure for breast cancer might not have some future ramifications for curing colon cancer or a glioblastoma as well. It just means the research efforts will actually have a chance of success if the workers focus on a specific time instead of pulling up a shotgun and firing wildly. All cancers do matter, but in any given lab there should be only one focus.
It is good to be mindful of all injustice. Disabled lives matter too, which is why think the Florida police union needs to be slapped for thinking citizens would be fine about the four year police veteran intending to shoot an autistic gentleman (and then missing and shooting the black guy who then then handcuffed, apparently for his own protection or something).
It’s just that the term all lives matter does not convey concern for any life. It is too often used to say, “shut up black people and go back to your corner.” So I can’t use those words.