Why I Don’t Trust People Who Say #AllLivesMatter

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Hashtags are one of the best ways to get someone to pay attention to something you’re doing online. While I’m typing this #TheFlash is trending and people on twitter are talking about the new episode of The Flash. Hashtags are not only a way of getting people to talk about trending topics, but they’re also a way to get people to pay attention to certain issues and tie the conversations all together. #BlackLivesMatter is a hashtag that was created by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi  after George Zimmerman was acquitted after being charged with the death of Trayvon Martin in 2013. The hashtag was created to bring attention to police brutality and how it specifically targets black people. However, #BlackLivesMatter is more than just a hashtag, it’s a movement. Being somewhat of an activist myself, I know that people often downplay the importance of online activism. However, in the age of information, utilizing tools like hashtags is an effective way of getting your messages out there and spreading your activism world wide. #BlackLivesMatter demonstrations take place across the country and even across the pond. The environment created by this movement has given a space for black people to bring attention to the issues that they specifically face while also offering a space to mourn the loss of black life. There are some people, however, that do not like the popularity of the Black Lives Matter hashtag and have taken to creating their own: #AllLivesMatter.

Now, before I dive into my criticism of #AllLivesMatter, I wanted to tell you that I’ve had this conversation several times previously. In fact, I already wrote and filmed a video for Everyday Feminism about this topic. It’s a topic that’s exhausting to me because I have a very hard time understanding why people don’t see the problem with responding to “Black Lives Matter” with “All Lives Matter”. I can summarize my criticism by saying simply that, if you cared about all lives, then discussing the specific issues black people face wouldn’t bother you. Yes it’s true that people of all races and creeds face police brutality, but we don’t all experience it in the same exact way. Black people have high incarceration rates not because they commit the most crime in this country, but rather that people are already looking at them with suspicion while ignoring or turning a blind eye to white people who commit the same offenses. I’ll never forget dating a white drug dealer in college (long story, I didn’t know he was a drug dealer, not my bag) and he was able to be as successful as he was because he was a white man who looked like a nice, respectable guy that no one would ever even suspect of having anything vaguely to do with drugs. Yet I saw him deal hard drugs to other white students at my schools who also never were looked at with suspicion because they were also just assumed to be good kids. When you’re black you become very aware of the negative way in which society views you. You become so aware of it that many times, you’ll do whatever you can to dissociate from your blackness. You’ll say “i’m not like one of those black people, you know?” or you’re joke about how “white” you are. That’s because we live in a society where from a very young age, children become hyper aware of the fact that black people are viewed as dangerous and negative while white people are often given the benefit of the doubt. That’s why conversations like #BlackLivesMatter are so important because, well, how we’re perceived in society is very different. I’m always expected to be boldly different than “those” black people, while a white person has the benefit of being able to be seen as an individual.

Oh, I’m sure I know what you’re saying at this point: “But Kat, didn’t you just make a generalization about white people? Isn’t that the same exact thing you’re arguing against?”. Well, I don’t make generalizations about white people, really. I think, in large part because of the culture I’m raised in, I give white people the benefit of the doubt, but I am never surprised when a white person turns out to be racist. My partner is a white man who works with the public pretty often. We live in South Orange County, California in a city that is pretty unmistakably a bastion of whiteness. My boyfriend will often come home and tell me about the racist things that his clients will say to him off the cuff as a joke that, of course he’d be ok with since “they” aren’t around. When his coworkers found out that he was dating a black woman, one of them remarked that he didn’t seem like the type of man to have “jungle fever”. Dating a white man who is very much invested in anti-racism has revealed to me that, unfortunately, we really do still live in a time where racism exists, but it’s a lot more quiet and self contained. But if you asked your average person who screams #AllLivesMatter, you’ll very quickly hear that we simply make a larger issue out of racism than it really is.

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This is a post that I came across on instagram. It’s a very typical #alllivesmatter meme that I’ve seen posted over and over again. I’m always skeptical when I see posts like this because, again, there’s something about responding to “hey, black people face a specific type of police brutality” with “Actually, ALL people face police brutality! All lives matter…BLUE lives matter”. No one was suggesting that white people’s lives didn’t matter or that brown people’s lives didn’t matter or that yellow people’s or civilians or police lives didn’t matter. Yet this is what they hear. Instead of hearing “black lives matter too”, they hear “black lives matter over everyone’s”… and no one was saying that or even insinuating that. This is one of the big reasons I don’t trust people who say #alllivesmatter. It’s concern trolling. I wonder what they even know about how brown people are profiled, especially in a post 9/11 world. As an activist, I want to educate myself on the many different ways that people of color feel oppression. We may share commonality, but we are not the same and we are not up against the same types of forces. So I will always stand up for people who face police brutality regardless of their backgrounds because I do believe that all lives matter and I’m not threatened by people of specific groups making space for themselves to address issues they feel aren’t being addressed. These people don’t quite feel that way. #AllLivesMatter is a trump card that they pull out to silence these conversations and I’ll never really understand why they do that when they claim to “care for everyone”. Like i said, I don’t really trust people who utilize that hastag, so I thought i’d take a look at her other photos.

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…. Here we have the same exact user, who claims that All Lives Matter and that we should all care for each other’s lives posing with a man in blackface with the hashtag #blackface. Now one thing that I’ve noticed when I engage in these conversations with people is that they often feign ignorance. They often pretend that they have never seen racism in front of them so racism couldn’t possibly exist. We’re just making things up and drawing conclusions where there are none. But here we have a woman proudly posing with a man in blackface and even going as far as to joke about it after the fact and is self aware enough to hashtag it #blackface. If you don’t know what blackface is, I made a very through video about it last year. In short, Blackface is an artform that was extremely popular both in America and around the world where non-black (usually white) men painted themselves coal black to mock black people. Blackface established several harmful archetypes that are still used against the black community to this day. Someone dressing in blackface, wearing a wholly wig and making drug references is certainly an extension of that and this woman cosigns it while claiming that #AllLivesMatter.
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An absolutely beautiful mural by  Kalkidan Assefa was painted in Ottawa, Canada to commemorate the deaths of trans women of color; who are overwhelmingly the targets of trans misogynistic violence. You’ll see “All Black Lives Matter” is written on the side of the mural. #AllBlackLivesMatter is an extension of the initial #BlackLivesMatter campaign that seeks to include all black lives, not just the lives of cis black men who overwhelmingly end up being the focus of these conversations. This is what happened to the mural soon after it was completed.
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“You’ve Been Warned” were the words written beneath a large orange scrawl that said “All Lives Matter, No Double Standard”.

Think about this for a moment: An artist decides to create, what is essentially a memorial piece to respect the lives of trans women of color who were unjustly taken from this world and the response of some one was to deface what was an absolutely beautiful mural and say, instead “All Lives Matter”. This was an act that was done to threaten and terrorize the black community. The one of the vandalism has the unmistakable subtext of “know your place”.

What I am discovering, as a black woman who’s platform as a blogger is growing more and more is that when people of color carve out a space for themselves, it threatens many white people. Suddenly we aren’t having to turn to a white person and make sure that everything we’re saying doesn’t offend their sensibilities. We’re speaking for ourselves about the things that impact us. Things that are often ignored by the mainstream media. We no longer need to rely on them and get their cosign to do something or to speak up for ourselves. Some white people are threatened by that. They view our bold desire to make space for ourselves as a threat and they can only respond with violence and vitriol.  I will never understand that. It seems a bit weak-minded and weak willed especially from people who claim that #alllivesmatter.

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Recently, Scott Lattin defaced his own truck with #blacklivesmatter in order to collect insurance money. He also defaced the truck with several anti-police sentiments and he did it all to essentially frame black people for defacing his property and to further perpetuate the narrative that this is what the #BlackLivesMatter organizers want. To be fair, there have been incidents of vandalism by people who shouted that hashtag, but it’s very telling that when Mr. Lattin wanted to defraud his insurance company, that #BlackLivesMatter is who he targets, and of course this is someone who believes that #AllLivesMatter.

Of course everyone’s life holds value and we all face our own set of issues and at times they intersect. However, black people were only granted autonomy of their bodies, legally, 152 years ago. Even after that, the lingering impact of slavery exists to this day. We’re going to have to have a lot of hard, uncomfortable conversations about race until we can move forward as a society and if you want us to speak less about how black people are targeted for violence, you’ll be receptive to these conversations so that maybe one day we no longer feel the need to say that “Black Lives Matter” too.

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20 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Trust People Who Say #AllLivesMatter

  1. Lastly, I want to say, this was a very well written piece. Although my comments disagree in a sense that I feel BLM was started for an ignorant reason, and that a lot (not all, there are many vreat examples of the good this support has done) of its current supporters don’t seem to know what exactly it stands for…. I do agree with pretty much everything you have stated.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. It’s not that they are angry over the deaths. It’s that it happens to every race, just that the media is only fixating on one to cause an outrage.

      The person whose death is why the tag was created, had 0 to do with cops. That was a life or death situation that Zimmerman was in. I would have shot that guy as well.
      That had nothing to do with race, the media reported it with a twist to make it seem like it did.

      1. To add to it, if you read my 3 previous rants, I mentioned how in one night, a black child (real child, not teen) was shot in a drive by, meanwhile a grown man was killed in a shootout where he shot first and injured a cop… But BLM protested the criminal and not the innocent child.

        That is where the major flaw of BLM is revealed…

      2. Well, congrats on proving the point of the article. See, this is why you and your ilk cannot be trusted. You would have killed a kid armed with skittles. And you’re proud of that.

        “It happens to every race” – I’m sorry you don’t have access to Google. Must be rough, in whatever world you live in. If only there were clear stats to show that Black, trans, and Native people are uniquely targeted. If only the DOJ hadn’t found racial bias in every single precinct it chose to investigate.

      3. Haha, wow, this is where the ignorance is kicking in.

        The kid had skittles and a watermelon iced tea, two of the 3 ingredients used to make a man made, legal rage enhcaning drug. The same drug he had a video on his face book about, the same drug that was in his system.

        The kid was an MMA trained fighter, aka, in hand to hand combat could kill someone who is untrained.

        Guess what! He was shouting “I’m going to kill you”, “today is going to be the day you die” while using his training to smash in the guys face.

        So a trained fighter who is telling you he is about to kill you is on top of you, broke your nose, smashed your head into the ground, you’re bleeding from both sides of your face… He is raining down punches with no indication of slowing, you can’t get away from it……

        You let him beat you to death because you’re too PC that you think it’s okay because he is black???

        How ignorant are you?

        Yes, I would shoot that asshole, not just once, if it meant between me and him, and he is trying to take my life? Yeah… If Zimmerman wasn’t armed that night, that kid would have killed him and been in jail right now since he had every chance to not kill him.

        I’m sure you’re one of those people who think he was innocent, just walking home? Police say there were 40 unaccounted from how long it takes to leave that store to get to where he was.
        The kid was waiting, the kid was on drugs, the kid talked online of how he wants to kill people, the kid had stolen property in his locker….

        And while you’re talking about how people are targeted, you leave out the stats I gave you about how whites are killed just as much as all other races combined.. So yeah. Google that. Convo over, you lost.

  2. I’m a 43WM with an intelligent and open minded daughter in college so I have started hearing about how I am viewed as the devil incarnate to the entire world. But beyond her humour; through her I am also starting to hear more and learn more than what comes my way in my admittedly comfortable life. I was firmly in the ALM camp not because of latent racism but because I sincerely believed that an all-inclusive approach is better than singling out one group. To the ignorant, that’s what BLM appeared to do.

    My daughter spent a lot of time thinking and writing about the BLM movement (she’s even publishing her paper) and has educated me on the subject. I understood the movement and the meaning, the hardest element of this issue was the language. Once you single out a group, you remove the equality through anonymity. “BLM is focusing on black lives? Well, what about X, Y or Z? Aren’t we/they just as important?” And so we get the ALM or BLM retaliation.

    There are racists waving the ALM flag to be sure, but I have to believe most people are like I once was, just ignorant of the deeper meaning. Yes, we ALL believe that people of all colours matter, but white lives are doing just fine, cops lives are being watched out for. And the world is turning a blind eye on the measurable and quantifiable numbers of black lives that are being lost due to prejudice and abuses of power.

    In my discussions with my daughter, I proffered that if the movement had adopted the title, “Black Lives Matter Too!” there wouldn’t have been as much backlash. That small addition of three letters brings that equality back, brings back the inclusion. When I saw “too” included in your post, I felt that maybe there was a nugget of truth to it. Though we shouldn’t have to include it, we shouldn’t have to explain it, the world might have understood and accepted BLMT faster than BLM.

    Thank you for speaking up, speaking out. Your post will open eyes. We need voices like this to be lifted up and heard.

    I once believed I had no pony in this race, that my opinion as a fat middle-aged middle-class white man had no weight in issues like this, but I was wrong. I’m not a member of the oppressed nor am I an oppressor, but my ignorance was washed away and I have tried to help explain the issues to those I encounter who suffer from the same ignorance I once did. I can’t do much, but one by one, all of us regardless of colour, age or sex, we can help make this a better world for all of us until all lives truly do matter equally.

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