By Summer Bowman, Opinion
We’ve all seen it.
Scrolling through social media, seeing stories of violence against black Americans at the hands of the police only to see these three words below:
“ALL LIVES MATTER”.
Conservatives, often white and often over 40, have responded to the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement with the phrase to voice opposition of the movement’s ideals without considering their stance’s negative effect towards the common goal of equality.
And it’s sensibilities provide a pre-packaged retort, served up by right-wing politicians who for years have accused the original organizers of Black Lives Matter of violence and “reverse racism”.
Then, everything changed.
In a country where even a public health crisis became partisan, George Floyd’s death resonated loudly across the nation.
No one could deny the injustice of his life being taken at the hands of the state.
Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck to the point of asphyxiation after Floyd’s alleged use of a counterfeit bill.
Chauvin has now been arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
Floyd’s murder set off protests in almost every major American city and hundreds of others have followed worldwide.
“Please, I can’t breathe. My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts. They’re going to kill me,” Floyd said as his death was caught on video, now seen by millions.
He was laid to rest this week in a Houston cemetary next to his mother, who he can be heard calling out to in the final moments before his death.
Under the tag “Black Lives Matter” on Twitter and Instagram, users will find even more names of Black Americans like Ahmad Aubrey, Nina Pop and Breonna Taylor, all victims of police brutality.
And even more visual aids showing our system’s imbalance in the treatment of African Americans compared to other races.
Here is one example, showing the disparity between races and their incarceration rates. According to the United States Census, African Americans make up only 13.4% of the population but a far greater percentage of inmates.
Many use statistics like these to speak out against America’s epidemic of overpolicing.
Those holding contrary beliefs to the movement’s practices and ideas have been parroting the “All Lives Matter” phrase disingenuously for years.
While it is true that anyone could face difficulties when interacting with police, there is overwhelming proving that African Americans are far more likely to experience this.
And that’s why their inclusive sentiment is anything but.
The ALL in All Lives Matter seeks to exclude those most in danger: Black lives.
I believe our police system should be reformed, but every day we see more and more how it is not that simple.
It will take White Americans speaking out to affect change and deliver real justice reform.
Diminishing the Black Lives Matter movement’s message with a message of faux emphasis on how all humans are equal rings hollow, and more importantly, does not benefit the common goal to reform.
The phrase “All Lives Matter” is seemingly innocent, but its connotation and effects are negative and only cause division. But the people who say it know that.
It’s only human nature to throw out something that achieves two goals: making you seem as if want empathy and equality for all, but in reality seeks to preserve your comfortable place in the machine that benefits white lives at the expense of Black ones.
“All lives matter” can only be truthful after the lives of African Americans matter the same as anyone else’s under our justice system.