I believe that many white people, particularly white Christians, have good intent in saying “All Lives Matter” – after all, the argument goes, black people are human and are not the only oppressed people in the world. So “all lives” obviously covers theirs as well.
But All Lives is not the work of kinship. It is not acknowledging shared humanity in an honest way.
The US Constitution and Declaration of Independence are documents steeped in “all”-inclusive language, but they made provisions wherein black people are property of white slave-holders and Natives are pawned “savages” to be exterminated.
This is a world where Black people are treated
- and economically
in private and public
in public schools and private homes
– and by the very state that purports to serve and protect them –
+ as less-than people,
+ as threats,
+ and as property.
The declaration that their lives do matter (and by extension, so do Native lives), that they too are human, and thus have volition and power and intelligence should never be trivialized nor violated.
To write on top of Black Lives Matter is to say that the phrase needs fixing, is to trivialize the work of activists and resisters. For white and other non-black people to (continually) do so is to say that the struggle of black people for their own survival is not good enough so we White people have fixed it for them.
This is not solidarity. This is not loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. It is harmful.
Note: This was originally a part of this response to the Gungor song, but I felt it didn’t belong there as Michael and Lisa were deliberate in not making their song say “All lives matter.” I decided to post this upon seeing the very great Austin Channing Brown having to explain why White Christians should not with the hashtag #WeExpectMore.