The simple version: All lives do matter, but one type of life has a much, much harder time living than the other.
The longer version: Imagine that you are at a restaurant and you want to order food, you have been waiting for over two hours, while people that have arrived fifteen minutes ago already have their food. You call the waiter and ask about the situation: “ I’m sorry waiter, but I haven’t gotten my food and I’ve been here longer than anyone else, is there any way I can also get my food?” To which the waiter replies: “Wow Sir, everyone should get their food, not just you. Everyone’s food matters!” That sounds stupid right? Yep, that is how people that shout “All Lives Matter” seem to me. It is not a matter of someone’s life being worth more than any other, it is about how some lives are not valued, by others, and the system, as equally as other lives, in this case black lives and Latino lives, and Asian lives, and queer lives, and Muslim lives, et others, in comparison to white lives.
This movement began in 2012, after the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, of which Zimmerman was later acquitted, and has gained prominence as white males and cops continue to murder black men and women, and children as young as twelve, without any evidence of weapons or their lives being in danger. The anger is not as much from the act they committed, as to the fact that barely any of the culprits get punishment, in fact, some do not even get charged. It is as if your friend was killed by someone with no apparent reason, except the difference in skin, culture, religion or ethnic background, and once you go to the cops and the court system, they say that because the person suspected your friend of carrying a gun or being a danger, there is no reason to imprison them, they obviously only acted as a matter of self-defense, and we cannot punish anyone for that, they were only thinking of the betterment of the community by getting rid of one more thug. You would be very upset at the injustice too.
BlackLivesMatter carries a burden, centuries of systematic oppression, mass incarceration, and slavery in America. When we impose it, we understand its effects on people and the system, when we deny it and advert its importance by claiming AllLivesMatter, it is if we ignore the issue in favour of our imagined perfect world that needs little change. That is not the world a majority of the world population is living in.
In a more general sense, all lives do matter, but in this place and time, it is not as relevant as the groups that have a harder time living. Some people have a hared time living than you and I, and taking away from their experience, dehumanizes them in the eyes of others. We should never allow for such a thing.
Some slam poems that will give some insight:
- Javon Johnson – “The Shotgun”
- Alex Copeland & Jensen McRae – “Trumpets”
- Neiel Israel – “When a Black Man Walks”
- Anthony Ragler – “Target”
- Bianca Phipps – “Open Letter to the Mother of Michael Dunn”
- Crystal Valentine – “Black Privilege”
- Raven McGill – “Meanwhile, in Post-Racist America”
- Anthony McPherson – “All Lives Matter: 1800s Edition”