This write-up is in response to A post on the Huff Post called “The Real Reason White People Say ‘All Lives Matter’”. There are so many things wrong with it, the only way I could address them all is point-by-point.
Let me start out by saying this article makes a lot (and I do mean a lot) of collectivist statements. That makes sense that a person that would promote a statement such as “Black Lives Matter” would be a collectivist. In fact, if I had to summarize what’s wrong with this article (and the Black/Blue Lives Matter movements) succinctly, that would be the word I’d use: collectivism. The article starts:
Dear fellow white people, let’s have an honest talk about why we say “All Lives Matter.” First of all, notice that no one was saying “All Lives Matter” before people started saying “Black Lives Matter.” So “All Lives Matter” is a response to “Black Lives Matter.” Apparently, something about the statement “Black Lives Matter” makes us uncomfortable. Why is that?
Now some white people might say that singling out Black people’s lives as mattering somehow means that white lives don’t matter. Of course, that’s silly. If you went to a Breast Cancer Awareness event, you wouldn’t think that they were saying that other types of cancer don’t matter. And you’d be shocked if someone showed up with a sign saying “Colon Cancer Matters” or chanting “All Cancer Patients Matter.” So clearly, something else is prompting people to say “All Lives Matter” in response to “Black Lives Matter.”
Many of the people saying “All Lives Matter” also are fond of saying “Blue Lives Matter.” If you find that the statement “Black Lives Matter” bothers you, but not “Blue Lives Matter,” then the operative word is “Black”. That should tell us something. There’s something deeply discomfiting about the word “Black.” I think it’s because it reminds us of our whiteness and challenges our notion that race doesn’t matter.
Yep, when I say it, it is a response. It is a response to a collectivist statement that attempts to segregate and collectivize a certain group of the population. I thought one of the goals of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s was to end segregation. Well, it failed. Because here we are 50 years later with certain “civil rights authors” (I could write a whole article on this point of my rant alone, the misappropriation of the term “civil rights” by the BLM and other similar movements past and present) continuing the ideas of segregation. I just have to shake my head. So should segregation be abolished? If so, why are certain people (like the author in the article above) trying to keep it alive? I recently read the University of San Fransico is starting up a “Afro-themed” dorm area. That’s just another demonstration that segregation is alive and well, that saddens me.
If the saying “Blue Lives Matter” came out before “Black Lives Matter”, I’d still say “All Lives Matter”, in response to “Blue Lives Matter”. For the record, I do not go about spewing “Blue Lives Matter” — so I guess I am excluded from the “many” spoken of here. Collectivist attempts at segregation are just that, regardless of if they are trying to segregate “black” or “blue”.
If you’re like me, growing up, the word “Black” was always spoken of in whispers in your family. It was like we were saying something taboo. Why was that? Because it was taboo. We might feel more comfortable saying “African-American,” but not “Black.” The reason is that we were raised to believe that “colorblindness” was the ideal for whites. We were taught that we shouldn’t “see color.” And saying the word “Black” was an acknowledgment of the fact that we did “see color.”
The problem with being “colorblind” — aside from the fact that we’re not really — is that it is really a white privilege to be able to ignore race. White people like me have the luxury of not paying attention to race — white or black. The reason is because whiteness is treated as the default in our society. Whiteness is not a problem for white people, because it blends into the cultural background.
Black people, on the other hand, don’t have the luxury of being “colorblind.” They live in a culture which constantly reminds them of their Black-ness, which tells them in a million large and small ways that they are not as important as white people, that their lives actually do not matter as much as white lives. Which is why saying “Black Lives Matter” is so important.
This article would try to convince me it is wrong to look at people as individuals and that I should embrace collectivism. I do use the word “Black” to describe someone usually when I am trying to identify them to someone else. I did grow up being taught saying “black” was bad, that “African-American” was the PC term. These days, I do not know what the PC term is to describe the melanin level of a darker person. Frankly, I don’t care what is the PC term. If I am in a room with 50 white people and there are 2 black people, one with hair and one that is bald, I may say to a friend that I am conversing with “Jon is that bald black fellow over there.” Similarly, if I was trying to point my partner out to someone in a room full of people, I’d likely say “Yes, she’s that girl with the green hair over there.” I don’t make statements like “<Insert a candidate’s name here> is attempting to court the green hair vote.” In fact, I’ve never heard anyone say that — it’s ridiculous! Yet, I do hear people say “<Insert a candidate’s name here> is attempting to court the black.” In my opinion, such a statement is equally ridiculous.
What “culture” constantly reminds them of their “blackness”? The BLM culture? The so-called “civil rights movement” culture? Those are not groups that I would ever care to associate with. It’d be great if the author was more specific about “culture” here — the United States is a geographical area with many cultures.
And about “white privilege”, — this seems a good spot to insert a portion of another unpublished article I wrote up:
Let me talk a little bit about white privilege. Does it exist? I will concede white privilege exists if you, the reader, will concede black privilege also exists. We can argue all day over the degree each exists and how that impacts most people. What privilege is there to being black? Well….:
- Legally enforce Affirmative Action preferences/quotas for:
- College Entry
- There are certain areas of Detroit (and other cities) a black person can walk down the road and go relatively unmolested whereas a non-black would be confronted and possibly face violence. I think this phenomenon is called having a “pass”.
When one speaks of “white privilege” what they may really mean is “non-black privilege”. I work with and know many successful people that are Asian. Not one of them has ever told me they feel discriminated against because they aren’t caucasian. I never hear of Asians being wrongfully detained and harassed by police either. Does it happen? I’m sure it does, just like it does to all of us. It seems the media picks up on police brutality against certain racial backgrounds more than others though. Maybe Devin Guilford forgot his “white privilege” card at home the night he was harassed, tazed, and killed for the dastardly crime of telling an officer he may have had his bright lights on while driving. Granted, the way Devin handled the stop wasn’t exactly…prudent? I’ve seen much similar less than prudent actions in stops that have tragically resulted in someone’s death — you know, the ones the national media talk about. Haven’t heard about Devin? That’s ok, neither had I until just last week. Where was the national news attention for Devin? Maybe there was little coverage because there was no accompanying violence or massive protests in the streets of Grand Ledge after he was killed? Why wasn’t there more awareness of Devin’s death? Why wasn’t there more outrage — locally and nationally?
Those advancing the notion of “white privilege” seemingly have the goal of making me feel guilty for an accident of my birth because of things that happened over 150 years ago. I didn’t enslave any black people (currently alive or dead). To the best of my knowledge, neither did any of my ancestors. They were all in Europe until the late 1800’s/early 1900’s. They didn’t come to the United States until after slavery was abolished. If and to the extent white privilege exists, I:
- Didn’t cause it.
- Didn’t make a choice to be caucasian.
I can only control me and my thoughts and beliefs. For my part, I try to avoid “grouping”/collectivising people. I strive to be “color blind” — that was the “Dream” Dr. Martin Luther had. The “Black Lives Matter” movement throws away the idea/goal of being color blind.
As someone else that I read wrote recently said: it seems that BLM and the people who promote the idea of “white privilege” would make me out to be the enemy. It would seem they feel I “owe” black people something because of an admittedly shitty past some of their ancestors had at the hands of some caucasian people. My ancestors didn’t make these trespasses. Even if they did, I do not own any of my grandfather’s debts. I’m not the enemy.
It seem this is “you’re either with us or against us?” If that is the case, why does it have to be that way — so divisive? So — “black and white”? (please excuse the unintended pun)
“All Lives Matter” is a problem because it refocuses the issue away from systemic racism and Black lives. It distracts and diminishes the message that Black lives matter or that they should matter more than they do. “All Lives Matter” is really code for “White Lives Matter,” because when white people think about “all lives,” we automatically think about “all white lives.”
We need to say “Black Lives Matter,” because we’re not living it. No one is questioning whether white lives matter or whether police lives matter. But the question of whether Black lives really matter is an open question in this country. Our institutions act like Black lives do not matter. The police act like Black lives do not matter when they shoot unarmed Black people with their arms in the air and when Blacks are shot at two and a half times the rate of whites, even when whites are armed. The judicial system acts like Black lives don’t matter when Blacks are given more severe sentences than whites who commit the same crimes and are turned into chattel in a for-profit prison-industrial complex.
And white people act like Black lives do not matter when we fail to raise the appropriate level of outrage at unjustified killings of Blacks or when we respond with platitudes like “All Lives Matter.”
But we still say it. We say it because “All Lives Matter” lets us get back to feeling comfortable. “Black Lives Matter” makes us uncomfortable. Why? Because it reminds us that race exists. It reminds us that our experience as white people is very different from the experience of Black people in this country. It reminds us that racism is alive and well in the United States of America.
Who exactly is this “we” the author speaks of? “We” yet another collectivist term. The author may be attempting to speak of “white people” when he says “we”. This would be yet another attempt to group/collectivize people by the author. His collectivist world view is really tiring. Maybe he was speaking of only himself and using the “royal we” — the world may never know.
Regarding the government, law enforcement, and the court system being racist — I do acknowledge that. Many of today’s still existing gun control laws trace their roots to anti-black racism. Carrying a concealed weapon was made illegal and gun boards just happened to grant permits to carry concealed to disproportionately white people. Modern cannabis laws started with racism with California laws that attempted to rid the state of the “undesired” Mexican population. So yes, racism does exist in our system and laws. Let’s fix it by: 1) repealing drug laws/ending the drug war 2) repealing gun control laws.
Regarding who goes to prison, it tends to be poor people who cannot afford the means to adequately defend themselves in court. Plenty of poor, white people end up in prison. Black people, for whatever reason, may be disproportionately poor.
There is bias against many segments of the population — many of them poor. I know a man who is white and poor. He also smokes cannabis. Often times when he is out and about he is profiled and stopped by cops while driving — probably because he matches the profile of a poor, white stoner. Police profiling (not racism) is the problem — against all sorts of people, mostly poor.
Now, I just said the “R” word, so you’re probably feeling defensive at this point. You’re instinctively thinking to yourself that you are not a racist. You may be thinking that you have Black friends or that you don’t use the N-word or that you would never consciously discriminate against a Black person. But most racism today is more subtle than that. Sure, there is a lot of overt racism that still goes on. The KKK is still active and some white people do still say the N-word. But overt racism is really culturally unacceptable any more among whites today. The racism that we need to face today is much more insidious than white hoods and racial slurs. It is the racism of well-meaning people who are not consciously or intentionally racist.
The racism that we need to face is the racism of average white middle-class Americans who would never think of saying the N-word and would vociferously condemn the KKK, but nevertheless unwittingly participate in institutionalized racism. We most often participate in racism by omission, rather than commission. We participate in racism when we fail to see it where it exists. We participate in racism when we continue to act like race is a problem that only Black people have. We participate in racism when we seek comfortable responses like “All Lives Matter.”
Wai-wait….wha-what? WHAT?!?! The “problem” (not conceding there is a problem) that exists today is worse than the KKK lynching of the 1960’s? That statement alone should be insulting to any intelligent person (black, white, or otherwise). I just have to shake my head.
Please, let’s stop the divisive, collectivist segregation tactics that are being employed by the author. Let’s unite against common enemies of everyone’s civil rights and freedoms: gun control laws, prohibition laws, taxes, and regulations. While facing a similar (arguably lesser) tyranny, Benjamin Franklin said: We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.
In conclusion, All Lives Matter! None more and none less than another simply based upon career choice (ex: cops), gender identity, sex, sexual preference, or race.