#BlackLivesMatter vs. #AllLivesMatter

This question seems to come up from time to time on this and other forums. Rather than addressing each question about the subject, I thought I would write down my thoughts. I apologize if I’m merely repeating what has been argued elsewhere.

The objection to the #BlackLivesMatter movement is generally “don’t all lives matter?” The answer to that is clearly no. What they mean is that “all lives should matter” but that’s not the same thing. To borrow from Orwell, “all lives matter but some lives matter more than others”. Unarmed Black people who are not endangering anyone are shot or attacked by police on a daily basis now. How many unarmed White people can you name who were shot by police? Armed White people who threaten others are almost always subdued without gunfire and often just ignored. In this instance Black lives don’t matter to the same extent as White lives.

One can argue that these police killings and attacks are done by a very small percentage of officers. Most are not like that. While this is true, the fact that those killers are almost never imprisoned or even fired shows that police forces, the justice system and the community value Black lives less. Many of those cops who kill unarmed Blacks have done so before and still they are not punished for it. This far reaching trend shows that on most levels Black lives just don’t matter that much. To put it in perspective, imagine that instead of each Black victim it was the town prom queen who was shot 15 times for no good reason. Can you honestly say that the community and national response to the event would be exactly the same?

#BlackLivesMatter vs. #AllLivesMatter

This trend is not limited to killings. Innocent Blacks are many times more likely to be pulled over and searched without reason, especially in the South. This happens despite the fact that when Whites are pulled over in those same areas, they are more likely to have drugs. Many times as many Whites than Blacks are arrested, yet the incarceration rate for the two races is about equal. White kids found with drugs are far less likely to go to prison than Black kids with drugs. The list of stark disparities by race goes on and on, and yet few seem to be very concerned about such injustices.

At least one commentator pointed out that while Black lives do not matter, Black deaths do. White people were horrified when the nine Black church members were gunned down in South Carolina. This commentator pointed out the horror increased notably when it came out that the victims had asked the shooter to pray with them before he took out his weapons and again when the families of the dead forgave the killer. In a sense, these victims became honorary White people after their deaths. To qualify they had to be much better than most White people. Even then, many commentators claimed that this clear case of racial terrorism was instead an “attack on religion”.

One of the objections to the #BlackLivesMatter movement is that their members are disruptive and disrespectful. This is highly ironic since the complaint often comes from people who identify with the Tea Party or similar such groups and ideologies. Those groups are famously disruptive and disrespectful. But that doesn’t count because they are White. The sad fact is that most of the unarmed Black kids who are shot by police are primarily guilty of arguing with them or showing disrespect to them. When these facts are exposed, a large segment of society justifies the killings, arguing that the kids died because they failed to respect authority. Ironically, those same defenders have horrible reputations when it comes to respecting authority, most notably towards their highest authority, President Obama. Their message is clear: they deserved death because as Blacks they did not show sufficient respect for White authority.

#BlackLivesMatter vs. #AllLivesMatter

It’s my opinion that the situation has gotten so bad because an entire generation of Black kids were raised in a less openly racist society (before Obama’s election) and they can’t bring themselves to act completely submissive towards White authority. They can’t quite believe that disrespect is still punishable by death.

We Whites have no business claiming that all lives matter until it begins to be largely true. There will always be racists who are willing to kill for their racism. But until society punishes everyone equally regardless of the race of the victim or the race of the offender, not all lives matter to the same extent in America.

#BlackLivesMatter vs. #AllLivesMatter
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Most Helpful Girl

  • I do believe black lives matter and understand its underlying message. I also believe all lives do matter. Unfortunately the vast majority of black lives being cut short come from a sense of I don't have to listen to authority. Your not going to respect me, so I'm not going to respect you, which in a sense becomes the bite off your nose to spite your face mentality. that or the hope for martyrdom. Yes, there are people who have no business being enforcers of the law and that is a big part of the problem. For the most part a large percentage of the senseless shootings can be averted by following some sage advice delivered here in a comedic setting.

    Is this still revelant?
    • talloak

      If I were a Black parent I would teach my kids to respect police simply as a matter of life and death in an unjust society. However, even those measures are not enough. So many Blacks have been attacked by police while doing absolutely nothings, such as sitting on a park bench, hailing a taxi or sunning themselves by a pool. The victims of racist police attacks do not have control over the situation. It's much like asking girls not to dress provocatively to avoid being raped. It may be a factor but it is not the cause.

      It disgusts me that 150 years after the end of slavery and 50 years after the Civil Rights movement the same problems continue unresolved. Deep into the 21st century I would be thrilled if Americans could drag themselves into the 20th century!

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What Girls & Guys Said

  • SweetHomicidalQueen
  • CheerGirl38139
    Good points. I believe all lives matter but your position has merit.

    My personal dilemma has been in trying to reconcile our need and appreciation for law enforcement with public accountability.

    Did you see the white officer that chased down and shot a white drunk driver as he was climbing through the window of his overturned SUV? The guy made a terrible choice to drive drunk and run from police. He killed his own wife in the crash. But the cop shot him trying to climb pit of the car and then radioed that he had a subject refusing to exit the vehicle. White cop, white victim/suspect.

    Thank God for dash cams.

    My question is what are we going to do about this problem in general? My home town PD has had to lower their hiring standards so far down its scary they're hiring known gang members. Because it's a dangerous job that doesn't usually pay enough. So we have sketchy people that were probably too young and under qualified enforcing laws and carrying guns.

    But how do we fix it? We NEED law enforcement. Could it be more of a funding issue than a cultural one? I'm not sure...
    • talloak

      Many excellent questions and I don't have the answers. I believe that one of the big problems is the informal but very strong code among the police not to expose each other no matter what they do. Another problem is the community taking much the same attitude: in all situations the cops are always right. Another issue is that many communities have laws that allow cops to shoot if they feel endangered without requiring actual evidence of endangerment. If a cop shoots a Black kid six times in the back while he's fifty feet away, he need only claim that he was endangered and he's exonerated. These laws need to change to allow the possibility of accountability. Cops with anger or racial problems should be working desk jobs. And yes, cops should be making a lot more money with better security. I hate to see so many cities go after police health plans and pensions to pay for expensive sports facilities and such.

  • angelling
    Great take, glad someone's explained it. Tbh, I'd have less of an issue with the #AllLivesMatter tag if they were actually doing something other than simply trying to drag down the #BlackLivesMatter tag. But since they tag was started for the purpose of invalidating the #BlackLivesMatter tag, I can never take it seriously.
    • Good point. I hadn't thought of it that way.

    • talloak

      I would never join the movement as I have a problem with many of their tactics. But I'm very thankful that this and other groups are struggling to change some of the laws and fix the problem.

  • Anonymous
    Furry lives matter. Everyone else can go take a dump.