When I hear someone challenge the message and value of #BlackLivesMatter by saying that all lives matter, I can’t help but question that person’s personal experience with race and their familiarity with the experience of people of color.
To me, this seems a position, at best, born of misunderstanding, packaged as compassion. An unintended expression of privilege they’re not even aware exists.
To say that black lives matter is not to say they matter more than other lives. Rather it’s a way to bring awareness to a specific problem that has plagued this country since its start and continues to do so today and with the same vigor.
To challenge BlackLivesMatter with all lives matter, as Sam Harris has pointed out, is not so dissimilar to showing up at a cancer event and protesting that all diseases matter. That we can’t raise awareness and funds just for cancer research because people are dying from AIDS too.
Further, BlackLivesMatter is not intended to divide, as I see so many emphatically proclaiming. But it’s also not crafted with concern for white sensitivities. And it shouldn’t be. These sensitivities have impaired dialogue for long enough.
For white people who truly welcome equality and justice, it’s time to resist the impulse to speak out and, instead, use that energy to look within.
Before we can make a meaningful contribution to this conversation, we must recognize, understand, accept the impact our millennia of social advantage and cultural domination has had on our opinions of race and equality.
Until this work has been done, our voices do little more than add to the already deafening discord threatening progress.