Why it's Hurtful to Say: "All Lives Matters"
A beloved friend of ElderPride posted a meme on Facebook, in support of Black Lives Matter. he was demonstrating his willingness to be a valued ally. Regretfully, he received a lot of hostel push back for his stance. He was bombard with hateful and hurtful messages all ending with the words: "All Lives Matter." Many of his critics were from the LGBTQ+ community, which further disappointed him. He reached out to me to ask: "What did I do worong?" Here's my response.
Thank you, my friend for creating the opportunity to discuss this very important issue.
You’ve provoked a great conversation. So, here’s the deal. They good news is, we are talking. The opportunity is to seek a better understanding of what each of us is talking about, and why we believe – what we believe. For those of you that take offense at the term “black lives matter”, I ask that you consider this:
Yes. all lives matter. But have you asked your black friends why saying “all lives matter” as a response to “black lives matter” might be hurtful?
When I say friends, I am not speaking of acquaintances at work, or that nice black couple you know from church. I am talking about your friends. The friends you vacation with, the friends you share your victories and disappointments with. That black friend you would name as the God parent of your child. In other words: The black friend that you love.
Black lives matter. And, as for me in my house, it’s the God’s truth. Agree or disagree, just don’t miss the point of why it’s being said. In its simplest definition, to matter means to be of importance, significance, and consequence. And for many of our black friends, saying “Black Lives Matter” is a plea to “see me, hear me and have empathy for how I must move about the world – in a way that you don’t have to - EVER! It’s a way of declaring that we understand that black lives are important, their issues are important, and neither as individuals, nor the issues that impact the black community, will be overshadowed, marginalized, or treated as nonsense.
If you love someone black, you know that saying “Black Lives Matter” is neither separatist nor racist. It is not anti-white, and, contrary to what some in the media may say,
And, most of all it is not anti-police. It does not denote, promote, or support hatred of or violence against any ethnic group. The intention behind the Black Lives Matter movement, founded by two members of our LGBTQ community, is not to promote or support hatred or violence against any group. It is about promoting the love of self and African-American rights to equal justice and fairness. That’s it nothing more. How others perceive it or manipulate it is another story.
If you are someone in my life; my circle of friends, or my spiritual community, you are all about creating a world that works for everyone. To be in my life you have to believe and affirm that saying Black Lives Matter, is how we lift up the lives of Black people we love in our personal lives, in America and in the global diaspora. It is not meant to de-value the lives of anyone else. Period. Got it? Good.
However, I want to get back to something I said earlier. Ask someone you love, who is black, how they feel when they hear you say, “all lives matter.” Take a moment, which of your black friends will you ask? Oh, I see, perhaps that is the real issue. You don’t have anyone to talk to, do you?
The conservative agenda is to divide and separate. And, it’s working. Yes, there are looters, and people burning buildings. It’s the same rage as when we burnt police cars and broke the glass doors to City Hall the night the Dan White verdict came down. Rage is a desperate plea to “understand my pain!”
As a minister, I must call out discrimination when I see it. I must call upon people to do better once they know better. It’s time to make this right. It’s time to atone for the sins of our ancestors. It’s time for us to be our best selves and to “do onto others as we whould have them do unto us. - RJ