The Smokescreen Called "All Lives Matter"
BY: MELODY OPENE
I’m an angry black woman. You’re probably thinking, what’s new, right? Either that or you’re already watching this paper be engulfed in the flames of your disinterest and ire. If you decided to stick around, I’ll explain why. As a child, I thought everyone was on a level playing field and had the same opportunities. I was wrong. This I realized the day George Zimmerman was ruled innocent after gunning down Trayvon Martin. And so a new trend began, as if the grim reaper himself was looming over the black community. People of color, of all ages, being shot dead in their cars, at parks, in the middle of streets. Yes, I am angry, and it has everything to do with the color of my skin.
Deborah Danner. Philando Castile. Terence Crutcher. Alton Sterling. Their deaths are only four in about 200 just this year. Largely disappointing rhetoric has surfaced that has shown me that people aren’t seeing this from the same lens that I am. I’m seeing blood spilled in the streets, children trading the lives of their mothers and fathers with hate for law enforcement.
Instead of the focus being on this—the fact that lives are being robbed from communities of color—I see people choosing to deflect and deter real conversation by saying all lives matter. On that argument, I’d like to say yes. Absolutely. I agree.
My problem with “all lives matter” is that it is a smokescreen used to avoid real and raw conversation. We say “black lives matter” and people attempt to deter by saying “all lives matter.” It purposefully avoids the main point that people are trying to make—all lives have historically not mattered, and people are dying. The stench from the subjugation of an entire race of people does not air out quickly. It can’t be hidden under the bloody rug of American history. Using the color of one’s skin as a determinant of status still runs deep in the roots of American culture.
Shouldn’t we be astounded, saddened, enraged that yet another person is dead? Suddenly, a pregnant, heavy silence settles over the masses. It falls from the sky like a fog of ignorance, allowing eyes and ears to be defective to what is going on around them, only activated when they hear “black lives matter.” Opening to parrot this ridiculous “all lives matter” drivel.
We say black lives matter, so you say all lives matter? Like that somehow negates what is happening in our community. This tells me something important—there is no substance to the “All Lives” sayings. The closer you get to it, the more you realize it is the exact antithesis of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement—only used as an echo to distract from discussing the real problem. When you attempt to put the brakes on BLM, when you utter such a placatory little phrase, but then do nothing to show, prove, that all lives matter, you are undermining your own words. If you truly believe that all lives matter, then we should all be in agreement. And, yet, somehow, there is still contention.
So, yes, I'm fuming. Droves of black lives have been stolen. Human beings with family and friends, hopes and dreams. All the potential they would ever have leaking out of their bodies onto the pavement. It is a tragic waste.
There are injustices going on in this country. There is something wrong with a system that consistently abuses its power by abusing people of color. This is yet another wave of the Civil Rights Movement. This will be written about in American history books. In 40 years, when this is written about as the past, I hope you can say you were not an obstacle but an aid. Let’s not allow this time, this opportunity, to shed light on injustice and to root out the deep infection occurring in America’s veins to go to waste. I’m tired of being angry. I’m ready for America to do better. I think we owe it to those who have lost their lives.