irst, let me put a little disclaimer: I’m a Caucasian, heterosexual cisgender male–so in a lot of ways incredibly privileged by our social structures. I like to think that as a person with disabilities, and a former Wiccan, I’ve got at least some idea of what it is to be a minority–but all that really means is that I know I can’t understand another minority group, all I can do is empathize with the feelings of isolation, rage, pain in general. Still, I think this needs to be said, so I’m going to do my best to express my feelings.
I’m seeing a lot of posts about All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter–a seeming push-back against Black Lives Matter. And those posts are making me angry because they show a fundamental lack of understanding about the problem at hand, and the Black Lives Matter movement in general. Let me be clear: Black Lives Matter is NOT saying other lives don’t matter, nor is it saying that police lives don’t matter. Black Lives Matter IS saying a lot of other things, and I won’t go into all of them here because frankly, I’m not the best one to say what the movement stands for. But what am going to try to do is explain why we all need to stop saying All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter.
We need to stop saying Blue Lives Matter because police have enormous advantages under the law. As the ones who enforce the law, they are representative of the very structures Black Lives Matter fight against. Yes, the police are very self-sacrificing, yes, they deal with a lot of shit, and yes, a lot of people are rude or abusing to them, and yes, sometimes they die–but the social structure is largely designed to support the police. If you’re a police officer, you can expect the legal system to be pretty fair to you. If you’re not Caucasian, you can’t.
There is also no denying that police training needs to be overhauled so that the numerous incidents we’ve seen in the USA and yes, even in Canada, can be minimized. Sure, maybe the media blows it a bit out of proportion but people are dying at the hands of people who have sworn to protect them. That’s a sign of injustice, and a sign of something deeply wrong. I don’t know what overhauling the training system and accountability structure looks like–I do know that it needs to be done before things reach a crisis point.
We need to stop saying All Lives Matter because while it is true, it’s a fallacy. It’s the type of response all minority groups are used to hearing by people in power. It is a way of brushing off a problem, or hiding it under a rug, essentially saying to the people working for change that their situation is no different from any other groups. It’s deflection, misdirection, deception–and therefore, we must be doubly aware of it. Saying All Lives Matter is a trick, a way to alleviate our social conscience, and not really deal with the problem. It’s analogous to giving money to a group that does development work in the Third World without looking into the methods. Yes, it’s true that your giving money on principle (the equivalent of All Lives Matter) but you’re only doing it to alleviate your social conscience if you don’t also check into where the money goes, how it’s spent, and keep the organization accountable (the equivalent of Black Lives Matter). *Note: Not a perfect analogy, but the rough idea is there.
So please, people, stop saying Blue Lives Matter and stop saying All Lives Matter. Both are TRUE statements, but they are NOT helpful statements. Indeed, I argue that they are HARMFUL statements. For in saying Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter we are telling our black brothers and sisters that they are NOT heard, that we intend to support the societal structures that keep them oppressed, that we will not working for lasting change. History shows that there is nothing that leads to radicalization like not feeling heard and being systematically oppressed.
So, get educated. Tell your friends and family to stop saying Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter. Support the Black Lives Matter movement. Do what you can to work for change, for acceptance, for justice and for love.
Originally posted on my Facebook as a note on July 10, 2016