Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter

I decided to address this in itself after researching this issue for a previous article.  So you may see some previously seen information.  I just wanted to dive in a little deeper…..



“In order for slavery to work, in order for us to buy, sell, beat, and trade people like animals, Americans had to completely dehumanize slaves.  And whether we directly participated in that or were simply a member of a culture that at one time normalized that behavior, it shaped us.  We can’t undo that level of dehumanizing in one or two generations.  I believe Black Lives Matter is a movement to rehumanize black citizens.  All lives matter, but not all lives need to be pulled back into moral inclusion.  Not all   people were subjected to the psychological process of demonizing and being made less than human so we could justify the inhumane practice of slavery.” 

     Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone



All lives matter.  This is what I hear all the time.  We know ALL life is important and precious.  No one is saying blacks have the only lives that matter right now.   But this is the issue – racial injustice.  The black community is hurting and needs the help, the attention, at this particular point in time. 





David Bedrick J.D., Dipl. PW, in a July 2015 article in Psychology Today entitledWhat’s the Matter With ‘All Lives Matter’?” states :


In response [to the phrase “Black Lives Matter”], some white folks have countered with the phrase, “all lives matter.”  While this is seemingly a more empowering as well as a diversity affirming response, it is neither.  When people say “all lives matter” in response to “Black Lives Matter,” they are not simply opening their arms to the greater diversity of humanity.  Instead, they are taking race out of the conversation.  While the statement masquerades as a bright and inclusive light, in the shadow of this statement hides a willful ignorance of America’s racist past and present.  There is no doubt that racism exists today. The research evidence is vast and clear.   Adding insult to injury, asserting that all lives matter in response to Black folks declaring that Black Lives Matter, turns our eyes away from acknowledging America’s racist past, functioning as a form of dismissal or denial.  If we stop highlighting and focusing on Black lives, but instead focus more globally and generally on all lives, then we stop seeing color as a factor in American life. Putting it simply, if we erase race, we won’t see racism. 


Let’s face it, most white people don’t regularly think about themselves as white. We are not made to think about our race because we are not living in a pervasive systemic atmosphere that injures us because of our skin color. As such, we easily think of ourselves as a “just a person,” as a human being belonging to the human family. But when a person is regularly injured because of a quality [like the color of their skin], it is veritably impossible to enjoy the luxury of ignoring that quality.  When a white person responds to the statement “Black Lives Matter” by countering with “all lives matter” they exhibit a blindness to the privilege of living outside of a painful and marginalizing lens that highlights their race; a privilege not enjoyed by Black and brown people.  In the words of Jarune Uwujaren  [a contributing author to the publication Everyday Feminism], “[I}f you have trouble seeing race or are tired of people making things about race, realize that if they could, most people of color would ignore race too.”


The statement, “all lives matter” did not arise in a vacuum. It was not born of a passion for the value of all life; it is not a worldwide social movement for justice. It was a response, a retort, a counter-point to the statement “Black Lives Matter.”  As such, we cannot evaluate it purely in terms of its accuracy (i.e, “Isn’t it true that all lives matter? Wouldn’t it be good to live in a world where all lives mattered?”) or as a general statement of care for all beings, including Black beings. It is not said as a matter of truth or a statement of values. Instead, it’s spoken as a form of communication that functions as a rebuttal to the statement “Black Lives Matter.” As such, they are not words of love for all beings; they are words of negation, repudiation, and refutation. They are words of debate; they are fighting words. What are the speakers of these words fighting? Simple—that Black Lives Matter!”





In a July 8, 2020 article in PARENTS  magazine entitled “6 Reasons ‘All Lives Matter’ Doesn’t Work—in Terms Simple Enough for a Child”, author Maressa Brown tries to break it all down:


“The reason ‘Black Lives Matter’ went from hashtag to a movement illustrates exactly why saying it out loud was necessary in the first place,” notes Ginna Green, a political strategist, writer, and mom of four from Stamford, Connecticut.  “Anti-black racism is hardwired into America’s DNA, and it touches Black lives every single day—from cop killings to predatory lending to poorly-funded schools.  To say ‘Black lives matter’ acknowledges that in many ways we never did—not to suggest that anyone else matters any less.”   “The fact is that white lives have ALWAYS mattered in the eyes of the government and police force.  The same cannot be said for people of color!!  No one is saying your life doesn’t matter.  However, until the day comes that Black Americans aren’t being shot in their homes, in the street, and in their cars, you CANNOT tell me that all lives matter in the eyes of our society.  All lives won’t matter until black lives do.”


From a viral video clip created by Twitter,  user @JlTEAGEGE, who was just 15 when she filmed it back in 2016, makes it clear: 


“Black lives matter” does not mean Black people are “superior.”  The content creator says, “We’re all people, of course we all matter.  But are all races getting routinely killed by the police for no reason other than the fact that they are Black?”  



The bottom line: Until Black lives matter, there’s really no truth to the statement “all lives matter.”  As Aliza Garza, one of the creators of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, put it in a 2014 article for The Feminist Wire, “Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean your life isn’t important—it means that Black lives, which are seen as without value within White supremacy, are important to your liberation.  Given the disproportionate impact state violence has on Black lives, we understand that when Black people in this country get free, the benefits will be wide-reaching and transformative for society as a whole.  When we are able to end the hyper-criminalization and sexualization of Black people and end the poverty, control and surveillance of Black people, every single person in this world has a better shot at getting and staying free.  When Black people get free, everybody gets free.”






Why you should stop saying “all lives matter,” explained in 9 different ways

By German Lopez      Jul 11, 2016   [ ]


It’s a common conversation these days: One person says, “Black lives matter.” Then another responds, “No, all lives matter.”


It’s also a complete misunderstanding of what the phrase “black lives matter” means. The person on the receiving end interprets the phrase as “black lives matter more than any other lives.”  But the point of Black Lives Matter isn’t to suggest that black lives should be or are more important than all other lives. Instead, it’s simply pointing out that black people’s lives are relatively undervalued in the US — and more likely to be ended by police — and the country needs to recognize that inequity to bring an end to it.  To this end, a better way to understand Black Lives Matter is by looking at its driving phrase as “black lives matter, too.” So all lives do matter, obviously, but it’s one subset of lives in particular that’s currently undervalued in America.






“All houses matter”






Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any.  So you say “I should get my fair share.”  And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, “everyone should get their fair share.”   Now, that’s a wonderful sentiment — indeed, everyone should, and that was kinda your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also.  However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any!


The problem is that the statement “I should get my fair share” had an implicit “too” at the end: “I should get my fair share, too, just like everyone else.”  But your dad’s response treated your statement as though you meant “only I should get my fair share”, which clearly was not your intention.  As a result, his statement that “everyone should get their fair share,” while true, only served to ignore the problem you were trying to point out.


Just like asking dad for your fair share, the phrase “black lives matter” also has an implicit “too” at the end: it’s saying that black lives should also matter. But responding to this by saying “all lives matter” is willfully going back to ignoring the problem. It’s a way of dismissing the statement by falsely suggesting that it means “only black lives matter,” when that is obviously not the case.  And so saying “all lives matter” as a direct response to “black lives matter” is essentially saying that we should just go back to ignoring the problem.  The phrase “Black lives matter” carries an implicit “too” at the end; it’s saying that black lives should also matter. Saying “all lives matter” is dismissing the very problems that the phrase is trying to draw attention to.






Do people who change #BlackLivesMatter to #AllLivesMatter run through a cancer fundraiser going “THERE ARE OTHER DISEASES TOO” !





WTF is the impulse behind changing #BlackLivesMatter to #AllLivesMatter. Do you crash strangers’ funerals shouting I TOO HAVE FELT LOSS !!




A minister’s explanation taken from the Unitarian Universalist Association’s website:

Of course all lives matter.  Central to Unitarian Universalism is the affirmation of the inherent worth and dignity of every person.  Sadly, our society has a long history of treating some people as less valuable than others.  Study after study has confirmed that in equivalent situations, African Americans and Latinos are treated with deadly force far more often than White people, and authorities held less accountable.  Unfortunately, racial bias continues to exist even when it is no longer conscious—this too is confirmed by multiple studies.  A lack of accountability in the use of force combined with unconscious bias is too often a deadly combination – and one that could place police officers, as well as the public, in great danger. 


To say that Black lives matter is not to say that other lives do not; indeed, it is quite the reverse—it is to recognize that all lives do matter, and to acknowledge that African Americans are often targeted unfairly (witness the number of African Americans accosted daily for no reason other than walking through a White neighborhood—including some, like young Trayvon Martin, who lost their lives) and that our society is not yet so advanced as to have become truly color blind.  This means that many people of goodwill face the hard task of recognizing that these societal ills continue to exist, and that White privilege continues to exist, even though we wish it didn’t and would not have asked for it.  I certainly agree that no loving God would judge anyone by skin color.


As a White man, I have never been followed by security in a department store, or been stopped by police for driving through a neighborhood in which I didn’t live.  My African American friends have, almost to a person, had these experiences.  Some have been through incidents that were far worse.  I owe it to the ideal that we share, the ideal that all lives matter, to take their experiences seriously and listen to what they are saying.  To deny the truth of these experiences because they make me uncomfortable would be to place my comfort above the safety of others, and I cannot do that.  

[I am] glad that we share the goal of coming to a day when people will not be judged, consciously or unconsciously, on the basis of their race. I believe that day is possible, too, but that it will take a great deal of work to get there. That work begins by listening to one another, and listening especially to the voices of those who have the least power in society. If nothing else is clear from the past few weeks, it is painfully evident that a great many people do not believe that they are treated fairly. Healing begins by listening to those voices and stories.





This was taken from a letter from a group of students written to the faculty in protest to some law students wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts on campus. This excerpt is from the law professor’s much longer letter to the student in response:


Your premise is there is an invisible “only” in front of the words “Black Lives Matter.”   There is a difference between focus and exclusion.  If something matters, this does not apply that nothing else does.  If I say “Law Students Matter”, it does not imply that my colleagues, friends and family do not.   Here is something else that matters : context.   The Black Lives Matter movement arose in a context that evidence that they don’t.  When people are receiving messages from the culture in which they live that their lives are less important than other lives.  It is a cruel distortion of reality to scold them for not being inclusive enough.


There are some implicit words that precede “Black Lives Matter”, and they go something like this :


                         Because of the brutalizing and killing of black people at the 

                         hands of the police and the indifference of society in general 

                         and the criminal justice system in particular, it is important that 

                         we say that…


                                         This is far too long to fit on a T-shirt !!


Black Lives Matter is about focus, not exclusion.  As a general matter, seeing the world and the people in it in mutually exclusive, either/or terms impedes your own thought processes.  If you wish to bear that intellectual consequence of a constricting if you wish to bear that intellectual consequence of a constricting ideology, that’s your decision.  But this does not entitle you to project your either/or ideology onto people who do not share it.   


Saying Black Lives Matter is not an expression of racist hatred of white people.  Black Lives Matter is not a statement about white people.  It does not exclude white people.  It does not accuse white people, unless you are a specific white person who perpetuates, endorses, or ignores violence against Black people.  If you are one of those people, then somebody had better be saying something to you*.


      ( * I am using “you” here in the general sense as a substitute for “one” and not as in “you memo writers.” )





                         If all lives matter… SHOW US!!! Prove it! 

                        Show us our bodies hold the same value.  

                       There is no excuse for the slaughter. None.









Saying ‘All Lives Matter’ doesn’t make you racist, just extremely ignorant

              by. Troy L. Smith     Jun 29, 2020     [ ]


“Black Lives Matter” first made national headlines in 2014 following the police killings of Mike Brown and Eric Garner.  The movement was founded to “build local power and to intervene when violence was inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes,” as its website states.  The slogan isn’t “ONLY Black Lives Matter.”  Nor is it “Black Lives Matter more than others.”   [Some people are] misguided for believing All Lives Matter is some sort of righteous rebuttal to Black Lives Matter, a movement that exists to “imagine and create a world free of anti- Blackness…”   


When the Boston Marathon was bombed, social media profile pictures became “Boston strong!”   Nobody said, “All cities are strong!”


When the Las Vegas shooting happened, people changed their profile, “Stand with Vegas.”   Nobody said, “Well what about the people that got shot in my city!”


Have you ever seen someone counter a “breast cancer” post with “what about colon cancer?”


But for some reason, if someone says “Black lives matter” it turns into all-inclusive “all lives matter.”


The difference with Black Lives Matter is that it forces some to admit an uncomfortable truth.  While all lives should matter, black lives have been disregarded time and time again.


Did Black lives matter when George Zimmerman was acquitted after killing Trayvon Martin?  Did Black lives matter when a police officer who lied on his job application killed Tamir Rice and was then hired for another police job?


Did Black lives matter when an officer kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds while his fellow officers did nothing?  Do Black lives matter when the officers who killed Breonna Taylor haven’t been charged?


[But we live in] a country where Black men are 2.5 times more likely than white men to be killed by police. Where black employees make 62 percent of what white workers make doing the same job. Where black men statistically receive prison sentences 20 percent longer than white men who commit the same crimes.


Does that make anyone who responds to Black Lives Matter with All Lives Matter a racist?  Not necessarily.  But they do fall into a trap of racial dismissal and denial that prevents this country from experiencing real change.  They must open their eyes or even a history book to understand that if all lives truly mattered to everyone in the first place, America wouldn’t be in this mess.




            History Of Slavery Professor Explains The Mistake In

                                       Saying ‘All Lives Matter’

                                             BY KATIE O’MALLEY   September 6, 2020     [ ]


 –  We spoke to Professor Olivette Otele, Professor in History of Slavery at the University of Bristol and independent chair of Bristol City Council’s Commission on Race Equality, to understand why saying ‘all lives matter’ is misguided.


The phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ (BLM) is not just a statement of truth, but has evolved into a rally cry to right the wrongs that, over hundreds of years, we’ve yet to fully address.  While the movement has attracted international support, it has also been misunderstood and criticized.   Its opponents suggest that it implies Black lives matter more than those of others, with some proposing the phrase ‘All Lives Matter’ be used in its place.


‘It’s such bad faith to say that “all lives matter”,’ Professor Otele states from the outset.  Referring to the anti-racist protests across the world, she adds: ‘Surely this all started because they didn’t all matter? It’s so obvious. It’s dangerous [to use the phrase]. It’s laziness but, deep down, I wonder if it comes from the spectrum of racism?’


                    Why the phrase ‘All Lives Matter’ is problematic


Of course, on the surface, the phrase ‘All Lives Matter’ seems well intentioned, implying that all lives should be viewed equally.

However, the phrase contradicts itself. Well-intentioned or not, it can be received as ‘all lives already matter,’ which actually serves only to further defend the current state of inequality.  And as a rebuttal to the phrase ‘Black lives matter’, it acts to diminish and suppress the voice of Black people challenging the status quo. It mutes Black community’s particular and acute sense of suffering, which can be viewed as insensitive and inappropriate at a moment when there is huge, palpable pain, as we mourn George Floyd and other similar cases.


For those who use ‘all lives matter’ to denote the idea that many different groups of people currently suffer in the world, in Otele’s eyes, is ‘ignorance at its core’.  ‘Pain associated to specific context is unique because of what led to those moments. Certain comparisons are highly insensitive,’ she explains.  ‘No one would make a comparison between the Holocaust and another time of suffering. Black suffering is unique.’  The term ‘Black Lives Matter’ is reminiscent of the ‘Black Is Beautiful’ movement in the 1960s, which began in the US to fight for equal rights and a positive perception of the African-American body. At the time, Otele says that like BLM, some people criticised the phrase and argued that ‘”all people are beautiful”.’  ‘Of course, all people are beautiful, but you have to question why people say that “black is beautiful” or “black lives matter”?’ she asks. ‘For centuries people have been taught that black people aren’t beautiful. We’re reclaiming the fact that Black bodies are beautiful and that they do matter.’


‘It would be fantastic if all lives mattered but all lives are not valued equally. You don’t have to know about Black history but instinctively you have to understand that when people are saying “Black Lives Matter” it’s because its Black lives that have been disproportionately suffering,’ says Otele.




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