In case you missed the most recent killing (video here–be warned that it contains violent and graphic content) of a black man by police (or you don’t have a Facebook), police brutality has, once again, taken America by storm. Americans are (as usual) split in two completely different directions: pro-police and anti-police. Though that’s a completely separate issue in itself (one I’ve already written on before), we still see people siding with two similar stances: “All Lives Matter” and “Black Lives Matter.” And, quite frankly, I’m sick of seeing people reaching for the “All Lives Matter” stance.
I’m sick because, as soon as this last outbreak of police brutality hit the news, I had friends immediately go to Facebook, posting “ALL LIVES MATTER” as their statuses–trying to claim that they mattered too, when an innocent black man–a father–was shot in the chest by police, while his arms were up in surrender.
It’s important for me to stress that, yes, each human life is precious. No one deserves to be killed, especially by people they should be trusting to protect them. Turning to the saying/hashtag of “All Lives Matter,” however, during times and situations like these is just cowardly. Cowardly because you’re too scared to admit what is actually happening in our country.
Fear aside, there are many other reasons why “All Lives Matter” is not how we should be handling the situation of police brutality–four of which, I’ll highlight here.
“All Lives Matter” overshadows the real issue.
The issue here isn’t that people everywhere are being killed. That’s not the issue that the “Black Lives Matter” supporters are trying to emphasize. Yes, all lives matter–but when it comes to police brutality, and the sheer violence shown towards people of color by officers, it’s not everyone that we’re worried about. It’s the black people. It’s the African American community that lives in fear of being shot by the police every day, for doing nothing wrong. If “All Lives Matter” was true with police brutality, we would see white people being fatally shot as they reached for their wallet to show their concealed carry permit. Instead, the white population walks away with a light smack on the top of their hand.
Compared to all people of color, white people really don’t have a problem with police brutality.
Though the numbers from 2015 show that more white people were killed by police than black people, we need to keep a few things in mind. We need to remember that–first–about 64% of America’s population is made up of white people, while only 12% is African American. To put this plainly, with the major population difference of 52%, and the high number of African-American deaths in comparison to their population percentage, black people are more likely to be killed by police. In fact, it’s been noted that black men are 21 times more likely to be killed by police than white men. “Black Lives Matter” is meant to emphasize the high risk of violence in the black community from police officers. Saying that “All Lives Matter” in this situation, is only diverting attention away from the situation.
“All Lives Matter” silences African-Americans.
Quite simply, the saying “All Lives Matter” tries to erase the struggles seen within African-American communities. I repeat: “Black Lives Matter” is meant to emphasize the high risk of violence in the black community from police officers; by saying “All Lives Matter,” you’re literally saying that police brutality towards African-Americans isn’t a problem at all–you’re telling them to shut up, because everyone matters, not just them. Even though they’re 21 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than any white person is.
By saying “All Lives Matter,” you’re encouraging institutionalized racism.
You might recall when I wrote an article a couple of months ago about racism within America. I’d suggest you go give it a read. By overshadowing the issue of police brutality within black communities, putting your problems–as a dominate race–ahead of the much more serious problems of a race we’ve oppressed for hundreds of years, and silencing African-Americans and the treatment of them, only works to encourage a system of racism we’ve had in place since the Civil Rights Era. By saying “All Lives Matter,” you’re implying that white people will always be more important, and the issues of a particular race–an inferior race–is not nearly as important as the whole, the whole of which is majority white.
Photo Courtesy of: Mia Renee Cole