The Problem With Saying “All Lives Matter”

The issues with the latest counter to the Black Lives Matter movement

A comparison of the reported fear of interacting with a police officer of members of different races

Vox News

A comparison of the reported fear of interacting with a police officer of members of different races

Editor’s Note: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this opinion article belong solely to the author and do not reflect the view of The Colt Chronicle Staff, Kinnelon High School, or its students and staff members. 

Black Lives Matter, a revolutionary movement and phrase that has captivated Americans all over the country, and black people all over the world, is not new in ideology, simply in name. Since July 13, 2013, Black Lives Matter has become a staple in a very thick stack of papers dating back hundreds of years before Trayvon Martin’s murder and Colin Kaepernick’s kneel on a football field. 

It is no secret that this movement was much needed, despite what some who oppose it may say. It is near impossible to debate–the Constitution of the United States of America settled on only having three out of every five enslaved people be counted as one person. The Fifteenth Amendment, which declared slavery illegal in the US, even made it so that forced labor is legal as long as the person being forced to labor is incarcerated, which has led to black men being wrongly incarcerated at high rates and forced to work for little to no pay. Racism, systemically, is built into the foundation of a country with supposed “freedom and justice for all” and, in turn, the very soul of the nation and its inhabitants.

A comparison of the net worths of all households of different races i the US (Vox News)

This is, personally, where my issue with the expression “All Lives Matter” stems from.

After the bombing of the Boston Marathon, nobody had an issue with the expression, “Boston Strong.” For instance, New Yorkers weren’t countering this phrase with “Hey! All cities are strong, not just yours! All Cities Strong!” Nobody comments under a post about breast cancer saying, “Well I have colon cancer! What about me?” So is it the idea? Or is it just the word black?

Saying “All Lives Matter” does not make you inherently racist or discriminatory, just miseducated or even ignorant. I’ve met people that genuinely aren’t trying to offend anyone when they say this, but that’s not the point–the point is that white people cannot say what black people should and should not get offended about. This phrase undercuts generations upon generations of systemically rooted racism by saying that we’re all equal when we’re not. Perhaps when a black man and a white man can walk down the street and have an equal chance of not being shot by a person supposed to protect them, then “All Lives Matter” will carry more weight. Until then, it sounds as if people that have never been oppressed are trying desperately to seem as if they have been. 

This is, of course, not even to mention the fact that “All Lives Matter” is mysteriously quiet when it comes to issues that aren’t directly related to race. For example, most people hiding behind the banner of “All Lives Matter” do not recognize many groups of people being blatantly discriminated against. If  “All Lives Matter” to them, then where are they when thousands of children disappear from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers at the border? When Muslims are being wrongfully persecuted? What about in Flint, Michigan, where people still bathe with bottled water? Where is their “All Lives Matter” when young, autistic children are being murdered by police? This last question, in particular, sparked controversy on a viral tweet that made its way through the internet from 2016.

A comparison of unemployment rates among different races in the US (Vox News)

If you have ever said or thought “All Lives Matter,” and are not fully educated, I encourage you to do more research before you debate–you are not necessarily wrong, just not politically correct either. And if you are educated and knowledgeable upon why so many have gotten upset by this phrase, I encourage you to at least hide your racism better. Until we are all truly equal, and, under the eyes of the law, black lives do matter, saying “All Lives Matter” is a far cry from true activism. 

Below are three graphs that illustrate how systemic racism is built into the foundation of America. All lives can’t matter until black lives do.