Recently, on the back window of a large, shiny, late-model, extended-cab pickup truck I saw a sticker proclaiming that ‘ALL LIVES MATTER.’ I read it in the bold, in-your-face manner in which it was intended. Understandable. After all, the initial proclamation that invoked the sticker’s sentiment — ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’ — was no less boldly proclaimed.
However, if I am interpreting the All Lives Matter response correctly, the underlying sentiment seems to be that we are all EQUAL and there should be no distinction based on race when discussing the sanctity of human life. Period. And I couldn’t agree more.
I am curious about something, though. Why was there no public outcry of ALL LIVES MATTER before the spate of unarmed black men being killed by police (accept in the case of Trayvon Martin, who was killed by a private citizen acting as a police officer by proxy)? Is it not relevant? Is it not true?
Of course ALL LIVES MATTER. By default. The United States Constitution declares it to be so. The very God this country ‘trust’ commands it. So why would anyone — or any one segment of the population — suddenly make such a public outcry specifying that ‘black’ lives matter?
Now one could, even in the face of what appears to be an obviously disproportionate number of unarmed African American men being shot and killed by the police, insist that all lives matter and reject the specificity of ‘black’ lives. But given the context of the ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’ movement, I am curious as to what is the genesis of the ALL LIVES MATTER counter proclamation.
It’s as if specifying ‘black’ excludes the lives of all others, and that is not accurate by any stretch of the imagination. Given the circumstances which spawned the movement to begin with, would it not be more intuitive to infer the word ‘too,’ as in Black Lives Matter, Too rather than the word ‘only,’ as in Only Black Lives Matter’?
Come to think of it, I guess the slogan could have been ALL LIVES MATTER, with the implied NOT JUST WHITE ONES. Except for the fact that throughout the history of the United States, it has been abundantly clear that, by default, White lives matter more. No proclamation necessary.
Maybe we were supposed to infer ‘not just white ones.’ If only I could believe that was the sentiment.
I wonder why I hadn’t heard of ALL LIVES MATTER before the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement commenced? Could it be because there were few newsworthy incidents of law enforcement exerting undue force against Caucasians? Last I looked, white folks are not relegated to committing only ‘white collar’ crimes; they engage in street crime just like every other racial and ethnic group. But there is empirical evidence that excessive force by police officers during adversarial encounters with the public is perpetrated much more often.
And for what? Selling loose cigarettes. Jaywalking. Driving without a valid driver’s license. Failing to use turn signals. Driving with an inoperable taillight. Holding a toy gun. Wearing a hoody.
Are any of the aforementioned actions worthy of taking a human life? If any of these infractions were left unpunished, would society be so much the worse for it?