It’s the activists’ fault… and not the ones marching in the streets.
“Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter” are once again talking past each other and pissing each other off, even though most of them agree. The issue is that each side is hearing what the other’s most radical activists are saying, and not what the majority of people using the phrase mean by it.
“Black Lives Matter” is trying to say that, fundamentally, all lives should matter equally but the lives of minorities are being treated as lesser things. They want to be treated as people, not to be judged as thugs purely because of the color of their skin. When people start telling them “All Lives Matter” in response, it sounds like their concerns are being dismissed, that they’re being ignored. “All Lives Matter” is trying to say that, fundamentally, all lives should matter equally. They are seeing people chant “Black Lives Matter” and they are interpreting that as “Black Lives (are the only ones that) Matter”.
On both sides, there are misinterpretations that suggest that their opponents believe some people are inherently better than others. That’s racist, and when it seems racists are exercising power – whether political, social, or legal – to suppress others, anger and sometimes violence results.
There are some white supremacists who have taken up the “All Lives Matter” banner specifically for that reason, to excuse and hide violence and oppression, and there is extensive video footage which underscores that view. Most of the people who use the “All Lives Matter” slogan have never seen that footage, and when it is shown or described to them they dismiss it because it doesn’t reflect how they see things. They use the slogan, they don’t believe they are racist, most of the people they know who use the slogan aren’t racist, and therefore those white supremacists, in their minds, are outliers.
I believe they’re probably correct about that, but what they’re missing is that the outliers have spoiled their slogan. When they don’t specifically exclude the outliers they’re standing with the white supremacists by default, and when they do exclude them they’re left with something that sounds like “I’m not a racist like those other people.”
It doesn’t mean their underlying principle is unsound… it’s something that just about everyone agrees with, as discussed above. But they are seeing the problems that stem from having openly racist views espoused by their leadership. It becomes impossible to reasonably distinguish yourself when the racism is both at the top and on the fringes… it befouls everyone in the group.
There are also Black Lives Matter activists who do, in fact, denigrate white people and wish for them to be targeted simply because of the color of their skin. The term “wypipo” is a catch-all slur designed to describe all white people, but “wypipo” can allow exclusions if a white person is suitably deferential to black culture, and can be used to describe black people who are acting, in the view of the attacker, “too white”. If this starts to sound like some other racial slurs… there’s a reason for that.
Beyond the words, there have also been white-on-black attacks and black-on-white attacks which have been motivated partially or primarily due to racial makeup. The nature of social media has amplified the old problems seen with the partisanship of professional media. “All Lives Matter” is being blanketed with images of blacks attacking whites and calling for subjugation of non-blacks (often in the form of “reparations”), and “Black Lives Matter” is being shown verbal and physical attacks by white people and police alike.
Just as an example, there were two incidents yesterday in California, where first a legally authorized Black Lives Matter mural was painted over by two “All Lives Matter” sloganeers (an arrest warrant has been issued for both of them) and then, after the mural was repaired, a man drove through and pointed a gun at the people guarding the mural (the man with the gun was immediately arrested, as a policeman was present.)
Physical attacks (and both of those incidents were physical attacks, even if they weren’t both directed at people) and slurs of any sort are simply going to escalate the problem… and there’s no need for any of it. Most people agree that we all need to get along and be treated equally. It’s a source of pride in many that the country was founded in part on that concept. We are being called to live up to that promise.
“All Lives Matter” needs to disappear as a slogan. The radicals – to include both all racists and the media and political figures who amplify their voices – need to be set aside. All of it is simply hatred which is politically useful to one group or another, and it will do nothing to identify and solve the actual problems which exist.
“Black Lives Matter” may need to disappear, too, if they grant too much power to racists seeking leadership within the group. That is a risk they face and which has damaged their messaging in the past. It remains to be seen if they fail in this way again.