~ All lives can’t matter until black lives do.
It is hard for certain people to recognize that saying that all lives matter is synonymous to seeing one house on fire and suggesting that the fireman put water on all the houses. It makes no sense! But people in power often feel threatened when that power is being taken away and admitting that all lives are not being treated as if they matter is part of the threat. The people who think they benefit from the “all lives matter” propaganda simply aren’t comfortable with taking ownership for their privilege because it requires a sense of insight that they don’t have and guilt that they don’t want to face.
The irony between the All Lives Matter versus the Black Lives Matter debate, is that members of the All Lives Matter Community can live successful lives without ever having to cross paths with a person who believes in the Black Lives Matter agenda. For those of us Black Lives Matter people, we aren’t afforded with such an opportunity. That’s one of the many privileges that whites have and when this is not acknowledged it creates an atmosphere of toxicity against blacks who deserve to feel unconditionally safe in white spaces.
But that doesn’t mean that you have to sit here and settle with maintaining these relationships with All Lives Matter people. You might have to censor what you say because of your work environment and be guarded because of the educational system of your children, but there are ways to protect your emotional health (as well as the emotional health of your loved ones) from All Lives Matter trauma. Here are a few suggestions for understanding the challenges faced by not protecting your emotional health from the members of the All Lives Matter Community.
Black people are important, but All Lives Matter suggests otherwise. The dismissive undertones of the All Lives Matter community began in protest of the black community demanding appropriate representation, justice, and a call to action against discriminatory behavior that puts blacks at a disadvantage. The senseless counter-argument of All Lives Matter is synonymous to arguing against breast cancer to someone passionate about lung cancer issues. You can want to support one group without wanting to harm the other. When you are in the unfortunate space of being around someone who just does not understand that, you have to remind yourself that you are important and you need to avoid having too many opportunities for your respective paths to cross with those who don’t. In spaces such as work or school where it’s hard to censor your environment, be mindful that this too shall pass, do what you have to do to survive, and come home to a healthy routine for self-care. Examples include journaling, meditating, and exercise.
All Lives Matter is one of the biggest gaslighting elements that there is. If you’ve been working with us for some time, you know that gaslighting means to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity. You can find more information about that concept here. In other words, what the All Lives Matter movement tends to do, is attempt to corrupt the minds of black people into thinking that their experiences with discrimination are unfounded and therefore insignificant. This is not true and it is not okay to be in settings with people who cause you to feel that way.
Black children also matter. And when you allow black children to play with white children, if white children grow up in homes where they don’t acknowledge the interests of black people, this will affect the way they interact with your children and the messages that both children receive. This in return, affects your child. You owe it to your child to make sure that they are in the safest situations. If you wouldn’t allow your children to hang with someone who you thought was violent or a sexual predator, you should also encourage your children to hang with someone who must respect the uniqueness of the black community. Sometimes, just educating a white parent can facilitate this but imagine how difficult it must be for your child to facilitate this if you can’t. We have to set the best example that we can for our children and that includes eliminating their exposure to toxic people who believe in All Lives Matter.
Finally, you don’t want to be aiding and abetting white supremacy, but not confronting the All Lives Matter concept does just that. To sit by and not do anything about it is another way of condoning it and saying it’s okay to treat people this way. Silence is violence and in the words of Martin Luther King, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” Confronting this issue can take the form of direct confrontation but it can also take the form of avoidance. As you likely already know, it’s not your job to educate others about your own racial trauma and injustice issues so if someone’s not respecting them, it’s time to reevaluate your relationship with that person and exposure to them.