Black Lives Matter. All Lives Matter.
Two phrases that are supposed to go hand in hand but have somehow evolved into polar opposites.
As I was walking through the town of Bethlehem, headed back to my room, I spotted a white man walking toward me, donning a shirt with three words: All Lives Matter. I grinned as he walked by, looking him straight in the eye. He quickly turned away as if he was uncomfortable.
“All Lives Matter” is a phrase that makes my blood boil. Now, I don’t necessarily disagree with the statement itself, but the basis of its creation and why people use it is downright disrespectful.
Just to clarify, I’m not an activist, nor do I like to indulge in political conversations pertaining to racial conflicts. Don’t expect me to entertain your personal hot takes and refutes. I’m truly proud to be African-American. I take pride in being a part of the 4 percent of African-American students at Lehigh. I take pride in defying stereotypes by being somewhere that “my type” is not supposed be. I take pride in seeing the astonishment on someone’s face when I utter the words, “I go to Lehigh University.”
So why does the saying “All Lives Matter” irritate me? Well, the entire movement was created in response to Black Lives Matter. Let’s be real, there would be no All Lives Matter if there was no Black Lives Matter. It’s based on misconceptions of the true meaning of Black Lives Matter and simply some of society being uncomfortable with black people speaking out.
Black Lives Matter is not a movement stating that blacks are superior to everyone else or blacks are the only ones experiencing struggle in this country. It’s a movement that is meant to shed light on the area of violence and systemic racism toward black people. According to a Rasmussen Reports poll, 82 percent of black voters think most black Americans receive unfair treatment from the police and just 19 percent of black voters think the justice system is fair to blacks and Hispanics. It’s not irrational to think this way after all the recent events that have happened involving unjustified killings of blacks by police officers.
In 2014, Arthur Chu, an American columnist, tweeted “Do people who change #BlackLivesMatter to #AllLivesMatter run thru a cancer fundraiser going ‘THERE ARE OTHER DISEASES TOO.'”
When you say All Lives Matter, you are blindly undermining something that is meant to improve society. There’s a major issue to address in this country, and if you’re unaware, then your ignorance is disturbing.
This country still tends to struggle with change. All Lives Matter fits the comfort zone of some people because it ignores race. You can’t progress as a society if people refuse to step out of their comfort zones. Of course all lives matter. No one is disputing that, but black lives are being undervalued in this country and this must change. To those who believe the Black Live Matters movement is causing segregation all over again, you’re missing the point. In fact, you’re way off. This isn’t a war against other races — this is a war against injustice and a corrupt judicial system.
But why should it be the All Lives Matter supporters that are uncomfortable after what has gone on in this country?
I know I’m uncomfortable with watching a video showing Terrance Crutcher lay motionless in a puddle of his own blood because he was shot with his hands up immediately after being tased. I’m uncomfortable with a fan at a Chicago Bears game running onto the field during a television timeout dressed in a monkey costume, wearing a shirt that read “All Lives Matter” on the front. I’m uncomfortable that a few weeks ago, the Philadelphia Sixers organization told singer Sevyn Streeter that she couldn’t perform the national anthem because she was wearing a “We Matter” jersey.
I’m uncomfortable with All Lives Matter.
Zion Olojede, ’18, is the deputy sports editor for The Brown and White. He can be reached at [email protected]