Don't kid yourself, all lives don't matter

Originally posted July 15, 2016

The American Civil Liberties Union is in business to defend the constitutional rights of all individuals.  There are other organizations to protect and defend the rights and lives of their members, as well as the general public.

The Anti-Defamation League, whose slogan is Imagine a World Without Hate, focuses on worldwide antisemitism, but has come to the defense of people of all ethnicities.

The Japanese American Citizens League was formed to secure and maintain the civil rights of Japanese Americans and all others who are victimized by injustice and bigotry.

There’s the Order Sons of Italy in America, Polish Falcons of AmericaGreek America Foundation and hundreds of other organizations, all with like-minded purposes.

The fact that these organizations exist clearly demonstrates two things:

1.  Injustice and bigotry is a reality for many minorities.

2.  It’s inevitable that members of minority groups who feel that they are under attack band together to demand justice for themselves.

Why is it then, that the very name, Black Lives Matter is so infuriating?  Do we disagree with the basic premise?  Do we take exception with the idea that black lives matter?

Why was it necessary to immediately push back against the BLM movement with the thinly veiled message that All Lives Matter?

We should be at a place where all lives matter, but that isn’t always the case.  The religious Right is pro-life, right up until the baby’s born.

After that, they’re on their own.

Saying that that all lives matter minimizes the vulnerability of those most at risk in our society.  It should go without saying that all lives matter.  The problem is that historical evidence refutes that claim.

When a self-appointed vigilante like George Zimmerman can get away with killing an unarmed teenager, then White America has lost the right to say that all lives matter.

When video after video shows black men killed for selling cigarettes or CDs or having a broken tail light, then we have to admit that black lives really don’t matter.

When a Chicago cop empties his gun into the prone body of teenager, we have to admit that there is a systemic failure to respect all lives.

We do not have to choose between respecting the lives of black men and supporting our police.  This is not the modern day version of Sophie’s Choice, nor is it a present day version of Thunderdome

One man does not have to die. The choice is not binary.

All lives will matter when we can actually live it.  All lives will matter when the scales of justice swing equally for all.

In the mean time, we could think about mothers knowing that every time their teenage sons walk out the door, they may not return. 

Repeatedly telling teenagers to be deferential WHEN (not if) they get stopped by police only goes so far.

Video evidence shows that being in full compliance with an officer’s requests may not save you.

Black lives matter.  If they don’t matter to you, they matter to them.  They matter to the wives and mothers and sons and daughters of black men.

Some friends in Skokie, Illinois asked why the protestors have to be so violent.  They get that black people are upset, but don’t think any of that anger should impact their White lives.

We are no longer a nation of empathetic people.  It’s always us or them. 

We don’t see why supporting the BLM movement is important to us as individuals and as a nation.

I also support local police departments, many of whose numbers I have on speed dial.  Just as most White Americans can’t imagine what it’s like to be Black, most civilians can’t imagine what it’s like to be a cop.

For me there is no dichotomy, no choice to be made.  The police do a difficult and often thankless job.  They stand that blue line for us at mortal risk to themselves.  They deserve our support and our thanks.

In supporting our police though, we need to ask them to keep one thing in mind.  ALL LIVES MATTER.

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