We’ve all heard it, we’ve all been a part of the discussion at some point. Many people, not all (and perhaps not even most) are well-meaning when they argue that All Lives Matter. It’s true, each individual life is precious and needs to be celebrated. But of course, as the argument which I subscribe to goes, AllLivesMatter is entirely missing the point of why BlackLivesMatter (also heavily extended to LatinoLivesMatter, NativeLivesMatter, etc). There is a silencing of voice when the argument of All Lives vs. Black Lives arises. There is a blanketing, a hushing over the ones that are trying so desperately to be heard.
Well, there’s anger. And I don’t mean anger on the part of those that have suffered injustices. I mean anger on those that were unjust. The calling out of the reminder that all are equal, and not in the Animal Farm sense, is a reminder to those who have done their fellow human wrong, that they were not right. That they were cruel, and acted without conscious thought. There is anger.
An essay called “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates reminds us that racism isn’t dead. Through his telling of those who traveled from the Deep South as late as the 1920’s to seek a better life in norther cities, he shows the different type of racism, the cleaver kind, which distorted the African Americans, pushing them into the ghettos, keeping them poor and uneducated. This of course continued on into the 50’s and 60’s, when the movement to end segregation took hold.
But the memory of those robbed of those lives still live on in the lingering effects. Indeed, in America there is a strange and powerful belief that if you stab a black person 10 times, the bleeding stops and the healing begins the moment the assailant drops the knife. We believe white dominance to be a fact of the inert last, a delinquent debt that can be made to dissappear if only we don’t look.
Though many white people think that it all ended then, forty years ago, I t he last millennium. But how could it have?
Coates pains a very vivid picture. Sure, those of color are angry, and feel (rightly) that they have been served an injustice over the centuries, but it was out of anger that white people treated them so terribly. Slavery was abolished at the end of the Civil War, and those that relied on their slaves, those that had invested in their housing, health and well being (enough to keep them as good workers, anyway), were angry at their loss of investment. What’s more, they had to invest in new help. There are other reasons, I’m sure, for the anger. But at the end of the day, they lost something that was a part of their life, something that they knew, and something which gave them the sense of importance.
That anger carried on, and it’s what perpetuated the actions of the Klu Klux Klan, the segregation of human from human, and the fruition of ghettos, forcing good people to live in poverty.
Those that have endured the actions of such hatred have every right to need to heal, to find their voice again, to shout out that “Yes! We matter!” While I can’t speak for everyone, my understanding is that the anger of those that are minorities are of the injustices which still ripple through our country today, which still separate colors, which still insinuates that there is a race which is top dog. The anger is that they have fought so hard just to have a voice, through violence, slurs, and ignorance.
When their voice finally is heard, AllLiveMatter is the blanket to muffle the sound.
There is much healing that begs to be done. Those that are unjust, must realize the cause of their anger, and let it go. If anyone is going to be allowed to heal, it needs to be those that have wronged, those that have inflicted the anguish on others. If there is no healing on the part of the bully, then they will only continue doing what they know to do.
Compassion is what I’m known to preach. But in order for compassion to grow, understanding must grow as well. We must understand why it is that Black Lives Matter, and why it is only perpetuating the hurt when the retort is All Lives Matter. We must understanding where the stem of hate comes from, and work to heal it. There can be no solutions when anger is involved, no viable, productive solutions. The BlackLivesMatter movement forces us to face the anger, forces us to look at what we think we have moved past, and realize that things have only changed on the surface.