Friday, July 8, 2016

my problem with #alllivesmatter

I was scrolling through my twitter feed this morning, reading articles about the Dallas shooting and seeing the condolences and prayers being sent to the families of the lost officers. However, I then came across several people who had tweeted #alllivesmatter. This really got me thinking about the history of the #alllivesmatter and its relativity to the #blacklivesmatter movement.

I can honestly say I hate nothing more than the #alllivesmatter hashtag. But not for the reason you think.

Do I think all lives matter? Absolutely. Every human life matters. Black or White. Gay or Straight. Young or Old. Religious or Atheist. I absolutely value every single life on the planet.

However, where I have an issue is when people feel somehow less valued because one single group of people is being highlighted. 

Let me explain.

I recognize my white privilege. I know that my upper-middle class self will be able to get through life fairly unscathed. In recognizing my own privilege, I have also come to see the struggles others have that I will never face. The one I think I recognize the most is the relationship between black people and police brutality, purely because of the prevalence of police brutality aimed directly at the black community seeing as how it's what I have grown up seeing (this is a whole separate post for another time). 

The first time I remember seeing the #blacklivesmatter was right after the shooting of Michael Brown. I remember seeing it and thinking "This is awesome. I totally love this movement." Shortly after seeing #blacklivesmatter for the first time, a friend of mine tweeted #alllivesmatter. I couldn't put my finger on why, but I was indifferent to it. Obviously I support all people, but there was something about defensively stating that all lives matter in the wake of a horrible event that had effected the black community in the past and has continued to effect the black community that I really disliked.

Just recently, I came to realize why that is so.

The #alllivesmatter movement bothers me because it draws attention away from tragedy in a group of people unlike yourself in order to promote equality. Equality is good. However, why is it that white kids are tweeting #alllivesmatter when the likelihood of them going through a similar event is so astronomically tiny? Why do these people feel they need equality when our fellow humans are experiencing a series of events that we will never be able to say we've equally experienced?

What worries me is that I see this same trend throughout so many aspects of modern life.

People weren't demanding a straight pride day until there was a gay pride day.

White history month wasn't argued until black history month was recognized.

#alllivesmatter didn't matter until we highlighted the importance of black lives.

Equality is earned when two things are equal. And things are not equal.

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