All Lives Do Matter, But to Whom?

Kristi Keller

Photo by Kipras Štreimikis on Unsplash

In today’s climate, it takes balls to write an article containing the phrase, ‘All Lives Matter.’ That statement is perceived as diminishing to the plight of Black Lives Matter and could be seen as insensitive or ignorant toward racism against black people.

Recently I read a dreaded 'All Lives Matter' piece and braced as I clicked into it, not knowing which angle the writer may be hitting from.

She made some very valid points throughout her piece though, and as I scripted a response I realized I couldn’t stop typing. I had enough to say on the issues that I needed to create my own piece, and here we are.

Before I continue, I should fill you in on my stance with Black Lives Matter.

The entire cause matters to me so much that I wish America could erase the last four hundred years and repeat the process the other way around. I don’t think white privileged people have the sagacity to endure the same physical and mental torment black people have endured, and still come out the other side as productive human beings.

Can you imagine a southern white belle crying for an icy cold Bourbon twist from out in the cotton field? Her birth name may have been Karen but of course, that name would have been stripped away on the auction block.

As crucial as Black Lives Matter is to me, I won’t be making myself physically present at any rallies because my 73-year-old mother’s life also matters to me. We’re still in the middle of a contagious pandemic and I visit my mother every day. If I can do only one thing to protect one person it has to be my own mother.

The ‘All Lives Matter’ article raises several arguments for different causes and human beings, whether groups or individuals.

The Organization of Mattering

Nearly every important fight has an organization behind it but not all organizations mean something to a collection of people so massive that they’d have any power in protesting.

For example, the war on drugs may not mean anything to you but it means everything to the mother who has lost her son or daughter to drug addiction. No less than 64,000 have died from an illegal drug overdose in any given year.

That’s a lot of parents possibly wishing a massive congregation had marched for their children. Some of those lives were black.

One in four women has been a victim of domestic violence and many of them are probably lumped into the 15,498 murders that reflects in annual statistics. This means there are thousands of children mourning the loss of their mothers and wishing someone had marched for them. Some of those lives were black.

Aside from all crimes and victims of violence, we have disease. There’s cancer, heart and stroke, mental illness, alcoholism, diabetes, dementia, and the list could go on long enough to make this a twelve-minute read. All of these health concerns also affect black lives.

Unless an issue affects you directly you may not feel passionate enough to rally behind it. It could be the most significant cause on the planet to your neighbor but it still may not get you out of bed in the morning. How many cancer runs have you taken part in?

I’m passionate enough to scream Black Lives Matter from a mountain top but I’m also human enough to shout that an addict’s life matters. To me, it feels unjust that a drug addict may appear as a derelict in the street to you when he really matters to me. He didn’t choose mental illness and he is somebody’s child. He may also be black.

Black Lives Matter is such a globally strong argument because of its historical value woven into the fabric of America. Racism against black people has been happening for centuries and it’s not because of something black people did, which makes it unjust and shameful AF.

They’re seen as lesser humans over something as superficial as color. Also because of the skewed mentality of generations of white supremacists, which has been carried forward into present-day America.

Protests and rallies against racism is a whole revolution America desperately needs to go through to elicit lasting change. That is a blatant fact and I feel hopeful this time because the cause is suddenly sweeping around the world.

Black Lives Matter is an organization for awareness and change just as drug and alcohol organizations, domestic violence organizations, or mental health organizations. All of them need support from someone and none are more or less important.

People tend to rally behind what is most personal to them because it directly impacts their lives every single day. It doesn’t mean they care less about other causes at large, it just means that one particular cause touches their lives more than the rest.

While millions of Americans have been out in the streets protesting against racism and police brutality, thousands of parents have lost their kids to overdoses, thousands of women were beaten to a pulp, and thousands more were raped.

It’s in our best interests to have compassion for all lives because that’s also what’s happening right now, today. Any one of a multitude of life-altering issues is staring someone in the eye at this very moment.

It’s absolutely possible to keep one organization as a personal priority without minimizing others. It makes no difference which organization matters to us for personal reasons, as long as each organization matters to someone.

By responding to Black Lives Matter with “Yes, but all lives matter,” is missing the point. All lives will matter when black lives do matter to everyone. It’s a shame we need an organization to drive that point home when it should be obvious.

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I'm an old school travel writer who's been flung into another writing world through life experience. I have a compassionate eye, a different opinion, and strong words for this world we live in. I also know a thing or two.


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