Dear fellow white person. Stop saying ‘All lives matter’.
Just. F*cking. Stop.
Our white lives have never not mattered.
Our white lives have allowed black people to be killed for centuries.
In saying that ‘all lives matter’, all you’re doing is showing how devastatingly uncomfortable you are with your own biased past. There is no shame in admitting that you’re uneducated or need to influence change in your own life… but there is a lot of shame in not being able to admit that you are inherently privileged.
Let me explain this to you – and to myself, as a white woman.
You don’t get to say that your life matters right now – because it was never in question. You are not being killed in the streets for doing just about nothing. You are not 4 times more likely to die in childbirth. You are not twice as likely to be unemployed. You are not likely to receive a prison sentence that’s almost 20% more than that of your white counterparts. You are not 5 times more likely to be incarcerated.
But you are more likely to be voted into congress and government. You are 50% more likely to get a call back on your CV because of your white sounding name. You are less likely to be bullied than the 15.8% of black children who are racially abused every year. And you are more likely to receive better healthcare than your Hispanic, black and Native American neighbours.
I’ve spent much of my life campaigning for the rights of women. I’ve protested the gender pay gap, contributed to the #metoo movement and co-hosted a podcast that raised issues of gender not commonly spoken about. Recently, I expressed that I would always do my best to employ a diverse group of women. Why? Because I want to ensure that fewer and fewer women are subject to workplace sexual harassment, being paid below the market rate and working for employers that don’t allow flexibility around their children.
Someone I mentioned this to said, “If you don’t employ men too, how can you say that you care about equality?”
This, my friends, is exactly the same as shouting ‘all lives matter’ back at Black Lives Matter protesters. All you’re doing is asking that person to put down their placard because it makes you uncomfortable. All you’re doing is showing that you don’t have an understanding of the injustice that that person is trying to right. All you’re doing is making yourself look like a sexist/racist who can’t admit that their past requires reckoning.
Black people have been segregated, whipped, enslaved, tortured, suffocated, lynched, shot, wrongly accused, incarcerated and choked to death for centuries. Centuries.
You’d think that those things ended with slavery. But they didn’t. And the only reason we think that they did is because black voices are still stifled.
I know that America is racist. Heck, I know that Britain is racist. Whilst I didn’t agree with it, I didn’t really understand why. My fault, and the fault of many white people, is that although we recognise we don’t understand why, we don’t try to find out. In an effort to continually re-educate ourselves, we watched 13TH on Netflix. If you haven’t seen it yet, whoever you are, I urge you to watch it and appreciate how politically and economically loaded racism actually is. It’s a comparison I’m scared to make, but as a German descendant we’ve seen what blaming an entire sector of society for a nation’s problem can do. We ask ourselves, ‘how is this still happening?’ whilst investing in corporations and businesses that are directly implicit in the mass incarceration of POC. We can’t change unless we educate everyone, of every colour.
So please. Stop responding to anti-racism and Black Lives Matter with ‘all lives matter’. It’s not a thing.
For the most part, we all think that all lives matter… but apparently not enough to do something about those that don’t.
Donate to Black Lives Matter. Take action.