I’ve written about how saying “all lives matter” in response to #BlackLivesMatter is nothing more than a distraction before and that’s still true. Saying that ‘all lives matter’ doesn’t really seem to accomplish anything other than taking focus away from some extremely serious issues. And the same thing happens with bringing up black on black crime – talking about this specific type of crime doesn’t seem to really do anything other than distract again from other issues like police brutality.
There are many analogies that describe how distractive saying ‘All Lives Matter’ can be – the comic above is one. Another is from The Nightly Show – Felonious Munk and Larry Wilmore have a conversation about the phrase and why it’s a shallow response.
Personally, I don’t understand the notion of countering ‘Black Lives Matter’ with ‘All Lives Matter’ doing anything other than to take away focus from the major issues the come with the conversation around racism and police brutality. Many have pointed out that by saying black lives matter, we’re not saying that other lives don’t – just that all lives don’t really seem to matter equally. As Julia Craven puts it – she says black lives matter because “this nation has a tendency to say otherwise”.
There’s the other distraction in the conversation of systemic racism and police brutality of bringing up black on black crime, which for me is even more of a confusing counterpoint from white people than all lives matter. And I should specify that in this situation, I’m specifically talking about when white people mention black on black crime.
Because the movement of Black Lives Matter with all its facets has been focusing on issues of racism, police brutality, and the violent repercussions of white supremacy. For me, that has been the focus of the movement so when white people derail it with talking about black on black crime (and have never actually cared), I just wonder where their sentiment is. Plus, there are communities and people who do care about this specific type of violence and have protested against and have done work to end it.
Bringing up black on black crime does little to address the larger conversation of systemic inequality and police brutality other than to imply that black and African American communities deserve constant policing and over incarceration, which is something that people have directly said. And there are many who do bring up black on black crime that fail to account for the fact that in most of those same cases, the people responsible are brought to justice. Police officers, however, are held to a different standard and seem to rarely be held accountable for their fatal actions.
Plus, when bringing up black on black crime, I rarely see those same people talk about other types of crime. We as white people commit more crimes against each other than most other races and despite what police unions will have you think, seven of the eight police officers killed this year were killed by angry and armed white men. We don’t talk about white on white crime in the same way so it makes me wonder as to the intentions behind white people bringing up black on black crime. We also have similar rates of drug usage yet we usually aren’t the ones being labeled and jailed as felons.
(*Note: the above video is satire.)
Talking about and addressing violence is important in any community and like I mentioned, there are people who’ve protested and worked on the issue of black on black crime. But in the conversation and protests of Black Lives Matter, talking about how all lives matter and black on black crime does nothing other than distract from the much needed conversation and work of systemic inequality, white supremacy, and police brutality.