Why ‘All Lives Matter’ Is Insulting

“Educate yourself.” That’s one of the many ways you can help play your part during the social unrest currently taking place. So this is dedicated to all the folks plastering “All Lives Matter,” on social media, and defending the term in person. I have seen this hashtag and phrase on my feed posted by people I know personally. Some of these people, I know they truly mean no harm, and others, I know what side their beliefs are shifting towards and cover it behind this phrase. The fact of the matter is, when your response to black people losing their lives to the very people sworn in to protect society is to say “All Lives Matter,” it’s a slap in the face. It’s insulting, frustrating, and triggering.

Why? Because obviously we all know in the greater scheme of things that “All Lives Matter.” But obviously, the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” is very specific to bring awareness to an issue that has been going on for decades. “All Lives Matter,” as an independent statement is something mostly everyone can agree on. But the second the term is used in conjunction to “Black Lives Matter,” it’s offensive.

Clearly the phrase “Black Lives Matter” is specific. Its point is to make the public see that Black lives are in danger in this society. Some police officers who are sworn in to protect and serve the people are using deadly force and hiding behind their uniforms to kill Black and Brown people. This is the community’s way to say “we are here, we know you hear us, we know you see this injustice, I matter, my life matters, my life shouldn’t be any less important than yours because the color of my skin.”

I have seen so many memes and cartoons explaining why many are frustrated when they see and read “All Lives Matter.” The meme I saw used the concept of a burning house. If someone’s house is burning down, you’re going to call 9-1-1 and the fire department is going to come to your aid to put out that fire. They’re not going to spray down every single house because “everyone’s house matters.” They’re going to help the house that is in danger and on fucking fire. Nobody is going to be upset at the firefighters for not hosing down their houses, because obviously their house isn’t on fire. That’s the same concept for “All Lives Matter.” Yes, all lives matter, but Black lives are the ones in danger right now. It’s not okay for people to try to make it about everybody and anybody. Just because you aren’t included, doesn’t mean you make the cause about yourself and everybody else. What is this, oppression FOMO? This takes away from the main point.

That’s like if a group of people were to come to my grandmother’s funeral and demand that we all acknowledge every single one of their relatives and loved ones that passed on, and my family comforts them for their loss. Even though the funeral is for a specific person whose casket is right infront of your eyes. It would be equivalent to going to a fundraiser to raise money to find a cure for a specific disease / cancer, and then having people come in protesting and chanting that other cancers and diseases are worse and need your attention more.

It’s frustrating to see people cling onto “All Lives Matter” because it takes away from the main point. It derails the focus, whether that be intentional or not, and it makes a group of people feel ignored. It’s even more messed up because “Black Lives Matter” is the Black community’s way of feeling heard and being seen. “All Lives Matter” is basically down playing the Black community’s suffering. That’s why it’s a slap in the face. You’re going to take a phrase that they created to bring awareness, and then use that same phrase to dismiss their feelings. And what about “Black Lives Matter” bothers you? The word “black?” If you can sit here and say “All Lives Matter” but feel uncomfortable saying “Black Lives Matter,” that means black people were never included in your “all.”

And I hate a “I see no color” type of bitch. If you don’t see that the color of people’s skin dictates the opportunities they get in life, the treatment they recieve from law enforcement, and can essentially put them at a disadvantage since birth, it just means that you have the privilege to not face those realities. And it’s OKAY to realize that you are privileged in some aspects. But it’s not okay to think that your experience is a blanket experience for every single person out there, because a lot of people do not have the luxury to ignore these issues.Why can’t some people ever let the Black community have their moment? Why does another opposing hashtag have to be trending as well? Why does “Black Lives Matter” rub some people the wrong way?

Like I said before, if “Black Lives Matter” bothers you, it’s probably because Black Lives were never a part of your “All Lives Matter.” But let’s break it down. You can’t chant “All Lives Matter” but exclude certain people from that saying. You can’t say “All Lives Matter,” if the LGBTQ community, all cultures, and those that aren’t U.S. citizens don’t fall under that umbrella. If all lives matter, you can’t be biased.

I still know a lot of people using “All Lives Matter,” and they genuinely don’t see why it’s so offensive to others. We all know everyone’s life matters. No matter what race, religion, economic background, and sexuality you come from or identify as. You matter. But for some reason it’s so hard for society to see that BLACK LIVES MATTER. And they need to spell it out in plain English for some of y’all to get it. Don’t hit them with the, “why does everything have to be about race?” It has always been about race in America.

The phrase “All Lives Matter” tries to silence “Black Lives Matter.” It tries to deny a group of people’s suffering and downplay their pain. It tries to make people think that they shouldn’t single out just 1 race, because ‘everyone’ should be included. And that’s definitely not the case when Black lives are threatened everyday by the system.

No Justice, No Peace

Artwork by: Marielle Cabillo

The last week of May 2020 will definitely go down in history. The political climate of America is shifting. The inhumane death of George Floyd is what broke the camel’s back. Thanks to social media, videos of George Floyd pleading for his life while Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck until he suffocated to death, went viral and caught the eyes of many. People’s anger towards law enforcement, the people in power, and the justice system (or lack there of) is beginning to boil over. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this is all long over due. People are angry, rightfully so, and are desperately fighting for change. How many more black lives will it take for some of you to open your eyes?

I remember I was in the 8th grade when Oscar Grant III, 22, was murdered in 2009. This incident stuck with me since it was so close to home, taking place in Oakland, California. I was so upset when I saw the videos on the news, taking place in the Fruitvale BART station on New Year’s Day. Why was it so hard for grown adults to see that this was murder? And that this was wrong and should’ve never happened? Why was it in plain sight to a 13 year old me – who at the time, didn’t know much about the justice system and in school we were just learning the surface of the injustices African American people have faced – that Oscar Grant’s death was a big deal?

At that age, my outspoken and blunt nature got me in a lot of trouble. I forgot what the conversation was, or how the topic even came about, but suddenly I got the urge to speak up in class. I don’t remember verbatim what I said, but it was along the lines of “Johannes Mehserle killed Oscar Grant, and he should be in jail.” My teacher snapped.

“You have no idea what its like to be a police officer, you don’t know what its like to be under that pressure.”

I tried to argue back, saying that yes, I have no idea what it’s like to be an officer. But I do know that he was mistreated because the color of his skin, and that the police used unnecessary force. If they felt their lives were in danger, wouldn’t you reach for your taser before a gun? And even then it didn’t make sense to reach for anything since Grant was unarmed and on the ground. I was in an argument with a teacher… It was then I realized that regardless if you have valid points, there will be some people out there that will always take law enforcement’s side. Probably because that’s what they were taught, or simply because they never had unjust encounters.

In the Filipino culture, it’s very common to be taught to let things go, or not take things too seriously when an elder has an opposing view. To avoid conflict with family / their elders, many ignore the racist views and comments. We are taught to keep our beliefs to ourselves, and if you disagree, fine, just don’t you dare try to argue it. This has created tension within families, not only in Filipino households, but more so a lot of first generation children. The “disagree but stay hush hush” is something first generation children deal with when it comes to conversations on race and equality.

Getting into journalism was no different. Except this time they called it “being unbiased.” In times of distress, journalists still need to remain neutral and unbiased. This is something I’ve struggled with. It bothered / still bothers me to know that if I were to cover a White supremicist rally, that I would have to remain “neutral” while writing or documenting my piece. And the only time opinions in journalism is “acceptable” is if its an opinion piece. In times of racial tension, staying neutral and silent is the last thing people should be doing.

There are some people out there that act as if racism doesn’t exist. And other times there are people that know racism still exists, but choose to not address it because they’re scared to stir the pot. But turning a blind eye to something so apparent and disgusting helps nobody. No change comes from being silent. This reminds me of first generation children and their age gap with their elders. They know its wrong, but don’t speak up. By avoiding these hard conversations, you give hate and racism space to grow.

And it sucks, because we live in a time where you have to conceal what you believe because it can effect your professional life. I’ve heard countless times in journalism classes that whatever we post can be held against us. If we are seen at a rally, a protest, a march, it can mean losing our job. If we are posting anti-Trump content, giving our opinion on our personal platforms, it can mean losing your credibility as a journalist. Some people have to conceal their identities at the Black Lives Matter rallies because if they are identified, they could be putting themselves in danger. This is part of the problem, that some people have to choose between their job or publically speaking out or showing out for racial inequality.

And then there are some people that act shocked to learn that African American people still get treated like this in 2020. There is a shock factor that we all initially go through when new video footage surfaces of an African American being wrongfully murdered. But to be so baffled about the structures of oppression, the unjust ways of the system, and racism in general, that’s your privilege showing. For those that “can’t believe it,” you are denying the reality of so many individuals. Oh, you can’t believe it? When there are so many black lives that have been taken by law enforcement that we can name multiple victims by name just from the top of our heads? Wake the fuck up. If you’re surprised by everything taking place, its because you’ve been turning a blind eye to your brothers and sisters in oppression.

Like I said, the last week of May 2020 will go down in history. We have all been Sheltering in Place for almost 3 months, and in those 3 months we are bombarded with video footage of more police killings, more black lives being lost, more evidence of people falsely accusing black people of crimes. All. On. Video. This is not hearsay. There are so many videos from this Shelter in Place alone that I couldn’t keep up with it all. Everyday it seems like there is something new, someone else being killed, another cop acting out of hate, another hashtag going around of the newly deceased. This isn’t right.

And being Sheltered in Place only showed everyone’s true colors. Being at home gave us all extra time to keep up with current events. This has been building up over decades, but Sheltering in Place shed light on the broken parts of the system. Everyone’s tired of this shit. When is enough enough? How many more people have to die for actual change to happen?

Covid-19 really put into perspective what’s important to America. When mostly white protesters went against Shelter in Place Orders to have their “freedom” back because they can’t stay inside for the sake of medical field workers to flatten the curve, Trump supported them. Describing them as “very good people” that are angry and want their lives back. But when people protest the murder of one of their own, they are “thugs.” Its all about how the media portrays different groups of people, and when the president is the one to spew out hate, it further divides us as a people. The truth is, George Floyd can never have his life back, because a man who’s duty is to supposedly “protect” decided to end his life.

Why is it when these Trump supporters protest and hold up their “Trump 2020” signs with no masks in the middle of a pandemic, they have a right to protest? But when all races come together to peacefully protest the murder of a black man, a curfew is set, people are being tear gassed, rubber bullets are being shot, and the military is getting involved? The anger has been building up for decades, and we are now just seeing the outcome of people’s wrath.

I saw this tweet going around that stated:

“…Looting is the ultimate strike against a system that deems mass-produced objects to be far more precious than life itself. It is humanity demanding to be recognized.”

I know a lot of people have different views on looting. But to me, under these circumstances, I’m not so easily for it or against it. And I’ll tell you why:

In general, I do not condone looting. I personally wouldn’t do it. I believe peaceful protests will make change, and fighting violence with violence will only give the oppressor the upper hand. I genuinely feel for all the small businesses that have been effected by looters. Covid-19 has already put some businesses in a shitty spot financially, and on top of that to have your businesses broken into or burned down, my heart goes out to them. I feel like small businesses should be excluded from vandalization because it’s not some corporate company with millions of dollars, you’re hurting someone in your neighborhood trying to make a living. And that’s where I definately don’t agree with the looters making small businesses owner’s lives hell, especially with the devastating effect Covid-19 has had on them already.

However, I do see why some people resort to looting big well known companies. People are upset. Years of feeling ignored, unsafe, and dehumanized will take people to that breaking point. I explain it to some people as “I don’t agree, but I understand.” At the end of the day, I’m not black. I don’t know first hand what its like for my people to be the main targets of society. And I recognize that that’s my privilege showing. That’s why who am I to judge how some people grieve? Its true, America values the dollar more than a life. And it shows. “Seeing a black man plead for his life won’t pull at your heart strings? Okay, loosing profit off of your products will though.” Its anger driven, but I understand. And I also understand that majority of these looters are not affiliated with the protests and are just using this situation as a cover up. And to them I say – fuck you, you’re not shedding light on anything and you’re there for the wrong reasons.

I saw the video of CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and his crew getting arrested on live TV with no explanation. Another reporter and her crew got rubber bullets shot at them. Journalists have a right to document and report on these issues. Its so disheartening to see things like this on the news and all over my feed. I’m seeing so many videos of peaceful protesters being sprayed and abused. All I have to say is: THE WORLD IS WATCHING. The true colors of some of these cops are being exposed. You can’t hide behind your uniform anymore, the world sees you, the real you.

It seems like the media focuses more on the violent parts of the protests, not the peaceful side. For the most part, the protests have been peaceful. There are even some videos out there of some officers walking with protesters. Videos of mass gatherings of people having a moment of silence, taking a knee, and human baracades to protect black and brown folks, makes me have hope in humanity.

We have hit the threshold, and now it’s time for change. Now is not the time to be silent. Its time for all races to stand up and fight alongside our black brothers and sisters. Enough is enough. Say it loud and say it unapologetically : BLACK LIVES MATTER 🗣