by Robert Gillis
Published in the Boston City Paper, June 7, 2020
It has happened to me TWICE this week that I have said, “Black Lives Matter” and someone responded, “All lives matter.” You are not wrong that all lives matter, but you are *spectacularly* missing the point. People of color, for centuries, have been KILLED by white people — for no reason except the color of their skin.
To my uninformed white friends, allow me to explain in a way you might understand. “Black Lives Matter” is another way of saying stop murdering and beating and lynching and hurting innocent people of color. Fucking stop it.
Black lives matter means a black life, which has been devalued by four centuries of generational and sanctioned racism, is JUST as valuable as any other. Of course all lives matter but black people are FAR more likely to be assaulted or killed by someone with authority over them, or by the fact they live in a place where violence and/or generational racism is prevalent.
Black lives matter can also be translated as “We understand ALL lives matter BUT Black lives do not seem to matter AS MUCH, and we are in DANGER.”
Would it appease you if the saying was, “Black Lives also matter?” How about, “All lives matter includes black lives but many of you don’t seem to understand that and we are in danger.”
Imagine this: A neighborhood child is dead. MURDERED. You are at the funeral and Mom is giving the eulogy and says, “My daughter’s life mattered.” You stand up and say, “My child’s life matters too!”
Of course, your child’s life matters. But YOUR child isn’t DEAD. Do you see what you just did there?
Do you understand now, or do we need to get some crayons?
4/15/2013: Two bombs go off at the Boston Marathon — 4 dead, hundreds injured, damaged, a city in chaos, its spirit broken.
Did we post “All cities matter?”
No, we posted “Boston Strong” to support the one city that was hurting, bleeding, dying and in danger.
All cities matter. But that week, only one was in flames and smoke.
When Notre Dame burned last year, no one posted “All churches matter.” All churches matter, people of faith know that.
We posted “Our hearts are with Notre Dame.” Why? Because it was in danger. Burning. Dying. The other churches, at the moment, were not in danger.
The store is on fire, the firefighters come battle the fire. No one yells, “All stores matter!” Because one specific store is burning.
Stop killing and assaulting innocent people of color. Stop marginalizing them. Treat people equally. Do unto others as you would have them do to you. Please understand that “Black Lives Matter” is saying “We are part of ALL lives matter, but this country keeps forgetting us.”
And PLEASE, no matter what color your skin is, take a look inside your own heart, and remember, we all bleed red.
The current revolution, and it IS one, is for the people who have, for more than four centuries, been denied a voice. *I* will no longer be silent or a passive observer.
The revolution IS being televised.