All Houses Matter! All Houses Matter!

The Significant Issue and Privilege with the ‘All Lives Matter Movement’15 min read

Civil-Rights Politics
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Collin Kapernick - Nike Endorsement
Colin Kaepernick – Nike Endorsement

I am writing this post pursuant to a conversation with someone on Facebook – a high school classmate I have not see in very many years – who said the following things in response to me posting about Nike’s support for Colin Kaepernick, and I quote here:

Giant piece of shit

Seriously!!!!! How can u stand that piece of shit


high school classmate

(Update – he friended me again with a different account around 20 May 2020 and quickly spewed some racist crap again and got himself blocked again.=( )

This is NOT an issue that I have spent a lot of time reading and researching, but with this conversation, I thought it would be good to distill my current thoughts on this as a response to his words in general, but to his saying so you are saying all lives don’t matter???

I will say that If you are burning Nike’s shoes because of their support for Kaeperick then you have some soul searching to do. If you are boycotting Nike because of slave labor then we can have another conversation.

If you would like to watch the controversial Nike commercial with Colin Kaepernick then here ya go:

Nike Commercial Featuring Colin Kaepernik

Plus, here is little something that might just blow their minds – a veteran suggested that he kneel as a sign of protest. As a veteran myself, I fully support this.

Update: If you want another great meme with an example of why we kneel then here is one:

2 white mass shooters treated with respect and were not murdered in custody vs
2 black men with non-violent crimes attacked by multiple cops and murdered in broad daylight.

I. Racism and All Lives Matter

The #AllLivesMatter Movement is a clever, racist, and conservative rhetorical ploy whose goal is the undermine and co-opt the #BlackLivesMatter Movement.

Black people created Black Lives matter and then White people creation All Lives matter to silence them.

By saying All Lives Matter it redirects the conversation away from police violence against black people and other minorities, to everyone which includes such people (like myself) which experience an incredible amount of privilege (in my case, white male privilege) by not needing to worry about whether or not we will get shot or pulled over while crossing the street or driving while white. The All Lives Matter Movement is dismissive of the plight that black people and other minorities suffer in the horror story that is the United States and other countries around the world, that the ruling majority (white people with their privilege) do not suffer.

I could insert a lot of stats and examples here, but I will let you search for them. I will give you one example. A white male domestic terrorist who shot up a black church received a bulletproof vest and a stop to a fast food joint to get food because he was hungry, and made it to court just fine. How about what happened to Sandra Brown or Eric Garner, or how about the more recent George Floyd (May 2020)? One did not survive the night and was murdered while in custody, and the other 2 were killed on the spot. The list goes on and so do the horrific stats of innocent people’s lives destroyed by police brutality and abuse.

Here is a great clip from the black family comedy show Black’ish which highlights the struggle that black people face in America. This is pretty raw and to the point.

2. The Implicit ‘too’

By saying that Black Lives Matter they are not staying that only black lives matter, they are saying that black lives matter too – in addition to – the privileged lives of white people; there is an implicit ‘too‘ at the end of the statement, because black people disproportionately fall victim to police brutality, murder, framing, and harassment to which the All Lives Matter Movement implicitly dismisses. White people do not suffer police brutality at the same rates the black people and other minorities do, which is completely the issue that they are fighting against and to which the All Lives Matter movement wants to distract from.

It is not that all houses don’t matter, its that the houses that we should be concentrating on should be the ones that are on fire right now.

All Houses Matter!
All Houses Matter!

If all lives truly mattered to those who say it, then they should truly be up in arms about the disproportionate slaughter and abuse of minorities by police and they should be there and supporting the Black Lives Movement too using the chant and chosen mantra that they have chosen to use: #BlackLivesMatter, otherwise… they are contributing to the considerable problem of pushing police brutality under the rug, because they are not so affected. Privilege at its finest.

3. Other Ways of Explaining

I pulled a few examples from this amazing post on Vox from July 2016: Why you should stop saying “all lives matter,” explained in 9 different ways (Vox, Jul 2016):

A. Reddit User GeekAesthete Explanation from 2016

Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say “I should get my fair share.” And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, “everyone should get their fair share.” Now, that’s a wonderful sentiment — indeed, everyone should, and that was kinda your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also. However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any!

The problem is that the statement “I should get my fair share” had an implicit “too” at the end: “I should get my fair share, too, just like everyone else.” But your dad’s response treated your statement as though you meant “only I should get my fair share”, which clearly was not your intention. As a result, his statement that “everyone should get their fair share,” while true, only served to ignore the problem you were trying to point out.

That’s the situation of the “black lives matter” movement. Culture, laws, the arts, religion, and everyone else repeatedly suggest that all lives should matter. Clearly, that message already abounds in our society.

The problem is that, in practice, the world doesn’t work the way. You see the film Nightcrawler? You know the part where Renee Russo tells Jake Gyllenhal that she doesn’t want footage of a black or latino person dying, she wants news stories about affluent white people being killed? That’s not made up out of whole cloth — there is a news bias toward stories that the majority of the audience (who are white) can identify with. So when a young black man gets killed (prior to the recent police shootings), it’s generally not considered “news”, while a middle-aged white woman being killed is treated as news. And to a large degree, that is accurate — young black men are killed in significantly disproportionate numbers, which is why we don’t treat it as anything new. But the result is that, societally, we don’t pay as much attention to certain people’s deaths as we do to others. So, currently, we don’t treat all lives as though they matter equally.

Just like asking dad for your fair share, the phrase “black lives matter” also has an implicit “too” at the end: it’s saying that black lives should also matter. But responding to this by saying “all lives matter” is willfully going back to ignoring the problem. It’s a way of dismissing the statement by falsely suggesting that it means “only black lives matter,” when that is obviously not the case. And so saying “all lives matter” as a direct response to “black lives matter” is essentially saying that we should just go back to ignoring the problem.

TL;DR: The phrase “Black lives matter” carries an implicit “too” at the end; it’s saying that black lives should also matter. Saying “all lives matter” is dismissing the very problems that the phrase is trying to draw attention to.

GeekAesthete (Reddit, 2016)

B. “All Plates Matter” Video

Here is great video All Lives Matter from YouTube:

All Lives Matter (Peace House, May 2016)

C. A Unitarian Universalist Minister’s Explanation to a Church Member

This was taken from the Unitarian Universalist Association’s website:

Of course all lives matter. Central to Unitarian Universalism is the affirmation of the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Sadly, our society has a long history of treating some people as less valuable than others. Study after study has confirmed that in equivalent situations, African Americans and Latinos are treated with deadly force far more often than White people, and authorities held less accountable. Unfortunately, racial bias continues to exist even when it is no longer conscious—this too is confirmed by multiple studies. A lack of accountability in the use of force combined with unconscious bias is too often a deadly combination – and one that could place police officers, as well as the public, in great danger.

To say that Black lives matter is not to say that other lives do not; indeed, it is quite the reverse—it is to recognize that all lives do matter, and to acknowledge that African Americans are often targeted unfairly (witness the number of African Americans accosted daily for no reason other than walking through a White neighborhood—including some, like young Trayvon Martin, who lost their lives) and that our society is not yet so advanced as to have become truly color blind. This means that many people of goodwill face the hard task of recognizing that these societal ills continue to exist, and that White privilege continues to exist, even though we wish it didn’t and would not have asked for it. I certainly agree that no loving God would judge anyone by skin color.

As a White man, I have never been followed by security in a department store, or been stopped by police for driving through a neighborhood in which I didn’t live. My African American friends have, almost to a person, had these experiences. Some have been through incidents that were far worse. I owe it to the ideal that we share, the ideal that all lives matter, to take their experiences seriously and listen to what they are saying. To deny the truth of these experiences because they make me uncomfortable would be to place my comfort above the safety of others, and I cannot do that.

I very much appreciate you writing to me, and am glad that we share the goal of coming to a day when people will not be judged, consciously or unconsciously, on the basis of their race. I believe that day is possible, too, but that it will take a great deal of work to get there. That work begins by listening to one another, and listening especially to the voices of those who have the least power in society. If nothing else is clear from the past few weeks, it is painfully evident that a great many people do not believe that they are treated fairly. Healing begins by listening to those voices and stories.

UU Minister Daniel S. Schultz

D. Law Professor’s Response to a Student

There is a lot there so go over there and read it:

Law professor’s response to BLM shirt complaint. (Imgur)

4. Related Links for More Reading

You can believe me if you like, but do not take my word for it. Here are some links for more reading so you get more information on this issue:


We should not judge how well Americans are doing by looking at those with privilege (white people) are doing, but by how the least among us are doing (minorities). Guess what? Those minorities, they are having a really shitty time of it due to police brutality and the fear instilled because of it. The Black’ish clip from above refers to this.

I am not going to even start getting into the racism inherent in the US economic and judicial system, or even the structural violence inherent in capitalism, that just makes makes this issue even worse. Hell, even the Stand Your Ground laws themselves are racist in origin which gives a white person basically a blank slate to murder minorities.

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1 thought on “The Significant Issue and Privilege with the ‘All Lives Matter Movement’

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