After the ambush murder of three Baton Rouge officers, DeRay Mckesson told CNN, "My heart goes out to the victims of all violence. We want to live in a world where people don't die by gunfire. And we want to live in a world where police don't have militarized weapons and the public doesn't have access to these militarized weapons either."
Mckesson said that Black Live Matter "has always been rooted in a call to end violence and ... that call remains the call today. ... It's this interesting thing that people are frustrated that black people are focusing on the unique trauma that black people are facing in this country," he remarked. "And I would never go to a breast cancer rally and yell out colon cancer matters."
I do not believe that "Black Lives Matter" and "All Lives Matter" are necessarily incompatible. "All Lives Matter" is not necessarily a way to divert attention from the urgent concerns of African-American people. In order for there to be some compatibility between the two expressions, however, it is necessary to acknowledge the legitimacy of the particular concern for the lives of People of Color. This is not something all Americans recognize.
If I am secure in my comfortable home with my family on a cold winter night with the fireplace burning and more than enough to eat, my life matters. But the doorbell rings and there is a shivering, starving homeless family at the door in dire need of food and shelter. I tell them to find a shelter. They respond, "Our lives matter." I say, "So does mine and my family's." But I quickly realize that, in that instance, it is their lives and not mine that are in peril.
If you simply say "All Lives Matter," there is a danger of falsely implying that every group of Americans is facing the same degree of peril which then makes it possible to ignore or deny pressing issues like the frequent violent and fatal treatment of African-Americans in the face of minor or suspected misconduct. They seem to be tried, convicted and sentenced to death on the streets. Aggrieved individuals and groups feel that those who say "All Lives Matter!" do not really mean it. They point to George Orwell's "Animal Farm." In the novel "All animals are equal" became, "All animals are equal. But, some animals are more equal than others!" The point of Black Lives Matter is that many in the African-American community face existential threats that must not be ignored.
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This should also mean that "Black Lives Matter" should not be silent about the significant number of young African-American males who die at the hands of other African-Americans, or the alarmingly high number of abortions that bring abrupt ends to nascent Black lives that matter. There also must be a repudiation of any form of violence against White people, specifically, police officers. Ultimately, there must beat least a tacit recognition that there are other vulnerable, marginalized groups in the country whose lives also matter. Elie Wiesel, 87, died July 2, 2016. The Nobel Laureate and survivor of Buchenwald and Auschwitz is best known for his tireless efforts to call the world's attention to the horrors of Jewish suffering during the Nazi Holocaust. "Jewish Lives Matter!" At the same time, he was a champion of the human rights of suffering and oppressed people around the world.
On July 8, 2016, the day after the Dallas shootings, Baton Rouge Officer Montrell Jackson, 32, an African-American and one of three officers slain in the July 17, 2016 ambush, left the world this moving message: "I'm tired physically and emotionally...I swear to God I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat. I've experienced so much in my short life and these last three days have tested me to the core... I personally want to send prayers out to everyone directly affected by this tragedy. These are trying times. Please don't let hate infect your heart."
Every Catholic knows from the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that all lives matter. However, a hasty assertion of this universal truth obscures the sad truth that People of Color have often not been included as a part of "all lives." Tragically, this goes back to the Declaration of Independence, which makes no mention of People of Color because Thomas Jefferson's tortured, complex, and contradictory paragraph on the "buying," "owning," and "selling" of free human beings was deleted from the final draft.