Counteracting the All Lives Matter Movement.

  • Unless you have been living under a rock, you are all probably aware of the terrible and barbaric murder of George Floyd, known as ‘Big Floyd’ to his friends and family. News surfaced around his murder when a video of him emerged being cruelly detained and restricted by police, despite shouting he couldn’t breathe.

    Despite the barbarity and cruel nature of his arrest, there has been a significant minority that have chosen to detract from his experiences and devalue the Black Lives Matter movement. This has been the All Lives Matter Movement.

    The All Lives Matter movement is a movement with many aims and focuses, and are often very misinformed at that. Rather than acknowledging the systematic barriers that black people face when faced with institutions like the police, the All Lives Matter movement seeks to placate the Black Lives Matter movement, by emphasising the rhetoric that white lives matter too.

    This narrative is fuelled by an arsenal of misinformation. This thus brings around the important question of how do we stop the spread of misinformation, and educate the masses on the necessity for a movement like Black Lives Matter.

    Subsequently, starting a dialogue is the key to educating people and avoiding misinformation. However, the reality of the situation pertains to the issue that often there are times where a dialogue begins to become insufficient. In her critically acclaimed work Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race”, author Reni Eddo-Lodge discusses her frustrations regarding the narratives of race in Britain being dominated by people with little experience of race, racism and its effects. The book explores the concept and reality of the fact that often, everyday micro-aggressions concerning race do more to harm movements than evoke truly meaningful discussions about race.

    There is no one size fits all approach to discussing the issue of race, as the topic is emotionally and structurally laden.

    Angela Davis, for example, is a scholar who is crucial in her analysis of the pervasive nature of racism within contemporary society. She does offer an insight into the All Lives Matter conundrum, but from a very different perspective. She analyses the concept of racism concerning ethnic minority communities outside the black community. She is quoted as saying:

    Black lesbians matter, black Trans lives matter, black immigrants matter, black incarcerated lives matter, black different able lives matter. Yes, black lives matter. But do you know Asian American, Native American, Muslim, poor and working class white people’s lives matter.

    Here Davis is offering a unique perspective to the All Lives Matter viewpoint, which is important and must not be ignored. Her role is to not placate the Black Lives Matter movement and detract from their racialized experiences. Rather, Davis is emphasising that within the hegemony of the white, imperialist, capitalist and patriarchal infrastructures of our society, all the lives of marginalised people need to be accounted for. This viewpoint is unique and incredibly different to the often racially-charged sentiments of the All Lives Matter movement.

    Another dilemma with the All Lives Matter movement is the lack of information surrounding its terrain, with many ‘alternative facts’ emerging from the movement. This is most notable in the arguments concerning slavery. Time and time again I have witnessed many people within the All Lives Matter movement advocate on behalf of the cause for white slavery and it’s past. This is a dangerous argument, as often the rhetoric is fuelled by alt-right politics centred on inaccurate versions of history. The reality is that slavery has existed for centuries, and white slavery did exist. The original slaves were said to be the Slavs, causing the origin of the word slave; a deviation of the word Slav. However, this argument fails to recognise the imperialist nature surrounding black slavery and the levels of violence that accompanied it. The onslaught of slavery emerged from a belief of white superiority based on the perceived inferiority of blacks and Africans.

    Furthermore, the movement does little to recognise the need for a Black Lives Matter, by failing to acknowledge the history of the black community. When starting a dialogue I have often felt the need to remind people about the rich history offered by the black community and how imperialist structural barriers have led to the silencing of many black voices. An example of this would be how prolific poet and scholar Audre Lorde only came to my attention after studying her at a Master’s Level degree. Black feminist voices are often silenced due to the structural barriers put in place by the white hegemony of society. Furthermore, when intersections such as feminism are added into the mix, these voices become even more silenced as they refrain from the status quo, set in place by society.

    The solution to these problems is to break down barriers imposed by society. There are many steps to take in doing this. Starting a dialogue is key, but as aforementioned, knowing how and when to do so is also key. This dialogue can be initiated through protest, as we have seen with the waves of protest all across America. Writing and educating is also an option, which is why I am writing here today. These actions will never silence the All Lives Matter movement, but we hope to inspire change by revolutionising thoughts and narratives.

    To the All Lives Matter movement, I would say this. Did the necessity for your movement arise out of genuine hardship, or a need to heard amidst the voices of black protest? Once this question can be answered, a true and engaging dialogue can be made.