If All Lives Honestly Mattered: Understanding Microinvalidation

With Black Lives Matter comes All Lives Matter, and we have to constantly check ourselves and others. The movements of black people and other people of color have never come without resistance and making waves, and we see that in various forms, from all types of people, even allies and people of color. I’m going to address my views on this and I’m going to give my view of the most recent outburst of Black Lives Matter and Bernie Sanders. Black Lives Matter started in 2012 after the death of Trayvon Martin, and since then it has spread across the country. It has taken on the tactics of other grassroots movements, and has interrupted and attempted to help eliminate the issue of police brutality, that disproportionately effects the black community. The black lives matter movement has focused on lifting up the black community and breaking free from the institutional racism that plagues our country.

With every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The reaction in this case is All Lives Matters, which aims to let everyone know that we are all human beings and we all matter as people, which makes Black Lives Matter irrelevant. The terms All Lives Matter has been used by people who promote the “solution” for racism that is color-blindness.

Whether you agree with the methods of the Black Lives Matter movement or not, you should be able to understand that as well-intentioned as someone is, saying All Lives Matter only silences the voices of those in pain, and furthermore it is a lie. When I first heard someone use color blindness as a way to negate racism, I was a little puzzled. We are biologically one race, yes, but socially, race is a very real thing. Race was a barrier put in place to organize people and to categorize them, and these categories aren’t equal across the board. Race has been used as justification for the murdering of groups of people and the stealing of others’ land. It has been used to put down people in ways that affect them no matter how hard they try. By denying race, you deny the culture that goes along with it. It’s saying that you have to be white, because being of color is not comfortable with the other person, and must therefore be erased temporarily. Race has its bad connotations, but it also has its good ones, and by erasing it you erase the achievement and milestones of others. In addition, it makes it impossible to target possible correlations with conditions that disproportionately affect one race over another in a way that isn’t fair.

If all lives really mattered, then why do we continue to have all these injustices? How is it that people have to go without medicine that they need because they don’t have enough of green paper that holds no physical value? Why is it that we can allow ourselves to go on with our daily lives saying all lives matter when we have the hungry, the homeless. We have people who cannot receive the help that they need because people don’t want to give “handouts.” If all lives mattered, they wouldn’t be handouts. They would be ways to build our nations and our world, and would unify the country that we live in. It wouldn’t matter if someone had money to get the basic necessities of human life that we take advantage of every day.

With the Black Lives Matter movement interrupting a second event where Bernie Sanders was supposed to speak, I have seen mixed thoughts. There are people who are adamantly for it, people who are against it, people who are in the middle about it, and people who don’t care about it in any way. At first, I was one of those people who were against the takeover. At first glance, I thought, well this is the second time, maybe we should give him a chance to speak, let him redeem himself from last time, and both voices could have been heard. It was a valid opinion, but my opinion changed when I considered a few things.

For starters, Bernie Sanders, despite public voicing of his opinion of caring about the black community, has not met up with any of the black movement groups behind the scenes throughout his campaign trail. What he says publicly does not match his less public actions, other than him going on the March on Washington decades back. Don’t get me wrong. I believe Bernie is the most progressive candidate and has the best chance of getting most of the minority votes, but he still has a long way to go. Just because someone went on a march awhile ago makes him a good ally. An ally needs to be constantly speaking out for the people he’s supporting, especially if he wants them to vote him in office. One good action does not make you set for people of color community. We need to know what your goals are now, what you actually plan to do now to help. Which he has come up with a plan since, so I do applaud him on that, though I wish it were a little more self motivated.

Secondly, these women did not shut the event down. It was a white man who was afraid of the momentum of the activists and was afraid to face the reality that isn’t pretty. Black women have often been silenced, both outside and inside the community, as I have mentioned in an earlier blog post. Black women, both cis and trans, have often faced sexism and misogyny, and their voices often go unheard, especially in government. If we took the time to hear out the demographics that are often ignored, perhaps they wouldn’t feel the need to interrupt a campaign event, but until then, my support is going to go to my black sisters out of solidarity and respect.

What do you think? Should they have acted out, or should they have let Bernie speak first?

-JW

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