December 4, 2016

Letter to the Editor: Say all lives matter, but do they really?

By Mia Malcolm

Picture it: America, 1492. Columbus sailed the ocean blue. It was such a beautiful meeting for native peoples, filled with genocide and syphilis. Fast forward about 130 years and we celebrated the first Thanksgiving, where we broke bread with Native Americans, sat with them, murdered them and stole their land. #AllLivesMatter.

Picture it: America, December 7, 1941. Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and America rallied to defend our great country by putting all Japanese Americans in concentration camps. Hey, let us show that all lives matter by taking American citizens, locking them up, torturing and starving them because they resemble the enemy. #AllLivesMatter.

Maybe I am wrong; maybe these are just isolated incidents in the past. Maybe this is America of the past, not today’s America.

Picture it: America, September 11, 2001. Americans watched as two planes ran into the Twin Towers in New York City, another hit the Pentagon in D.C. and the last one crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Nineteen militants, associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda, killed over 3,000 innocent American citizens. 

Then we watched as Middle Eastern and Muslim people (or anyone perceived to be Middle Eastern or Muslim) were treated as terrorists. While their neighborhoods were targeted, they were called terrorists, physically assaulted and some killed like they were not American citizens. Like they were one of the 19. Like they did not have loved ones who died when those towers fell. But hey, #AllLivesMatter.

As a black woman in America, I find it repulsive that I would even need to bring up slavery and the systematic genocide of African American and black people in this country. I find it repulsive that any person would yell #AllLivesMatter when racism is still alive and very well in the U.S.

When the president of the United States of America receives death threats, not due to his policies or politics, but because he is a black man. When a white man can walk into a church and murder, in cold blood, nine people coming together to worship. #AllLivesMatter my ass.

Historically in this country we, people of color, have been taught that our lives do not matter. It is a lesson that we continue to learn as our sons are used for target practice and our schools are denied funding. But hey, let us take a break from all of that.

This is not, for me, the only problem with #AllLivesMatter. The slogan was created in response to #BlackLivesMatter, but why? What is it about people saying that their lives matter, or their sons’, daughters’, mothers’, fathers’, sisters’ or brothers’ lives matter? Why is it something you feel the need to have a rebuttal for? Do you disagree? Do black lives not matter?

We live in a country where my ancestors were enslaved, where they were chained, whipped, raped and murdered. Our country was built on the backs, blood, sweat and tears of my ancestors, and yet you are somehow offended when I remind you that #BlackLivesMatter?

We live in a country where it was written into the U.S. Constitution that I was three-fifths of a person. Three-fifths. Yet you are still offended that we shout BLACK LIVES MATTER.

I live in a country where my parents and grandparents were sprayed with water hoses, had dogs let loose on them, were brutally beaten by police if they used certain restrooms or were seen in certain neighborhoods, and saw their friends and some family hung in trees. Strung up in trees and urinated on, used for target practice.

Even if we take a break from race relations, a part of me wonders if you really believe it when you say that all lives matter. I think that if you took a step back and really thought about it you would see that all lives do not really matter to you. If you can answer yes to the following questions then maybe I will start to believe you:

Do rapists’ lives matter? Do terrorists’ lives matter? Do pedophiles’ lives matter? What about all the people sentenced to death waiting for their lethal injections; do their lives matter? Or do they reside with the minorities outside of the all? Think it over, I will wait.

So yeah, I think it is beyond important that you realize that black lives matter. I do not apologize for wanting the majority to understand that I deserve to be treated like more than three-fifths of a person. I do not apologize for wanting the majority to recognize that times are a-changing, and BLACK LIVES MATTER.

We spout cliches like, “liberty and justice for all,” “innocent until proven guilty,” “land of the free,” “we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal,” “all lives matter.”

Yep, let us continue this lie, America. I am sure the rest of us will not notice that “all” does not include us.

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