It has become popular in America to say “All Lives Matter” and yet most people who say it do not really believe it. Let me explain. People who support the death penalty cannot honestly raise the banner “All Lives Matter!” People who say, “We must kill and defeat the terrorists” cannot claim they believe “All Lives Matter!” It’s easy and popular to say “All Lives Matter” but how many people really believe and would support the intrinsic value of unrepentant, serial killers’ lives? Are the people who claim this slogan all pacifists? I imagine they are not. So, let’s face the fact that many people who say it, do not really believe that “All Lives Matter!”
So, which lives really do matter?
Do not misunderstand me. As a minister I preach about the inherent worth and dignity of all people. I believe that all people are children of God and we are part of one human family. I would normally be ecstatic to hear so many people affirming unequivocally that “All Lives Matter!”
When I was advocating for gay and lesbian equality, so people could marry and adopt and avoid job discrimination, I wished there were so many people who affirmed the value of gay and lesbian lives. When I have advocated for laws to support the safety and equality of transgender people, I sadly, did not hear many rallying to affirm that transgender lives matter equally to other lives. As I have been making the case that we should not ban Muslim refugees from entry into the USA nor profile American Muslims, I have not felt the kind of support for the value of all lives that so many claim today.
Recently, dear friends of mine, who happen to be Caucasian, almost lost their son to suicide. When they realized his life might be in jeopardy, they moved heaven and earth to save and protect him. Their terror, when they thought their son could die, was what I would expect of any parent.
Move heaven and earth.
Tragically, fear for their children’s lives is the existential terror that so many parents and grandparents of Black children in America feel today due to repeated, ongoing and frequent examples of Black men, women and children unnecessarily being killed by the police. The impact on Black American lives of the response to hurricane Katrina and, more recently, when lead was poisoning the water system near Detroit, provide other painful examples that prompt the question, “Do Black lives really matter equally in America?” and if so, “Why do these things keep happening?”
Many Black Americans are saying that it feels dangerous to be Black in America right now. These fellow Americans are asking the rest of the country to stand with them and acknowledge their plight. All Americans are being asked to join in creating reforms that would help change this tragic and untenable situation.
It is time for all Americans to come together, to move heaven and earth to ensure none of us have to live with such a sense of terror for the lives of our Black children, family members. and friends.
Why, if we agree that all lives matter, can’t we then stand up and say to our fellow Americans, “Yes I agree that Black lives matter and I will be in solidarity with you and anyone else to make sure Black people know their lives matter to me and to our nation?” Is this really too much to ask? It seems to me it is the only humane and compassionate and just response right now.
If you really believe all lives matter in general, then now is the time to get specific.
Because so many of our Black sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers are asking for your support.
Please consider how you can support the movement to ensure Black lives matter equally in this country by working to end systemic racism in all aspects of American life —from the criminal justice system, to education, to water quality, and beyond.
As we do find ways to support, we must and will only and always advocate for change non-violently and with respect for all lives.