Your voice matters.
Since NFL star Colin Kaepernick began protesting police violence, by taking a knee during the National Anthem, fifteen more black lives have been taken during encounters with the police.
40 year-old Terence Crutcher was one of the many lives lost in conflicts with police. Crutcher was unarmed, and had his hands held over his head when he was shot and killed. The investigation is ongoing.
Murders like Crutcher's have become horrifically routine. Now more than ever we need action and support like that created by the Black Lives Matter movement. This seems like common sense, and yet it's still totally normal to hear people snidely say that "all lives matter" when confronted with the atrocities being perpetrated on black Americans.
It's really tempting to ignore these people, to cut them out of our lives. But, as allies, the better choice is to try and engage them in a conversation if we can.
I asked my friends on Facebook to share what they would say to people who said "all lives matters" when they were trying to support Black Lives Matter and here are their 13 perfect responses:
1. Saying 'all lives matter' is like me breaking my arm and going to the doctor and him saying 'all bones matter'. Sure, okay, but there's just one that needs your help right now."
2. "I say that to these people that if one day I could just run up in your grandmother's funeral and yell "my grandma died too, people lose grandma's every day" then maybe you would know what it feels like to hear someone say 'all lives matter' after a black tragedy."
3. "I share this sign in this photograph:"
4. "I show them this cartoon, it perfectly sums up why Black Lives Matter is important:"
5. "I tell them that it's like not understanding why there's a gay pride parade and not a straight pride parade — because every single damn day is straight pride."
6. "Just make them read these five paragraphs."
7. "Compare it to cancer - if i promote breast cancer awareness, it doesn't mean we should ignore prostate cancer or lung cancer."
8. "Agree with them. Yes, all lives DO matter! Right at this moment we're going to focus on some black ones, because they don't seem to be getting equal treatment."
9. "When you say 'all lives matter' you are removing the plight of black people from your language and continuing an cultural, deadly erasure."
10. "People use "all lives matter" to ignore the black lives matter movement, which is already about liberty and justice for all."
11. "My brother's a cop, my father's a cop, both of them think 'all lives matter' is an evil thing to say. They are just as furious as everyone else I know that unarmed black men are being murdered by cops and getting away with it. If they can see why all lives matter is racist, no one else has any excuse."
12. "Get the fuck outta here with that."
13. "I have taken to just saying over and over and OVER that an act of emphasis is not the same as an act of exclusion."
14. "I personally am a fan of 'save the rainforest does not = f*ck all other trees'"
I included number 12 as a joke, but I'll be honest, it's the one I tend to go to lately. I need to be better about that, because as infuriating as it is that we even need to be having a conversation about protecting the lives of black men and women in 2016, it's more important to have the dialogue.
Some people are racist because they are ignorant. Some simply come from a place of hate. Some of those people you can reason with, some of them you can't.
If you aren't a POC (person of color) that doesn't mean your voice shouldn't be heard. We need to speak up as advocates and allies, talking to other white people whose racism keeps them from engaging. And we need to share the stories we hear, and read work written by black writers. And we can never stop working to make real change.