Love Makes a Bridge: Why Black Lives Matter (And not “All Lives Matter”)

Thanks to Steve Babb for sending in this collection of considerations.  As I reflect on them, I consider them as a way of building bridges–into my own consciousness and conscience and into the reality of fellow Americans about whom I remain ignorant.  I invite you to use them for such personal reflection and bridge building.

Bob Patrick

  • Because no one in a position of power in this country’s history has ever systematically questioned whether white lives matter.
  • Because the statement “All lives matter” is so innocuous as to be meaningless and distracts us from the urgent need to confront the specific and especially lethal brand of injustice that is being visited upon our African American brothers and sisters.
  • Because white racism towards African Americans is the seminal fatal flaw of our country, continues to the current day, and has never been fully acknowledged and addressed.
  • As an example, almost 600 lynchings of African Americans occurred in Georgia, but only one lynching site is commemorated by a historical marker, and no one has been convicted or accepted responsibility for these lynchings to these days, despite many lynchings having been committed before large crowds.
  • As another example, it took South Carolina and Alabama until 1998 and 2000, respectively, to amend their constitutions to remove provisions making interracial marriages illegal. In both cases, about 40% of voters in these referendums voted to retain the prohibition on interracial marriage.
  • Because African Americans are uniquely discriminated against and their lives are uniquely endangered.
  • Because young African American men are uniquely at risk of death every time they encounter the police.
  • Because the cards are still uniquely stacked against African Americans in this society, and they continue to be uniquely disadvantaged by past and present social, economic, and legal discrimination.
  • Because institutional racism and entrenched white privilege are in a far greater position to do harm to African Americans than African Americans are to do harm to white Americans.
  • Because it’s high time for whites to acknowledge and show solidarity with the indignities, fear, and pain that our African American sisters and brothers experience on a daily basis.
  • Because we will never fulfill this country’s founding principles and become whole as a society until we face up to and address our racism and the toll that it continues to take on African Americans, and on all of us.
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4 Responses to Love Makes a Bridge: Why Black Lives Matter (And not “All Lives Matter”)

  1. Peggy Averyt says:

    Very good list of reasons. Thanks Steve.

  2. Richard Stahnke says:

    First off I believe that black lives matter. But to make the statement that not all live matter is just as ignorant as the people that are racist and derogatory to any life. You are not part of any solution when you cant say all lives matter. You ate insighting more racism by any radical that reads the opening line.

    • Bob Patrick says:

      Richard, thank you for your response. I want to point out what I think is a technical and compositional problem here. No one has written that “not all lives matter.” What we have tried to indicate is that the needed message right now is “Black lives matter” and not “All lives matter.” I tried to use the quotation marks to indicate that, and I see now that that may have not communicated what I wanted. In other words, there are reasons why “All lives matter” is not a helpful message. The two posts, yesterday and today (and quite frankly, for the rest of the week) attempt to unfold that.

      Our first UU principle is the inherent dignity and worth of every human being. That clearly applies to all human beings.

    • Yes, all lives matter. They do, and inherent in that statement is that black lives are among those that matter. If black lives don’t matter, it makes the statement All Lives Matter false, and therein lies the problem.

      It’s a given (or at least it should be) that life, itself, matters, that each and every individual life has value, inherent worth, dignity. But our society, our (dis)functional system, seems to forget that black lives matter just as much as all others, and that, unfortunately, is what makes the reminder necessary, and what makes the statement “All Lives Matter” as a response to the statement “Black Lives Matter” a meaningless distraction.

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