All lives should matter - but they don't. And if you're black in America, the message is often clear and consistent that your humanity is fleeting at best and, at worse, flat out denied.
Once again my social media accounts have been flooded in recent days with heartbreaking and evocative photos, videos and commentary surrounding the latest reports of African American men gunned down or roughed up by law enforcement officers. That comes on the heels of the lesser known recent news account: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper released http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/new-videos-photos-and-documents-provide-fresh-look-at-st/article_e0530fba-5db7-500e-9b31-3dd4512fe5bc.html new videos, photos and documents that it claims provides a more "complete picture" and "fresh look" at the 2011 case of a 24-year-old black man shot and killed at the hand of a St. Louis police officer now charged with murder.
While the investigations into these latest cases ensue, they once again, ignite a fury and frustration that I, and many others, have felt when pundits (like New Jersey Governor and former Republican presidential candidate hopeful Chris Christie and actress-turned-talk-show co-host Raven-Symone, to name a few) have the audacity to respond to the bourgeoning Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement by asserting, "all lives matter."
It's a telling statement that speaks to the rampant insensitivity that pervades among some opponents of this movement, many who've been conspicuously quiet lately, but were quite vocal when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick opted to express his American right, yes right, to protest during the national anthem. As gospel-rap artist Lecrae reportedly lamented on Twitter: "Take a knee...people riot. Take a bullet...people quiet."
To those who continue to insult and, quite frankly, trample on the humanity of the legions of people color and other marginalized groups who live with the very real fear of becoming the next Sandra Bland or Philando Castille - ending up in a body bag after a routine traffic stop - it's time you get educated about what BLM is about and, what it is not. To start with, stop saying, all lives matter.
Be clear. Black Lives Matter is not a statement; it's a response - a passionate response to hard facts, real reports and disturbing statistics that seem to communicate that the color of your skin can and often does correspond directly with how much you're valued - or devalued - in this country. It's a sobering reality in current-day America, a nation touted as being founded on the principle that "all men are created equal." Many are still waiting on Lady Liberty to make good on her promise.
In short, the subtext - the addendum, if you will - of the Black Lives Matter mantra actually is: Black Lives Matter Too. Though not directly stated, that short, three-letter word, which according to Webster's Dictionary means "likewise; also; in addition," to is inferred. Its inclusion explains a foundational principle for the overarching BLM movement.
As President Obama previously stated, Black Lives Matter is about addressing "a specific problem that is happening in the African-American community that's not happening in other communities." And that, added POTUS, "is a legitimate issue that we've got to address." He's right.
To Black Lives Matters leaders and supporters who understand that ever important too, I say press on, keep speaking your truth and don't be deterred by misinformed and divisive naysayers who repeat rhetoric while - and because - their humanity, and that of those who look and live like them, remains solidly and undeniably intact.
The phrase Black Lives Matter is a battle cry, a heartfelt response, an ultimatum demanding that black people - as should all people - be extended the same rights, privileges and, well, humanity, as any other group, white or otherwise.
All lives do matter and we all hope that to be true in our lifetime. Until that glorious day however, know that those words only deserve to be uttered when more compelling evidence exists that America is truly place that upholds "liberty and justice for ALL."