BLACK VOICES

This Poet Nails Why 'All Lives Matter' Will Always Be A Horrible Argument

Racism is not a thing of the past.

"Just because I own slaves doesn't mean I'm racist."

This is the first line from Anthony McPherson's poem "All Lives Matter: 1800s Edition," which he performed at the 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam in Washington, D.C. He explains, in this powerful poem, why it's impossible to argue that racism is a thing of the past. 

McPherson, in the poem, takes on the persona of a fictional white slaveowner from the 1800s who uses the phrase "all lives matter," which is commonly said in opposition to "Black Lives Matter."

He also expertly dismantles the "colorblindness" argument that many "all lives matter" advocates use to ignore the ways race affects people of color. "I don't even see color," McPherson mockingly said. "You're racist for being slaves."

He then goes on to brilliantly explain how the people who tend to say "all lives matter" often place blame on white ancestors rather than acknowledging the ways in which white people today perpetuate racism. 

"I didn't ask to have all this cotton," McPherson said sarcastically in the poem. "It's not my fault that the cotton is profitable, don't blame me for something my grandfather's grandfather planted." 

Before leaving the stage, McPherson perfectly delivers one last point.

"Free the people? How about we the people. Black lives matter? How about all lives matter?"

 

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