You know, I thought the #BlackLivesMatter versus #AllLivesMatter debate was over. I really did. But, then Beyonce’s Formation music video and Super Bowl performance happened and I found myself talking about it, because people are saying the same ignorant things they did when the hashtags first came out. I found myself wishing I really could be like the “Be like Bill” meme and move on from the thing — or more often, the person — that offends me. But, there is just one problem with that — I’m black.
Now that doesn’t mean whenever the issue of race comes up on my Facebook feed that I have to comment. It doesn’t mean that my opinion is any more valid than another person’s, just because I’m black. But, it does mean that it’ll get a reaction from me, especially lately. I was so angry reading the comments people were making in this second round of “movement” that I changed my cover photo to a picture of a black person being silenced by a white hand, the caption declaring, “What you’re really saying when you say ‘All Lives Matter.’”
I can’t say I know much about being “black,” not that it’s anybody’s business. The person who is responsible for that part of me isn’t the one who raised me. But, I can’t deny that I am black. It’s a part of me. It is there when I have to spend at least an hour brushing the tangles out of my hair. It is the guilt I feel every time I don’t censor out the n-word in hip-hop music. It is every time I can only check “black” on a form, because apparently when it comes to race, one has to be more important than the other.
I don’t understand how some people want to do away with race all together. Race binds us together. My triumphs are not only mine, but of my race. What I overcome becomes part of a rich history of victories. Race gives everyone somewhere to belong. Why is acknowledging that a bad thing? I’m not ashamed of being black. I’m proud. Next you’ll tell me I shouldn’t be proud to be a woman, either.
The reason I get so upset seeing people say “All Lives Matter,” in response to “Black Lives Matter” is because it’s saying black people’s recent suffering by police shouldn’t be acknowledged. As if we are being selfish for crying out for the justice we so desperately need. I don’t agree with that. I think asking for help is just asking for help. People are dying. I’m tired of people thinking that acknowledging the value of our existence is equivalent to thinking we’re more important than others. That is not what we’re saying. In order for all lives to matter, black lives need to matter.
I don’t know if the “Black Lives Matter” versus “All Lives Matter” debate will ever be over. But as long as people are talking about it, I will have something to say. Because my opinion matters, and I will not be silent. I want to talk about the things that are important to me. It’s part of who I am.