Why Your Well-Intended Kindness, in Response to Racism, is Actually Really Harmful -or- The Problem with All Lives Matter

At times, ideas and inspiration strike me in often weird times and I want to have a space to put these thoughts out into the world. Last night as I was washing dishes, this post popped into my head and I knew it was something that I have not explained my feelings behind. So with the context set, allow me to paint a picture for you…

Before I dive too deeply into this let me get one thing out of the way: I know.

I know that the lives of all citizens matter. I know that all people should be treated with dignity and respect. I know that every person that draws breath on this earth is someone who is worthy of being regarded as special and worth fighting for their quality of life.

So what is my point?

This analogy has been used often but I think that it puts into crystal clear understanding that “choose kindness” or saying “all lives matter” is not helpful at all. Okay: Imagine you’re at your house one day just relaxing. When suddenly your neighbor runs in and says “Please help me, my house is on fire!” Instead of offering any type of help you respond with “Well that’s terrible! But my house has a burned out lightbulb in this room upstairs.” Or worse yet, the response is “Come on now, is it really that bad? My house has never been on fire so are you sure it’s something to be worried about? Maybe you’re just making things up.” A response along of those lines would not only show a total lack of empathy towards another person but a really puzzling response to someone who is expressing their desire and desperation for help.

“All Lives Matter” is a phrase coined by those people who are uncomfortable with the Black Lives Matter movement. By this point in our society, there is hopefully little confusion with the goals of saying something like All Lives Matter. It is an attempt to quiet those who are opposed to people protesting racial inequities in this country. I’d like to believe that anyone that says All Lives Matter is not threatened by the idea that people are still oppressed by the basis of their race in the 21st century. However, I feel that is the very notion behind ALM.

Racism and all of the abuse and ugliness that comes with is an uncomfortable topic. Very few people are willing or should be willing to admit they see their race as superior to others. Looking at this from a historical perspective, it is impossible to state a claim like “Black Lives Matter” without wanting to associate the idea that black people want some form of supremacy by that group. That is because historically, white supremacy has been not-so-vaguely disguised as “America First”, “White Pride” and if the saying had been coined during the apex of Jim Crow south “White Lives Matter”. BLM has not a single mention or inkling of supremacy for black people or the mistreatment of white people of any time. The phrase I always come back to is this: “White people should have a problem with Black Lives Matter when the phrase is Black Lives Matter…more. What we are trying to say is Black Lives Matter…too.”

Black Lives Matter is just a way to let people know that the racial disparities that exist between black and white citizens in the America is unacceptable.

Remember, it’s black lives matter TOO. Not black lives matter more.

So what’s wrong with “just being kind”?

The short answer is nothing. Kindness is very important. Kindness is essential.

But kindness is NOT the same as anti-racism or anti-white supremacy. “Just being kind” is not the same as fighting racism. Combating the evils of racism involves education of yourself. Difficult conversations with others. Personal reflection and of course, working like hell to ensure that racism is eradicated from our society. This is a process. A long tiresome process that seems very repetitive, but the work is well worth it if we are willing to stay the course.

Teaching kindness is not to be ignored, and I never want anyone to forget that. There is merit and value in being a kind person and passing along kindness traits to those you come in contact with. Just please remember; kindness is not the same as anti-racism.

“BUT THE BURNING AND LOOTING!”

Simply put, those who do not adhere to the core principals of Black Lives Matter and engage in activities and talk that go in 100% contradiction of the movement, ARE NOT PART OF THE MOVEMENT. The outrage that is used on businesses and buildings destroyed in loots and riots are almost non-existent when the lives of black/brown citizens are snuffed out for next to nothing. Remember, if police can act like this, with some citizens I cannot understand why they do not treat some citizens that way. No I don’t like the burning and looting, but I hate the justified murder of citizens who look like me a lot more.

I have included some resources about anti-racism and Black Lives Matter. Consider checking them out if you want more information, or please feel free to reach out to me. @karob_writes (Twitter/Instagram)

Take Care and Be Well!

-YFBF

RESOURCES:

Black Lives Matter resources

The Problem with All Lives Matter

Milwaukee Independent: BLM

Black Lives Matter- homepage

Who Owns History by Eric Foner

Black Fatigue by Mary-Frances Winters

Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity In A World Made For Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

The Black Friend On Being A Better White Person by Frederick Joseph

The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein

Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi

How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi

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