What I Meant When I Said “All Lives Matter”

*I realize my perspective is a bit different, as I was raised in a biracial family in a particularly diverse area of California. However, I do believe this position has a place in this conversation.

Edit to add: If you are concerned with my timing on this post, the best time to combat racism was yesterday. The second best time is today. Addressing this topic without, at some point, moving the conversation to racism in general is, in my opinion, much the same as pulling a weed at surface level. The roots remain and the problem continues to grow and spread.

BLM

Black Lives Matter. All Lives Matter. Shot. Blacks. Slain. Cops. Violence. Gunman. America. The recent events have left a tornado of words, swirling around each and every one us. The internet has come alive with voices from every corner. Each post leaving me wanting to unplug from the internet now and forever, but knowing that ignorance has not and will not solve this issue. Each post leaving my heart hurting for the growing loss of innocence in the ones affected the most: the children who will have to live with the decisions and actions, or lack thereof, that are made during this time.

Here’s the thing, I’ve said “All Lives Matter”. Not because I am uncomfortable with “Black Lives Matter”, but because I am all too aware of other minorities, particularly Latinos and Native Americans, who are often overlooked and blatantly ignored and under represented in terms of civil rights. Am I piggybacking off the current African American movement toward awareness and equality? Yeah. It’s a movement that I want to be a part of. It’s way past the time for racism on all ends of the spectrum to be abolished. Am I detracting from the message? I didn’t think so. I thought I was adding to it. When I said, “All Lives Matter,” I wasn’t speaking on behalf of whites, although they are implied to be included, but I was speaking on behalf of those who don’t yet have a hashtag, t-shirt, or growing crowd of indignation to spread their message.

I was speaking out of frustration toward the woman who interviewed a tribal enrolled, raised-on-a-Reservation Native American but turned him down for the tribal position he was over-qualified for by saying, “You are too white for the job, the children won’t accept you.” Since when do we limit children by not expecting them to accept every race with equality? I was speaking about a former half-Mexican co-worker, who was told by a client, surprised at finding out my co-workers heritage, “But you’re a pretty Mexican.”

I was speaking for my racially diverse children, for whom I’m often at a loss of which bubble to fill in: What race are you? Off the top of my head I can think of eight ethnicities. Why do we have to pick one to identify with? Human. They are part of the Human Race. What year is this, anyway? 1950? How is it even 2016 and I feel the need to explain this?

I know people of color are being killed based only on skin color. They are being given harsher punishments than whites for committing the exact same crime. I can only imagine the terror, anger, and despair that causes within their families. I also know members of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota have the lowest life expectancy in the United States, and in the whole Western Hemisphere only Haiti is lower. I don’t want any law abiding citizen to be pulled over for a busted taillight only to be shot and killed; I don’t want teen suicides anywhere to be more than 4x the national rate.

I want “Black Lives Matter” to grow. I want it to spread. I want it to evolve into even more. Let’s fix this for once and for all so all our posterity- black, brown, pink, yellow, green, white– do not have to carry this weight any longer. Because it’s heavy. And it’s time.

Stephanie

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