‘All Lives Matter’ Is True, But Not Helpful: Here’s Why

One of the most common responses to the Black Lives Matter movement and the phrase itself is to insist that, to you, ALL lives matter. On the surface, this seems like a great response and even more inclusive than the original. However, there are some really good reasons why “All lives matter” isn’t necessarily helpful to the cause and why people say “Black lives matter” instead.

Here are some of them!

When people say “Black lives matter,” they don’t mean that ONLY Black lives matter.

Instagram | @blklivematter

One of the most common misconceptions about the Black Lives Matter movement is that it is implying that only Black lives matter or that Black lives are more important than any other life. This is not true at all!

The phrase “Black lives matter” is specifically pointing out Black lives because it is Black lives at the center of the issues being faced. When someone says they’re marching for a cure for breast cancer, you don’t interrupt them to tell them that “ALL cancers matter,” — of course they do! But the march is focusing on breast cancer specifically. This movement works the same way. You can check out this article here for a more in-depth look at this!

Saying “all lives matter” draws attention away from the issues that need our attention.

Instagram | @blklivesmatter

Keegan-Michael Key did a great job explaining this one when talking to James Corden about the Black Lives Matter movement:

“It’s like saying the fire department should spray down all houses in a neighborhood even if only one house is on fire because all the houses matter. And yes, your house does matter 100 percent, but your house is not on fire.”

This is a great analogy, because we can all understand that when a house is on fire, that house needs more attention. When Black lives are the ones at risk, they need more attention too!

Saying “all lives matter” downplays the significance of what Black people are going through.

Like Michael Che shows in this clip, sometimes trying to be more inclusive can actually be hurtful, like in his example where if a hurt spouse asks you if you love them, instead replying that you love everybody can actually be cruel! People are asking that we specifically acknowledge that Black lives matter, and generalizing about all lives sweeps that request under the rug.

So what does this mean? Are you a bad person for having said “All lives matter?”

Instagram | @blklivesmatter

Of course not! If all lives matter to you, including Black lives, then we are already on the same team. Part of being human is learning, growing, and adapting — this includes our language. It’s not shameful or embarrassing to not know something or not understand something. We all have to learn somewhere! The only embarrassing thing is when someone refuses to learn, grow, or adapt.

If you want to get involved and show support for the cause, check out this article for more information.