Sometimes we white folks like to say, “All lives matter,” as though saying “Black lives matter” takes something away from us. Actually, maybe it does; maybe we realize, deep down, it acknowledges and takes away the (unearned) advantages we have.
With chants of “Black lives matter,” protesters acknowledge that black lives have not mattered — not to those of us who have dominated our nation for 400-plus years. Our history begins with slavery and the chains, beatings, rapes, separation of families, subhuman living and working conditions and powerlessness it imposed.
After the Civil War and Reconstruction, we moved on to forced sterilization and “separate but equal” in education and accommodations. We charged poll taxes and developed other means of suppressing black votes.
Next came lynching, cruel scientific experimentation on blacks, red-lining and barriers to union membership and jobs.
Discrimination continues today (as shown by research) in school discipline, employment, commerce, housing, health care, criminal justice, voting rights and day-to-day interactions.
So, let’s stop saying “All lives matter” until we whites prove that all lives actually do matter to us.