Some people get bothered by the phrase “Black Lives Matter”. Oftentimes they tell me that when they hear Black Lives Matter they feel excluded. The argument is “Black Lives Matter” implies that the lives of non-Blacks don’t matter?

A common retort to Black Lives Matter is that All Lives Matter. The idea is interesting, but I would argue that the All Lives Matter retort is fundamentally deceptive.

First, when I talk with my Black friends and Black clients, I’ve never heard them argue that there is anybody’s life that doesn’t matter. Nor have I ever heard them argue that their lives are more important than someone else’s – white person or not.

But the All Lives retort is not about what Black people think it’s about how white people feel. And, I’m not convinced that the retort is an argument about ALL lives being important. To be more direct, I think the All Lives argument is a shortcut to saying “Here is my rebuttal because I don’t want to think about this topic.”

I’m fine with the “All Lives” argument, but if we are going to have that argument in the world of diversity and inclusion, then we should have it in a way that genuinely and sincerely focuses on the lives of others.

Working with different clients across the country I’ve noticed that each community has unique issues with diversity. For instance, through working with clients in the LGBTQ space I’ve learned that there is a real divide between people who identify as pansexual and those who would label them as bisexual.

It’s a big deal, and even in a community that can be separated from the majority based on their gender and sexual orientation, it is precisely sexual orientation and gender which create a further divide within the community. So if we are focused on all lives, let’s be sure we are spending time understanding the depth and nuance of the issues within the LGBTQ community.

I’ve worked with several clients in South Florida and many tell me they are ahead of the curve with inclusion. They’ve extolled their acceptance of different races and LGBTQ. I felt obliged to ask how they feel about Haitians. Suffice it to say, the room gets pretty quiet.

Many assume that all Latinx people are the same, but there are real differences between Cuban, Haitian, Venezuelan, and Mexican cultures. However, there are large differences in how immigrants from different countries are treated in the US. So, if our fundamental objection to Black Lives Matter is that All Lives Matter, then surely people have studied the differences between immigrants from Central and South America.

Further, within the hearing impaired community, there is a belief among some that people who do not use sign language tend to “hide behind their words.” In contrast, people who use sign language tell much more emotional stories. The body movements of sign language force the storyteller to become involved in what they are saying. Also, did you know that people who use sign language can also have accents? In our quest for All Lives understanding, this is something that we should be diving into as well. Right?

A friend’s son grew up as a female but in his early teens told his parents that he is a boy and always had been. There are many stories about how the school, other students, and other parents responded. You quickly learn how many social situations arise because of gender – it’s a lot more than the simple restroom question.

And the above is far from a complete list. We could talk about Jordanians and Egyptians in Nashville, indigenous people in Oklahoma, or we could talk about people with disabilities who feel compelled to join DE&I committees so that people with disabilities are represented. The list goes on and on and on.

Are you so busy with the issues of these people that you don’t have time for the issues of Black people? Or is it really just BS? Is your issue that all people matter or is it really that you just don’t want to have a conversation about issues affecting the lives of Black people?

Again, let’s just be honest.

Because if all lives mattered, then presumably people would already be spending a lot of time learning about issues and needs of other people (including Black people) because there is a lot to learn.

But let’s be honest. That isn’t what happens.

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