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Stop Saying 'All Lives Matter'

Photograph by Twenty20

“Did you take your wallet out of your pocket? Make sure to put your license on the dashboard. Should I just drive instead?”

These are the things I ask my husband before we get in the car to go anywhere—because he’s black in America.

When I see or hear the phrase “all lives matter,” it makes me cringe. That statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Of course, to be sure, we want all lives to matter, but right now—and for a long time—this hasn’t been the case.

Saying "all lives matter" belittles the Black Lives Matter movement and affects my family personally. My husband walks with a target on his back, and soon our kids will, too—just for being black. There’s a growing list of things my family cannot do, or have to proceed with caution in order to do.

Daily activities that some don’t think twice about can be life-or-death situations for my family. I now have to wonder whether it’s safe for my husband to sit in his car studying a book while waiting to go into class. I now have to worry that if my husband’s car breaks down anywhere, day or night, that he might not come home to us. This is especially true now that he's a college student who drives home after night classes. And there are many more situations and names that run through my head each time he leaves home. Will we be the next family to go through this?

Many mistakenly think Black Lives Matter is a group that only wants black lives to be valued, when simply, we’re just asking for black lives to matter just as much as anyone else’s.

This is exactly why the Black Lives Matter movement means so much to my family and why countering with "all lives matter" just doesn’t apply to us.

The danger of being black in America is real. This is our reality. To repeat myself: It’s not to say other lives don’t matter, but rather, to take a stand against the injustices, constant danger and consequences of being black in America. Still, many mistakenly think Black Lives Matter is a group that only wants black lives to be valued, when we’re simply asking for black lives to matter just as much as anyone else’s.

Our kids are 7 and 8 years old and they’re already growing up learning to follow the unsaid rules of survival. When they see other kids run around in stores with their hands in their pockets, they know they cannot. Someone could think they’re stealing. When they want a toy water gun, especially in the summer, they can’t have it. We don’t know who will mistake it for a real gun from afar and put their life in danger by calling the police.

When you say "all lives matter," you’re sending the message to my kids that the life of their daddy and their own lives don’t matter. That it’s OK for us to have to jump through hoops just to survive.

When you say "all lives matter," you’re telling the black community that losing black men, women and children every single day doesn’t matter—that those lives lost don’t matter, that justice for those lost lives doesn't matter.

The next time you think the answer is “all lives matter,” I hope you’ll reconsider. We need everyone, all colors and creeds, to take a stand to ensure that black lives matter, so that saying "all lives matter" will actually be true.

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