All lives cannot matter until BLACK LIVES MATTER. By Jennifer Schellenberg.
Saying “All Lives Matter” is racist. Our elected officials shouldn’t say it and you shouldn’t either.
On Saturday, a group of around 100 people gathered in Albertville to attend an All Lives Matter rally. This group included State Senator Mary Kiffmeyer, State Rep. Paul Novotny, State Senator Bruce Anderson and State Rep. Joe McDonald. According to Rep. McDonald, this rally was about “Racial equality and equal opportunity for all no matter what race or creed or color.”
Black Lives Matter was founded in 2013 by three black women after Trayvon Martin was killed. A local man, Zimmerman, decided that the black teenager walking with his hood up looked “suspicious”, followed him despite the 911 operator repeatedly telling Zimmerman not to, and then shot and killed the boy. Martin was 17 years old and had walked to the store to get a candy bar. After Zimmerman was acquitted, these women decided that they never wanted to see another innocent, unarmed black person murdered and they wanted justice, so they started this rally cry.
The BLM movement is important for all of us to respect and understand, because for the entirety of our American history Black Americans have been treated as though they are of lower value. Despite being taught in school that everything has been equal since Abraham Lincoln and that we (the northerners) are the good guys who fought for equality, Black Americans only truly gained the right to vote in 1915 when a clause that stated one could not vote unless “your grandfather has voted” was struck down. They were unable to attend integrated schools until the 1960s. Even in our great state of Minnesota the Black community and other races (Indigenous, Latino, Jewish) were barred the opportunity to buy property through racist clauses until 1965 in many areas.
Now, with the aid of technology, we are seeing unarmed men of color murdered mercilessly in our streets: George Floyd, Thurman Blevins, Kobe Heisler, Philando Castille to name a few. And the rally cry gets louder as we see no justice for these senseless killings. To this date, the only police officer ever to be held accountable for murdering a civilian in Minnesota was a Muslim man who killed a white woman, Justine Damond. Her family was also paid the largest settlement in Minnesota history from a police related homicide.
So the question is: Have we, as a society, shown that “All Lives Matter”? Absolutely not. Until we see reform and accountability in our criminal justice system, equal education budgets in school districts that teach diverse groups of students, equal housing opportunities and equal medical care then we have not shown our black and brown communities that their lives matter. THIS is the charge of these elected officials, to make the phrase that they like to tout a reality.
In the meantime, using the phrase “All Lives Matter” only serves to diminish and suppress the voices of Black people who are challenging the status quo. Professor Olivette Otele, Professor of the History of Slavery is quoted saying on the subject that, “Pain associated to specific context is unique because of what led to those moments. Certain comparisons are highly insensitive.” and that using the phrase “All Lives Matter” is “ignorance at its core”.
All lives cannot matter until BLACK LIVES MATTER.
Wright County deserves better representation than those listed above. We deserve representatives who recognize the work that still needs to be done and who refuse to stand beside folks holding the rebel flag, a vestige of our war against slavery. Luckily each one of the aforementioned representatives has a qualified opponent running against them.
If you truly believe that all lives matter, say it with your vote- for a future where all lives will be treated as though they matter.
Written by Jennifer Schellenberg. Thank you, Jennifer!