I've never been a supporter of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter or much of the associated hashtag activism. For many in this millennial generation, simply changing one's Facebook profile picture, sending out a tweet with a trending hashtag or sharing the latest story which affirms their outrage (though at times justified) is the sum total of their contribution. Such behavior is lazy, disingenuous and ill-conceived in generating momentum for a movement. A well-timed status update rant largely does nothing other than massage one's ego and tricks the person into believing he/she has "done their part in the struggle."
Let me be abundantly clear, I've never been a supporter of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Its use set in motion the predictable and invariable response; distracting from the central issue. From the very beginning, more time has been spent debating the efficacy and accuracy of #BlackLivesMatter vs. #AllLivesMatter. The result has been wasted resources and wasted social capital; surrounding a faux debate as to which hashtag is more socially acceptable. I too am now guilty of feeding the monster. Nonetheless, my method will hopefully end this madness.
For what it's worth...
#AllLivesMatter is to say that everyone is of equal value; everyone shares equally in the burden, responsibility and most importantly the pain. It denies inequity altogether. It (not-so-coincidentally) is the response offered by those who mostly have not been touched by ANY of the issues raised by #BlackLivesMatter.
#AllLivesMatter in response to unlawful police behavior is to say that everyone shares in the danger of police brutality, including women and children. It implies that every child is as susceptible to falling victim to unlawful police behavior as mine.
That is not true and never has been.
#AllLivesMatter is to say that everyone is equally as concerned about the death of Samuel DuBose in Cincinnati as they are about anyone who doesn't look like Samuel DuBose or share similar life experiences.
Tell me this is the case. Lie to me if you dare. Tell me that DuBose's death you did see, pained you at least as much as the death of Cecil the Lion which you didn't see. Say it to me with a straight face.
#AllLivesMatter is to suggest that those kidnapped and slain by Boko Haram the same week as those in the Charlie Hebdo massacre are of equal value and we'd walk arm-in-arm in support of the former, not just the latter...even though we didn't.
#AllLivesMatter would have us believe that Hollywood's elite from Mia Farrow to Jimmy Kimmel would both get angry and choked up respectively about 12-year-old Tamir Rice being gunned down in a park as they did over a lion in Africa. Or, at least acknowledge that their emotional responses for the animal which would gladly kill both of them were misplaced and disproportionate. And just FYI, Cecil the Lion lived longer than Tamir Rice.
#AllLivesMatter (if true) would mean that there wouldn't be a disconnect from those who claim to be "Pro-Life," angry over the very existence of Planned Parenthood, yet indifferent to seeing a man shot in the face by a police officer over a front license plate or running away. The time has come to highlight the difference between being "Pro-Zygote," and "Pro-Life." They are not the same.
Believe it or not, we were all zygotes. How some lives seem to matter less after birth, I'm not exactly sure. Maybe someone who is "Pro-Life" can tell you why.
The world around us offers little evidence of #AllLivesMatter to be true. The point of #BlackLivesMatter is to convey the specific group of people who do not enjoy the support, protection or respect of the world. The evidence is found in the petitions in support of Cecil the Lion and not #SandraBland.
No, #NotAllLivesMatter. It's just not true.
#AllLivesMatter denies the discrepancy between condemning President Obama's remarks regarding Trayvon Martin as divisive" and "race-baiting" while also praising presidential candidate Donald Trump's remarks on Mexicans and Latinos as "refreshing," "honest" or "telling it like it is." We'd rather believe and accept that Latino immigrants (illegal or otherwise) are mostly rapists and criminals than that President Obama might actually identify with the consequences of racial stereotyping.
#NotAllLivesMatter...is that better now? Is that less offensive for the offended?
No, not all lives matter or are treated as such. #AllLivesMatter is aspirational and distracts from the issues at hand. Those who use #BlackLivesMatter are screaming to get your attention to highlight these simple truths.
Is the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter inartful?
But this wasn't ever about being politically correct. This was always about afflicting the comfortable while comforting the afflicted. THAT is the foundation of social justice.
Instead, those who use #AllLivesMatter choose to argue about the wallpaper and packaging of the movement, instead of its merits...thus proving the point.
I wouldn't want anyone who is about the business of trying to shine a light on the issue of unlawful police behavior to engage in dishonest messaging. Not everyone is liable to be killed after an encounter with police. Not everyone is likely to end up hanged in a jail cell (3 at a time in a week no less) and have most of America respond with indifference. And after it happens, not everyone is going to offer equitable concern. Sharing in the hashtag but not the danger and subsequent pain and is both dishonest and offensive. (Insert cultural appropriation arguments here.)
Once again, I've never been a supporter of hashtag activism or specifically the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. It has bogged us down in fruitless endeavors of having to fight to merely explain the obvious, as opposed to dealing with the realities of unlawful police behavior. Too much time (including right now) is spent having to justify a hashtag, as opposed to ensuring liberty and justice for all.
But...I get it (the hashtag). I understand it. Maybe I need to be the conduit for you to get it too.
#AllLivesMatter implies, requires and demands accountability beyond social media habits, it must include a degree of consistency and concern for everyone; regardless of how inconvenient and politically expedient it may be. I wholeheartedly wish it were true that #AllLivesMatter. I also wish that everyone was pulling their weight in making it a reality.
Those wishes haven't come true...yet.
#BlackLivesMatter may not be the best tool to convey the message of social inequity. In fact, I am positive it isn't. But until #AllLives are impacted surrounding these issues and #AllLives share in the pain and the burden, #BlackLivesMatter will have to do. Those most impacted may not know of a better way to express the frustration of men, women and children dying while not engaging in illegal activity. But someone needs to be honest enough to admit beyond those impacted that we're not impacted equally.
And let's be honest, would anyone even have taken note of #AllLivesMatter?
With that now out of the way, can we get to the business of justice for all in America? Then and only then can we say #AllLivesMatter.
Morris W. O'Kelly (Mo'Kelly) is host of The Mo'Kelly Show on KFI AM640 in Los Angeles and iHeartRadio. The Mo'Kelly Report is a syndicated politics and entertainment journal. Contact him at email@example.com and all commentary is welcome.