All Lives Matter.
Okay, yeah, that is the whole point.
Nobody ever said that all lives don’t matter, nobody ever said white lives don’t matter. White lives have always mattered- in the yes of the community, the government, the police force- you name it and they matter. But, all lives won’t matter until black lives do too (you see how I put “too” there).
Freire in Pedagogy of the Oppressed notes that when oppression has been destroyed the oppressors often feel oppressed themselves. They become so accustom to the power they hold over the people, that any change is social construct makes them feel as if they are being violated. Take white privilege for an example. As soon as prioritizing black lives and creating equity in society has surfaced in America, some white people were quick to say that as a society, we were putting black lives on a pedestal.
As much as I would like to think that white people have trouble recognizing their privilege and recognizing their role as an oppressor in society, I think this is not true. I’ve heard time and time again from the conservative white males at the elderly home I work at say that “these people are just reversing the system.” Exactly Jim! There is a detrimental systematic error here, and I hope you have just a little humanity left in that old body to see that this oppressive system needs to be dismantled.
Although it is clear that white people are not turning into the oppressed and society is not going through a role-reversal, white people are unaware of what privilege looks like. When we walk into a clothing store we see shampoo and tights catered towards the light skin tones, we are able to turn on the TV and see people who look like us, and we are able to move through life without the fear of our humanity being questioned solely based on the color of our skin. We are oblivious to these snippets of privilege, but if we keep normalizing this type of system we are creating “privilege that dehumanizes others and themselves.” Notice the word “themselves.” Yes, privilege can hurt the oppressor too. The oppressors are creating an environment where they normalize violence against a certain group. When the oppressed fight against this for their liberation, they are reintroducing compassion, understanding, and love to the oppressors minds.
This whole idea of reversed racism is a myth. I am not saying there are not racial prejudices against the white culture. “White people can’t dance.” We hear it, and it holds racial prejudice. But is not considered racism. And this has everything to do with the power oppressors, or white people, hold in this system. Non-white people do not have the power to define whites people’s existence or limit their opportunities. In a white dominant society, racial prejudices will not hurt white people because they hold all this power. It is time for a redistribution of this power, it is time for the oppressed to reclaim the humanity, and therefore it is time for black lives to matter.