Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Why Saying Black Lives Matter is Better than Saying All Lives Matter

I sit at my keyboard having planned to tell you about my little boy growing from six to seven, milestones met, and about how we rang in his seventh birthday with fireworks and questions I’d never have expected from him. I’d planned to share the magic of a gem mine and water rides on a hot day and about how my baby turning seven gives me incredible joy and and also a little bit of heartbreak.

And, I will. I promise, I’ll tell you about all of that.

Right now though, I feel compelled to talk instead about why #blacklivesmatter. 

whats the difference between all lives matter and black lives matter


About two months ago, I got pulled over for expired plates. The officer (a young black man) was unbelievably kind to me.

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “”I didn’t even realize!”

“It’s okay,” he said. “Is it a lease?” he asked, saying how he knows for some leased cars, they don’t mail reminders out any longer.

He stood there calmly while I reached into my gigantic mom-purse to find my license.

He didn’t reach for his gun while I fumbled around in a purse he couldn’t see the contents of from where he stood. I was embarrassed but I was not afraid.

When giving me a warning, he said “Here’s a warning you can use in case you get pulled over again before having a chance to go to the DMV.”

I hope his mom knows what a kind son she raised. I’m sure she’s proud of him. I bet she worries about him. 

***

Oh friends, the world. This country this week. Racism. Hatred. Fear. Senseless deaths.

As a middle-aged white woman who sits at my kitchen table while the air conditioning runs and my husband watches our son ride his scooter outside, I am more afraid of impatient traffic than I am of somebody shooting them.

whats the difference between all lives matter and black lives matter

My friend Sara posted an article on Facebook yesterday. I hadn’t read it before but it’s really good. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like being white gave me “we,” the way that the author of I, Racist explains that black people do.

“Black people think in terms of Black people. We don’t see a shooting of an innocent Black child in another state as something separate from us because we know viscerally that it could be our child, our parent, or us, that is shot.

White people do not think in terms of we. White people have the privilege to interact with the social and political structures of our society as individuals. You are ‘you,’ I am ‘one of them.’ Whites are often not directly affected by racial oppression even in their own community, so what does not affect them locally has little chance of affecting them regionally or nationally. They have no need, nor often any real desire, to think in terms of a group. They are supported by the system, and so are mostly unaffected by it.”

The author’s point that white people think of ourselves as individuals rang true for me. 

I’m not sure I’ve thought of being
part of a collective WE since
high-school, when WE were the Bruins.

I do not think of myself as racist. I teach my son that life matters and so far, he hasn’t shown any more interest in skin color than to use it as a descriptor.

As in “Wait, which David? The peach one or the brown one?” for he has two friends named David.

While I will do everything in my power to ensure that his views remain this simple, I’m not naive enough to think that he won’t also learn the ways of the world from the world.  At some point, he’ll be given the benefit of the doubt because he is a white boy.

***

I wonder whether my son would’ve gotten the same free ABA Therapy and Preschool Autism Classroom without having an Autism diagnosis if he were black. In this particular school district, he probably would have. But in DC and the surrounding areas – in this country – maybe not.

That’s a problem.

Why Saying Black Lives Matter is Better than Saying All Lives Matter

You’ve probably seen discussions on social media about the difference between #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter. I admit that when I first saw the discussion, I thought saying all lives matter made sense. Because they do. All lives matter. I believe that with all of me. 

Then, I read this article, which does a great job explaining how saying all lives matter is dismissive. Here’s an excerpt: 

“Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say ‘I should get my fair share.’ And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, ‘everyone should get their fair share.’ Now, that’s a wonderful sentiment — indeed, everyone should, and that was kinda your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also. However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any!”

Click over to read the full article – it changed my mind and I’d be curious about your thoughts regarding saying Black Lives Matter rather than All Lives Matter.

Either way, I think talking and discussion is the best place for us to begin to affect action.

After all, it is the people’s voices demanding change who affect change.

we can affect change. Regular people spoke up. They freed slaves, said yes to marriage equality, gave women the right to vote, & asked for inclusion for kids with special needs. ItIt is you and I and those like us who freed slaves, said yes to marriage equality, gave women the right to vote, and created programs that try to ensure that all children are given an opportunity to learn in the manner that works best for them.

It’s because we collectively spoke up that we have the freedoms that we have.

It’s time to speak up about #blacklivesmatter.

And to the kind policeman who gave me a break for having expired plates, thank you.

Please stay safe as an officer. Please stay safe as a black man. 

You and all our human brothers and sisters deserve to be safe while wearing hoodies or being pulled over for traffic stops.

I know that black lives matter. You matter.

 


  • Emily - Such a thoughtful piece Kristi. I read one on Scary Mommy earlier today that talked about how the families with white children who are friends with children who are black need to do a better job of not just educating them about racism and how it exists (even though it doesn’t in their own eyes), but also educating them about protecting their friends who happen to be black and looking out for them. I can’t find the article now because I’d post the link here and I’m probably butchering the point of it, but it did resonate with me. However, It also saddened me that this mom felt compelled to write a piece about keeping her children safe.July 10, 2016 – 4:06 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Emily. I’ll have to try and find the Scary Mommy piece. I think it’s good so many people are writing and talking about it. Maybe this is the start and it breaks my heart that moms feel their children are less safe because they have more melatonin than some other people. Sigh.July 11, 2016 – 8:01 pmReplyCancel

  • JT Walters - Thank you for your post…seriously, I was jonesing!!

    You know me In Real Life. You know my family is Republican and were Rough Riders. We fought in wars with emancipated slaves in the early 1900s. As Germans, we are taught to have tribal ideology and not racial.

    You also know my son is a white autistic child who loves black people. He thinks he is Eminem. I too have also brought him up to love every one until they give him reason not to. I’d never teach my child to hate…even broccoli. It is such a negative emotion. I always remind Alex he is not loved by all black people to which they respond, “Yes, we don’t!” So besides the occasional racist person we run into…we don’t see it. I can also speak to law enforcements behavior in this community. They are very respectful until a gun gets pulled.

    I would also like to write to “Black Lives Matter”. I have been told time and time again living in this community black is a life style. My friends tell me we are black too because we have lived here so long. I do think ALL LIVES MATTER! But I also raised my child in a black community so he would live an inclusionary life. I think he has benefitted from the experience.

    Finally, law enforcement is charged with attempting to keep a chaotic world from self destructing. No all cops are good but the majority of them are. They are people who put it on the line everyday just to earn a small paycheck to make it home to their families too.

    ALL LIVES MATTER including the teen with autism hanging with the brothers in the hood because black is truly a life style.July 10, 2016 – 8:24 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - You’re so kind thank you (and I still forgive you for being republican lol). You know you really should write to #blacklivesmatter – your perspective is unique and important. I hope you will and of course all lives matter – of COURSE they do. But today we need to help end racism. It’s pointless and wrong. I know what you mean about law enforcement too… most are good. Like most things. xoxoJuly 11, 2016 – 8:04 pmReplyCancel

      • JT Walters - And I forgive you my Democratic friend..LOL! We just return from a candidate forum hosted by the NAACP. I was asked to join the NAACP and I might. I was there to support a black candidate for sheriff.

        I think diversity in law enforcement is critical resolving racial tension but children with special needs often have conflict with law enforcement as well. ALL LIVES MATTER…the candidate for sheriff who also happened to be black said so too. We are all in it together especially the young impressionable white child with autism listening that his life was important as well.

        ALL of us matter and diversity is our weapon to defeat ignorance.

        BTW, Schoolboard would not take a question about ESE students. That was pretty upsetting.July 11, 2016 – 8:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Lewis - FRI…uh…oh. Second 😉July 10, 2016 – 8:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Lewis - I think it’s so poignant that in this week, you’re writing about someone who bridges the gap between two of the major ‘groups’ talked about – black men, and the police. So much has gone wrong with all the hatred and whipping-up, and sensationalisation of stories and scare-mongering…it sometimes feels as though we’re going around in circles and all just shouting the odds at each other.

    And somewhere, in the middle, (as per a recent Don article), there are the ones waiting for more information, hoping for a fair assessment of both sides, in order to know how best to proceed. In the meantime, I think that I’ve also changed my mind, because though I also believe that all lives matter, having read that article, I can now acknowledge that this movement, as it stands, is important, and it needs voices from ALL backgrounds to champion the cause.

    Adding my hopes to yours that your police officer stays safe. He sounds like a really good man. And I think with your example and instruction, T will grow up into someone who makes *you* proud.July 10, 2016 – 9:17 pmReplyCancel

  • April Grant - Beautifully written Kristi. Having this understanding allows us to move forward. I found this quote from Henry Ford today, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” https://www.instagram.com/p/BHsFdzwgAsb/?taken-by=theaprilnoelle, we really need to work together, not be dismissive of others struggles.July 10, 2016 – 9:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Kerry - Of course all lives matter, but I also see nothing wrong with the hash tag for BLM either. Why does it have to be one or the other with everyone? Having a Twitter hash tag and movement for change, called Black Lives Matter, this, in no way, negates the universal truth that all lives do, indeed, matter.
    I am white, female, with disability. I can speak to many things. I can’t speak to people immediately hating me or fearing me because of my skin colour. All I can speak to is someone, possibly, disliking me or fearing me or misunderstanding me because they’ve never known anyone who was blind before. That scares some, but not exactly in the same way as the matter of race.
    I know it’s the environment you grew up in, where you live, amount of poverty you’ve experienced that also plays a part. You are right. Often, a white person with their hand in a big bag would not elicit the same response as if it were a black person, when there’s fear of a gun coming out of that bag. That’s the key. Guns.
    I don’t mean to bring the issue away from skin colour, which I don’t see, but doesn’t free me totally from pre-judgments and prejudice, but it’s no help to throw in guns, into an already possibly misunderstood situation. Police stopping a vehicle, approaching a stranger in a car window, this can lead to disastrous results.
    I blame nobody. I just wish guns weren’t quite so readily available to all.
    Still, we all need to remember, in so much of life, it doesn’t need to be an either or situation.July 11, 2016 – 2:45 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Hey Kerry,
      I guess it doesn’t have to be one or the other because all lives do matter. But the article that I read talking about how saying all lives matter dismisses the fact that many people feel that black lives DONT matter right now makes that hashtag more important or relevant or something right now, I think. Adding the “too” to the end makes a huge difference.
      And yeah, I know more first-hand about people not “liking” somebody because of his (or her) abilities – I’ve seen that with my son and I’m so very sorry you see it in your life.
      And another yeah, the guns. They’re too readily accessible. And that’s WRONG and gigantically a part of the problem. When I first wrote this, it was like 2,000 words about how we were at our local grocery and a man dropped a gun on the floor twice and I was so shocked… and Tucker saw it, and my husband confronted him and and and. Guns shouldn’t be so readily available. Truth.July 11, 2016 – 10:52 pmReplyCancel

  • Out One Ear - I love this Krisit. Beautiful.July 11, 2016 – 2:55 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa L Nolan - Such a great commentary, Iove how you wove in rights for special needs, rights that parents and educators of special needs kids fought for! And I would not like hearing, “all kids have special needs,” really!? So your child has Down syndrome? Autism? It’s not the same. Black lives matter and their rights need protection!July 11, 2016 – 2:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Tamara - The analogy is incredible – “and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any!”
    You saw how Scarlet feels about racism. She says, “Like.. nothing is dumber.”
    It’s true. Things are on par with it, but WTF. Kids aren’t born to think this way. What is wrong with these silent demons, who seem to be getting louder and louder? Do I have those demons of hate and fear? I really think not. If so, I’d beat the heck out of them, to get them expelled.July 11, 2016 – 3:49 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I love Scarlet’s comment so much. Because truth – “nothing is dumber.” I agree kids aren’t born this way. Tucker talks about skin color the way he talks about shirt color. Like “you know the peach girl with the blue shirt?”
      I really think not either to you and I but. Yes, if so let’s expel them. I don’t think they’re there though although our empathy hearts are and so we know when to speak up and maybe that’s a start.July 11, 2016 – 10:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Mo Lux - This is a great example of how even well intentioned people can cause hurt without meaning to. Your essay and the Fusion article remind us that calm dialogue can go a long way to help us understand one another. I have to say that I was guilty of jumping on the #AllLivesMatter bandwagon believing that it represented inclusion, the message that all people are created equal. It’s amazing how adding that tiny, implied word “too” suddenly made me understand the importance of not diluting the message of #BlackLivesMatter . Thanks, Kristi for your eloquent words.July 11, 2016 – 4:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Echo - Kristi, as some who somewhat sees both sides, I love this. I have experienced white privilege and racism first hand. I have seen my brother and myself treated completely different at the same time, by the same person, because of the color of our skin. Even with that experience, I have stayed silent in the past, unsure if it was “my place” to say anything, but it is “my place” it is all of “our places” Black lives do matter and we can’t stay silent.July 11, 2016 – 4:56 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - One of my husband’s brothers is black too and I keep thinking of him, such a great guy, and the difference between maybe him being pulled over and my husband being pulled over. All lives matter but it’s really time I think to talk about why #blacklivesmatter. I’d be interested to hear more about your experiences for sure.July 11, 2016 – 11:02 pmReplyCancel

  • Jen - Shared this in my biracial support group
    Thank you for being the voice we need to hearJuly 11, 2016 – 11:04 pmReplyCancel

  • My Inner Chick - —-I agree, Kristi.
    “BLACK LIVES MATTER.”
    But nothing will change until we unite as
    ONE nation, One blood, One color, One Humanity.
    We separate ourselves: Muslims, Christians, Blacks, Whites, Poor, Rich, and let us not forget, Republicans & Democrats.
    WHAT A MESS there. Right?
    There is not ONE answer, one solution,
    but I know one thing for sure.
    It’s about LOVE, Respect, Education, & LOVE LOVE LOVE. xxx kiss from MN.
    Watch this WONDERFUL video I saw today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JbGC1Ine6MJuly 14, 2016 – 2:48 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Kim,
      I so hope that people’s sadness and anger over tragedy after tragedy start to make a difference and start to bond us together as ONE HUMANITY. My little boy doesn’t see any difference so how is it being taught? We have to stop it – and yes yes yes it’s about love, respect, education and LOVE LOVE LOVE. Going to watch the video now – thank you.July 15, 2016 – 6:51 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - I know this wasn’t meant to make me cry but my emotions are really on the edge. Just comparing your opening to the post I wrote about Driving While Black. Though I put my humorous spin on the experience, it still bothers me. I drove by that spot today and came in the way the cop would have seen me, and saw a car pull beyond the stop sign just like I did and I still can’t believe he stopped me and everyone does it. You have to in order to see oncoming traffic. Anyway, everytime I’m ready to write, something happens and I.CANT.EVEN. So I’ve been quiet and doing other things to keep my mind from writing words I can’t take back. It is quite – a burden of silence. I love what you’ve written here. When a Black person speaks out on social media about what’s going on, it’s damn if you do damn if you don’t. “We” are going to piss off half of our friends for saying #BlackLivesMatter. My courage to speak up right now really sucks. That’s for sharing your words and the articles of others. Love ya!July 15, 2016 – 3:54 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Hey Kenya,
      Yeah, it still bothers me too about that cop shaking his head at you. What a ________. I know what you mean about CANT EVEN too. I think a lot of us feel that way now. So angry and sad and just feeling helpless. I almost didn’t post this because I was like “who am I?” and then I was all “who am I not to?” because honestly while I do think all lives matter (because duh), we’re seeing racism over skin color and we have to talk about black lives matter so we can finally look at us all as the human race.
      Sigh. I see Tucker asking “wait, which David? The brown one or the peach one?” and that’s ALL skin color means to him now and I wonder how all these racist adults lost that innocence. How they got taught they were “better” or whatever because of less pigment?!?!?
      And sometimes, we have to just go home and hug the people we love and not speak up. But wow friend, that burden of silence. I’m sure it’s super-loud. xoxo and so love you too.July 15, 2016 – 7:39 pmReplyCancel

      • Kristi Campbell - PS When I say “who am I not to?” I hope you know I mean me as a middle aged white lady who let her plates expire and not because I think you should say anything until you want to or never or well, you know. . xoxoJuly 15, 2016 – 7:41 pmReplyCancel

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