A Letter To The All Lives Matter Movement

all lives matter?Peace,

I pray that all is going well with you on yet another day that the Lord has made.  

I wanted to reach out to you to lovingly address (and prayerfully have conversation about) some of the concerns that I have regarding the propaganda that comes from your movement.  Over the past several months now, it seems that everywhere I look, everywhere I go, I find people proclaiming that “All Lives Matter”.  More often than not, the statement is used as a rebuke to those of us who state that “Black Lives Matter”; a correction mean to usher is back into a mindset of equality and equity.  

I’d like to offer that there are deep misperceptions on your end about what we mean on ours.  I would contend that these spaces of equality and equity are not ones that we have vacated, but rather, these are spaces that we seemingly occupy alone.  

For your consideration, I’d like to offer a different way of thinking about the state of affairs we find ourselves in collectively and how it affects African Americans, specifically.

Think with me on these questions for a moment: What does it mean for you to be invited if you’re not allowed (or expected) to be yourself when you get there?  What does it means for a people to have to downplay and deny their own identity for the sake of acceptance in a larger dynamic?   More categorically, what happens when I have to compromise my “Africanity” in the name of inclusion in the grouping of “all”?  Are there other sub sects and groups that are castigated for speaking to their own issues in specificity?  

When Parisians are victimized by violence & the cry is to “Pray For Paris”, the collective rebuttal isn’t that “All Cities Matter”.  When police are killed in the line of duty and the cry is “Blue Lives Matter”, the collective reply isn’t that “All Public Servants Matter”.  Even deeper, the reason why it isn’t the response is because to suggest that “All Cities Matter” in the wake of Parisians having to deal with realities unambiguous to them or to suggest that “All Public Servants Matter” to police officers dealing with the death of their colleagues would be both insensitive and inconsiderate.  

It is in this same vein, that when African Americans (& others) proclaim that “Black Lives Matter” and people respond to this declaration by stating that “All Lives Matter”, an act of disregard, disrespect and devaluation is taking place.  

Though you may not realize it (at least I’d like to think you don’t realize it), this repeated rhetoric represents a passive decimation of our movement; an invitation to a global party which stipulates we, as African Americans, are our best when we are seen and not heard.  

Now, I realize that the tone and topic of this letter may have become suddenly uneasy.  Let me pause briefly to say that I make no judgements here. In fact, my Bible teaches me to not to.  As a Christian, I also try to presume the best of intentions when dealing with all people. My words are not given in an attempt to condemn but rather to correct.  

That being said, these repeated rejoinders from your end made to the pronouncements of personhood from our end are offensive.  Your failure to see it this way, does not make it any less hurtful nor does your indifference towards it make your action any less ignorant. 

Brethren beloved, please allow us, African Americans and those sympathetic to our struggle, the God-given space that every one else on the planet is afforded to grieve and self-determine for ourselves.  Do not allow your lack of comprehension to translate into a lack of compassion.  If you feel compelled to critique our behavior, be just in your observations & invest as much time criticizing what creates our responses as you do criticizing the responses themselves.  

We are all children of Most High, valuable beyond measure in the eyes of God.  Despite this truth, not everyone’s life is viewed, treated or treasured in the same way.  All we desire is to be seen as God sees and regarded in the same way our cultural counterparts are.  

We welcome your prayers and participation, but, please, refrain from confining us.  Allow us the freedom to emote apart from your approval. Doing this is necessary if we are to ultimately to “act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with our God”.   Hopefully, we can discuss this further.  Take care & may God bless all of us.


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Derrick Holmes

Derrick Holmes is the Senior Pastor of Second Baptist Church in Circleville, Ohio. He regularly attempts to think through intersections of religion, race, and culture. A closet introvert, Derrick presently resides in Columbus, Ohio where his quest for New York style pizza & knishes is ongoing. Follow him on Twitter @mrderrickholmes

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Posted on: July 21, 2016

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