But ALL Lives DO Matter…

But ALL Lives DO Matter… June 25, 2015

By the Rev. Dwight Wolter

There is a lot of angry blow-back against people who are responding to “Black Lives Matter” with “All Lives Matter.” It is unfortunate that “sides” seem to have been taken. My social media contacts, political inclination and religious affiliation predispose me to the “Black Lives Matter” voices; but I would respectfully like to offer a couple of insights to the “All Lives Matter” folk.

shutterstock_249413992I presided over the funeral of an Ecuadorian immigrant hate crime murder victim, Marcelo Lucero, who was stalked and killed by a group of seven teenagers from the local high school here on Long Island. Just like in Charleston, South Carolina, a federal investigation was opened by the Department of Justice. All seven teens were sentenced to prison. The stabber is serving 25 years. Our formerly (so to speak) “White Lives Matter” community had become about one-third Latino/Hispanic. The cry became (so to speak) “Brown Lives Matter.”

Last month, a 25 year old, Long Island cop was shot in the face and killed by a black man. People began to “X” out the word “Black” in signs and graffiti that said, “Black Lives Matter” and wrote, in blue paint, “Blue Lives Matter.”

Tonight, I have been invited as a member of a clergy/police council (of which 80% of the clergy are black) to be trained by the Suffolk County Police Department (the third largest in the United States) in security measures to minimize the possibility of being murdered in our church. But ours is, essentially, a white church. What could we possibly have to fear? Then again, we are a notable church that could very easily be construed as “sympathetic” to persons of color and thus “traitors” in the eyes of a fanatic with a gun.

Let’s get technical for a moment: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2060 the Hispanic population will nearly double to about 34% whereas the black population will increase slightly from 13% to 14%. The “white” population will continue to age and shrink to 43% of the population and, perhaps forevermore, lose its majority status. Whether political and economic advantage will shrink accordingly is another issue.

Whose lives matter? Whose lives matter most? It depends on who you ask, when you ask, and where you ask. One thing to keep in mind in this black, brown, white and blue conversation is that if the movement names one of those colors and not the others ~ it is counter-productive to make dismissive or rude comments to people who feel that all lives, including their own, matter equally.

The Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter pastors a Congregational church in Long Island. He blogs at: dwightleewolter.com.

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One response to “But ALL Lives DO Matter…”

  1. Yes, all lives matter. But I feel that your blog post misses the point that proponents of “Black lives matter” were making. It should go without saying that black lives matter, brown lives matter, all lives matter, etc. But in the case of black lives, there is a sense that they don’t matter to a significant portion of American society. I say this not in terms of numbers, because we can’t really know that. But you can go to just about any article from any news station, newspaper, online news source, blog, Facebook, etc and see just how little black lives matter. The hate, disdain, and indifference is in the comments. You see these things and know that you don’t feel that way, you don’t agree with them. That may be enough for you. It’s not enough to some others. It’s obvious that all lives matter. It’s only obvious to some that black lives matter. So, a statement was made because it was necessary. For anyone to come behind that statement with “Well, ALL lives matter.” is insensitive and disrespectful at best, (deliberately instigating and manipulative at it’s worst) because it comes across as an attempt to ignore or shift the focus from an issue that is important to many. If someone wants to make a statement or start a movement about all lives, sincerely, and not as a way to undercut what is important to someone else, then they should. But maybe come up with their own slogan rather than co-oping another. I agree that it’s counter-productive to make dismissive or rude comments to people who feel that all lives matter equally. I happen to believe that many “black lives matter” proponents believe that all lives matter equally. Their statement is not to diminish white lives, brown lives etc. Reading into it that way may have more to do with “all lives matter”. It is a countering defensive posture against “black lives matter”. Was that really necessary or conducive though?