Stating one's position is cool and all. It's just unconvincing as far as drawing me to a side goes. So, whether you tell me that #BlackLivesMatter or that #AllLivesMatter, I'm probably going to say yes and move on. Where the former gains traction, is that it is coupled with dramatic stories and experiences that are sincerely felt; feelings of neglect, abuse and modern ostracism by a collective system. This may be a good place to pause and ponder about how this came about and whether that's at all relevant. Many may argue that since the death of Collins Khoza, little...
Stating one's position is cool and all. It's just unconvincing as far as drawing me to a side goes.

So, whether you tell me that #BlackLivesMatter or that #AllLivesMatter, I'm probably going to say yes and move on. Where the former gains traction, is that it is coupled with dramatic stories and experiences that are sincerely felt; feelings of neglect, abuse and modern ostracism by a collective system.

This may be a good place to pause and ponder about how this came about and whether that's at all relevant. Many may argue that since the death of Collins Khoza, little was done until it took the death of an American in the form of George Floyd to spark antagonism toward the system. While it is upsetting that it would take additional and international death before local issues reach a critical mass, the ignition can hardly be blamed for the lingering fuel.

So here we are.

You have friends who are saying that #BlackLivesMatter and supplementing it with statistics, stories and confident graphics, and you have friends who are saying that #AllLivesMatter and supplementing it with statistics, stories and confident graphics. And each side is threatening that you're the problem if you don't side with them…sigh

Their interaction is an obscure dance where they mostly rotate around the circumference of the issues on opposite sides, hurling slogans and cheap statistics at one another and well, it's more exhausting to endure than attending a Greek wedding with an infinite number of plates.

It's seemingly evident that continuing this dance is not going to end with two from separate camps going home together but for some reason, this dance continues.

I can comprehend the force behind the #BlackLivesMatter side. That's pretty obviously compelled by a collective sense of systematic injustice; an injustice focused on particular groupings. What I struggled for a long while to understand was what compels their counterpart.

As a point of departure, I think the oft-employed torts of saying "#AllLivesMatter is like screaming all cancers matter at a breast cancer awareness drive" or "…like saying all children matter at the funeral of a particular child" is dismissively silly. Why? Because all those retorts do not address the underlying premise of #AllLivesMatter and yet the people on that side are too afraid to say it.

They're afraid to concede that they simply do not buy that black people are disproportionately/unfairly harmed by the system. There is evidence for and against this position but it would take a lot of guts to stand before an angry crowd and say that their oppression is (a) quantifiable and (b) quantifiably consistent with those not in the crowd. It is far simpler to just point out that abuses should not be felt in totality and that we shouldn't focus on race specificities.

And sure, the burden of rectifying injustices is scary because few will agree on how abuse can flow from those in control. It's not like BEE has done much for those in Alex and despite spending a bulk of cash on education, it's not like that's broadly empowering either.

So focusing on resolving injustice by means of the race criteria has its merit along with its critique but the #AllLivesMatter chaps and chappettes seem to remain afraid of pushing that critique, offering a slogan instead.

Really, the reason I think it's easy to be critical of #BlackLivesMatter is because as much as the cause seems to highlight perceived issues, it's rather cryptic about the practical ends it seeks and those goalposts seem volatile. It's not like #AllLivesMatter is any less cryptic.

And so the dance shall continue and when mentally exasperated, they'll ask why nobody came over to their side. Perhaps then they'll realise that they need to establish what their side stands for first.

If the All Lives Matter crowd actually said what they mean, they might be taken more seriously


Richard Anthony Chemaly entertainment attorney, radio broadcaster and lecturer of communication ethics.

For more news your way, download The Citizen's app for iOS and Android.