Why ‘White Lives Matter’ is Wrong

Imagine being at the funeral of your child and someone else speaks up and say: ‘All children matter’. I recently read on social media someone compared this to being the equivalent of saying ‘All lives matter.’

Talking about race may not be an easy conversation, but it is certainly a long overdue conversation and no doubt a crucial conversation.

In Australia we can compare this to the terrible bush fires we had earlier this year. When your house is on fire, your house matters more than your neighbour’s and vice versa. ‘All lives matter’ is a deeply problematic phrase and frankly very offensive. It is a hurtful phrase that makes it sounds like you are indeed a racist. Or further, someone who does not get the struggle our coloured and black brothers and sisters have been fighting their whole lives.

No one is denying that human rights are important for all races, but if you think it has been equal race for all, you are wrong.

There may be another analogy to start with, especially if you are white and come from a space of white fragility or white privilege. There used to be a time not too long ago, where women could not vote. Women did not get the vote by making perfect martinis for their husbands and sitting back, waiting for it to eventually happen. When it did happen, not everyone was equally excited about the change. But over time more and more people came on board.

We still have a glass ceiling and due to certain historical decisions gender equality is not as equal as you may imagine. Can you relate to how a feminist may feel, when she hears ‘what about the men?’ Now imagine being a black woman and potentially gay! There is a difference between not being a racist and being anti- racist.

It is simply not enough not being racist; you need to step up and speak out.

Not speaking up for racism is the same than seeing someone being bullied or harassed and quietly leaving the room.

Moving forward starts with a mindset, followed by action. It starts with the language we use. It is not as much about being politically correct than it is about being culturally smart. Inappropriate images/cartoons as above from 1887 can’t be erased. They should act as a reminder to politicians, reporters and the general media, who should actively seek to erase this from our future.

And for the non-believers/doubters – Thank you for reading this far. Maybe I can convince you to adjust your thinking as equal race treatment it is also good for business. One thing we do know about cultural intelligence (CQ) is that you need motivation to grow your CQ. Thus, also note there is no point arguing with someone who simply does not care enough to listen with an open mind. Though if you say “I’m not racist”, good for you, stop saying it and start showing it.

Footnote

For those who are concerned by my use of the black, white and coloured people – depending on your viewpoint you may have a better way to phrase this, but allow me to quote my hero Madiba (Nelson Mandela), who said “I call them white, black and coloured as that is what I can see.”

Yes, it can be argued that we are all a colour, which is why I was so delighted when Crayola released crayons in every possible shade of skins. Just don’t argue that you don’t see colour, because we all do. My challenge is for you to ensure you interpret that data of what you see to be fair and equal and speak out. Be anti-racist.