Why the Debate Over ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘All Lives Matter’ Actually Matters In Reclaiming the Black Narrative
The debate over whether #BlackLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter has reignited once again in a significant way, providing an opportunity for a nascent Black movement to place their self-worth at center stage.
It started at the Netroots Nation presidential candidates’ forum in Phoenix on July 19, when former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Sen. Bernie Sanders stumbled and fumbled all over the stage when confronted by #BlackLivesMatter activists. In light of the deaths of Black women in police custody— particularly the most recent example of Sandra Bland—the protesters demanded to know if O’Malley would advance a racial justice agenda and dismantle structural racism in the United States.
Ultimately, O’Malley was forced off the stage when he said, “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter.” Since then, other high-profile figures have chimed in.
Stephen A. Smith, the ESPN commentator, created controversy when he defended O’Malley, and asked why there is no outrage among “Black lives matter” advocates when “Black folks are killing Black folks.”
As was reported in The Blaze, Smith went to Twitter, writing: “I’m a black man. Of course I know #BlackLivesMatter.” He added, “You can’t boo a presidential candidate just b/c he says ‘all lives matter’.”
Ultimately, Smith spoke on his SiriusXM radio show to stand by his remarks, arguing that people should not apologize for saying “all lives do matter.”
Further, he suggested that Black people should not be surprised when “people who don’t happen to be Black don’t appear to care about us, when we’re not only not caring about them, but we’re not caring about ourselves enough to bring the same kind of attention to that issue when we’re killing one another.”