Is the very slogan (and name) of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement racist, as some have claimed? I think the answer is clearly “no,” but I will try to explain the confusion that has lead to the counter-movement(?) All Lives Matter (ALM).
My interpretation of what the BLM folks are saying is “black lives are being treated as if they do not matter; however, they do.” This, however, is not a very sexy slogan, so they stick with “black lives matter,” which, of course, assumes we understand the context of the statement.
“But no!” people exclaim (that’s an exclamation mark guys), “All lives matter.” So, another movement (ALM). “Meta,” one might say; however, ALM is a counter-movement to BLM, which ALM has seemingly misunderstood (I’m going to take the high-road here). ALM sees BLM as claiming black supremacy, as if BLM was calling for the black lives to matter more than other lives. We’ve already established (well, I have—you were there) that BLM stands for no such thing, and therefore the outrage of ALM at BLM is based on a double-misunderstanding, both about context: (1) ALM misunderstands that BLM is saying “black lives matter” in the context of black lives seemingly not mattering much to some people and (2) ALM misunderstands that it has a context of its own—that of being a counter-movement to BLM—and that this gives their position a … racist (there, I said it) tone.
The first misunderstanding makes well-meaning people support ALM; the second misunderstanding provides an opportunity for a third misunderstanding—of the understandings, no less! Damnit. I promise this is the last one. The third misunderstanding is by BLM and other people on the outside of ALM (I’m just going to call this group BLM for short because lazy) of ALM. BLM sees that ALM is hitting some racist notes—well fuck you ALM. I get it. However, BLM doesn’t recognize that most people joined ALM because of Misunderstanding 1 and that they aren’t even aware of how Misunderstanding 2 makes them seem racist af.
Guess what, I lied. There are even more misunderstandings because the mainstream media. Just kidding, that was just for fun—I love you, mainstream media (just kidding about kidding—you’re the worst). So Misunderstanding 3 makes BLM even more pissed because ALM is all “you’re the ones being racist” so BLM is all “what the actual holy of holy hells is this?” So ALM is all “so now you not only don’t acknowledge that all lives matter, but you now actively oppose the fact that all lives matter—we were so right about you.” You can see where this is going.