All Lives Matter

All Lives Matter (#AllLivesMatter) is a slogan that has come to be associated with criticism[1] of the Black Lives Matter movement.[2][3]

"All Lives Matter" sign at a rally in Portland, Oregon, on June 4, 2017


Several notable individuals have supported All Lives Matter. United States Republican Senator Tim Scott has used the term when calling for racial equality and unity.[4] In 2016, American football player Richard Sherman supported the All Lives Matter message, saying "I stand by what I said that All Lives Matter and that we are human beings." He wanted African Americans to be "treated like human beings" and did not want innocent police officers being killed.[5][6] In June 2015, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton faced backlash after using the phrase "all lives matter" at an African-American church in Missouri during her presidential campaign.[7] Martin O'Malley, another 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, was booed when he said: "White lives matter. All lives matter."[8][9]

Controversial American rapper XXXTentacion came under criticism when he supported the movement in the music video for his hit song "Look at Me!". The video depicted him – a black male – hanging a white child. After criticism, he said the goal of it was to show that "[Y]ou can't justify the fact that I murdered a child. ... I'm trying to show that murder is murder," in similar fashion to his song "Riot", which criticized many rioters associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.[10]

Ben Carson, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, is a proponent of All Lives Matter,[11] as is Senator Rand Paul, who has claimed that Black Lives Matter "focused on the wrong targets". Paul stated that "I think they should change their name maybe—if they were All Lives Matter, or Innocent Lives Matter."[12] In 2016, presidential candidate (and subsequent president) Donald Trump claimed that "Black Lives Matter" is a divisive and racist term.[13]

At a performance during the 2016 MLB All-Star Game, Remigio Pereira, a member of The Tenors, held up an "All Lives Matter" sign and altered some lyrics to the anthem "O Canada".[14] Pereira sang, "We're all brothers and sisters. All lives matter to the great," instead of the lines, "With glowing hearts we see thee rise, The True North strong and free."[14] Even after criticism, he defended his statement, tweeting "I speak for the human race and the lives of all sentient beings. Love, peace, and harmony for ALL has always been my life's purpose."[14]

Activists from Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter made news when they embraced during a run-in in Dallas, stating: "We're all brothers and sisters."[15]

On October 2, 2016, a fan at a Chicago Bears NFL game ran onto the field during a television timeout during the 4th quarter dressed in a gorilla costume, wearing a shirt that read "All Lives Matter" on the front.[16]


"What happened to 'All Lives Matter'?", a sign at a protest against Donald Trump

According to professor of critical race theory, David Theo Goldberg, "All Lives Matter" reflects a view of "racial dismissal, ignoring, and denial".[17] Philosopher Chris Lebron describes "All Lives Matter" as a "disingenuous retort" that misunderstands the problem raised by Black Lives Matter proponents.[18] On Real Time with Bill Maher, Bill Maher expressed support for use of the "Black Lives Matter" phrase, stating that "'All Lives Matter' implies that all lives are equally at risk, and they're not".[19]

Founders of the Black Lives Matter movement have responded to criticism of the movement's exclusivity, saying, "#BlackLivesMatter doesn't mean your life isn't important – it means that Black lives, which are seen without value within white supremacy, are important to your liberation."[20] Black Lives Matter movement co-founder Alicia Garza argues that "all lives matter" rhetoric has negative effects for racial justice: "When we deploy 'All Lives Matter' as to correct an intervention specifically created to address anti-blackness, we lose the ways in which the state apparatus has built a program of genocide and repression mostly on the backs of Black people—beginning with the theft of millions of people for free labor—and then adapted it to control, murder, and profit off of other communities of color and immigrant communities. . . When you drop 'Black' from the equation of whose lives matter, and then fail to acknowledge it came from somewhere, you further a legacy of erasing Black lives and Black contributions from our movement legacy."[20] In a video interview with Laura Flanders, Garza said that "changing Black Lives Matter to All Lives Matter is a demonstration of how we don't actually understand structural racism in this country".[21]

President Barack Obama spoke to the debate between Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter.[22] Obama said, "I think that the reason that the organizers used the phrase Black Lives Matter was not because they were suggesting that no one else's lives matter ... rather what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that is happening in the African-American community that's not happening in other communities." He also said "that is a legitimate issue that we've got to address."[23]

External image
  "All Houses Matter", Chainsawsuit, Kris Straub, July 7, 2016. A cartoonist uses a house fire to illustrate criticism of the term "All Lives Matter."[24]

In July 2016, USA Today concluded from the thoughts of Columbia University sociology professor Carla Shedd, that the phrase All Lives Matter could "be interpreted as racist". It also cited professor Joe Feagin, who said that white people use the phrase "All Lives Matter" to ignore the Black Lives Matter movement, which he described as "already about liberty and justice for all." USA Today reported that some celebrities who had tweeted using the hashtag #AllLivesMatter, including Jennifer Lopez and Fetty Wap, had deleted the tweets and apologized. Wap stated that he did not fully understand the hashtag.[25] It also mentioned cartoonist Kris Straub, who tweeted a cartoon titled "All Houses Matter", showing a house fire, to illustrate what he saw as the problem with the term.[24]

Andrew D. Chapman, a philosopher at the University of Colorado Boulder, has provided a criticism of "All Lives Matter" from the perspective of philosophy of language. According to Chapman, while both "Black Lives Matter" and "All Lives Matter" are true (and, in fact, the latter entails the former), the focus by proponents of the slogan "All Lives Matter" on mere truth or falsity of the slogan is either deceptively narrow or disingenuous. Linguistic meaning has a substantial pragmatic component, and the context of usage of a word or phrase cannot be ignored. Chapman concludes that, "all lives matter is being said as a challenge to the claim that black lives matter, as a way of pushing back against and drowning out the voices of those saying that black lives matter, as a way of...forcing listeners to choose whether it is all lives that matter or merely black lives (which, of course, is not what 'Black Lives Matter' means)."[26]

In July 2020, Cisco Systems fired "a handful" of employees for comments made during a mandatory company meeting which featured Darren Walker and Bryan Stevenson speaking about diversity. Some of the comments defended the phrase "All Lives Matter".[27]

On September 11, 2020, the phrase "All Buildings Matter" became a trending topic on Twitter. The phrase was popularized by comedian Michael Che as a parody of "All Lives Matter", in reference to the September 11th attacks.[28][29]

Facebook graffiti incident

On February 24, 2016, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, sent out a company-wide internal memo to employees formally rebuking employees who had crossed out handwritten "Black Lives Matter" phrases on the company walls and had written "All Lives Matter" in their place. Facebook allows employees to free-write thoughts and phrases on company walls. The memo was then leaked by several employees. As Zuckerberg had previously condemned this practice at previous company meetings, and other similar requests had been issued by other leaders at Facebook, Zuckerberg wrote in the memo that he would now consider this overwriting practice not only disrespectful, but "malicious as well".[30] According to Zuckerberg's memo, "Black Lives Matter doesn't mean other lives don't – it's simply asking that the black community also achieves the justice they deserve". The memo also said that the act of crossing something out in itself, "means silencing speech, or that one person's speech is more important than another's".[31][32][33]

See also


  1. ^ Lopez, German (July 11, 2016). "Why you should stop saying "all lives matter," explained in 9 different ways". Vox. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
  2. ^ Townes, Carimah (October 22, 2015). "Obama Explains The Problem With 'All Lives Matter'". ThinkProgress. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  3. ^ What's Wrong With 'All Lives Matter'? - The New York Times
  4. ^ Scott, Eugene (September 3, 2015). "Tim Scott defends use of "all lives matter"". CNN. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  5. ^ Foxworthy, Dominique (July 26, 2016). "RICHARD SHERMAN: AS HUMAN BEINGS, ALL LIVES MATTER". The Undefeated. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  6. ^ Samuel, Ebenezer (July 27, 2016). "Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman explains why he stands by that All Lives Matter". New York Daily News. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  7. ^ Rappeport, Alan (June 24, 2015). "Hillary Clinton's 'All Lives Matter' Remark Stirs Backlash". First Draft. The New York Times. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
  8. ^ Wagner, John (July 18, 2015). "O'Malley booed as he points out: 'White lives matter. All lives matter.'". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 5, 2020. Retrieved December 26, 2020.
  9. ^ Hensch, Mark (July 18, 2015). "'Black Lives Matter' protesters halt Sanders, O'Malley events". The Hill. Archived from the original on November 28, 2020. Retrieved December 26, 2020.
  10. ^ A, Aron (September 14, 2017). "XXXTENTACION Says "Look at Me" Video Is "All Lives Matter"". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  11. ^ Sherfinski, David (October 15, 2015). "Ben Carson: 'Of course all lives matter — and all lives includes black lives'". The Washington Times. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  12. ^ Marino, Gordon (September 2, 2015). "All Lives Matter Vs. Black Lives Matter". Commonweal. 15.
  13. ^ Weigel, David (July 12, 2016). "Three words that Republicans wrestle with: 'Black Lives Matter'". Washington Post. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  14. ^ a b c Shepherd, Ken (July 13, 2016). "Remigio Pereira, who worked 'All Lives Matter' into Canadian anthem, suspended from singing group". Washington Times. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  15. ^ Gauthier, Brendan (July 12, 2016). "WATCH: "We're all brothers and sisters": Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter activists hug it out in Dallas". Salon. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  16. ^ "Fan in gorilla suit, All Lives Matter shirt arrested at Bears game". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  17. ^ Goldberg, David Theo (September 25, 2015). "Why 'Black Lives Matter' Because All Lives Don't Matter in America". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 18, 2015.
  18. ^ Lebron, Christopher J. (September 11, 2018). The Making of Black Lives Matter : A Brief History of an Idea. ISBN 978-0-19-091075-4. OCLC 1059579720.
  19. ^ Bill Maher: Why Is BlackLivesMatter Going After Sympathizers Like Hillary and Bernie?. YouTube. August 22, 2015. Archived from the original on March 10, 2016. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  20. ^ a b Garza, Alicia (October 7, 2014). "A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement". The Feminist Wire. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  21. ^ Flanders, Laura (March 24, 2015). "Building Movements Without Shedding Differences: Alicia Garza of #BlackLivesMatter". Truthout. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  22. ^ "President Obama defends Black Lives Matter movement". CBS News. CBS/AP. October 23, 2015. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  23. ^ Tucker, Bryan; Hegg, Stephen. "Tactics of Black Lives Matter". KCTS9. Archived from the original on November 2, 2015.
  24. ^ a b May, Ashley (July 13, 2016). "#AllLivesMatter hashtag is racist, critics say". USA Today. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
  25. ^ Victor, Daniel (July 15, 2016). "Why 'All Lives Matter' Is Such a Perilous Phrase". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  26. ^ The Pragmatics of Saying “All Lives Matter”: A Critique.|Against Professional Philosophy
  27. ^ Grant, Nico; King, Ian (July 17, 2020). "Cisco fires workers for racial comments during diversity forum". Bloomberg. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  28. ^ EDT, Seren Morris On 9/11/20 at 10:13 AM (September 11, 2020). "Why "All Buildings Matter" is trending on 9/11 anniversary". Newsweek. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  29. ^ Farrell, Paul (September 11, 2020). "'All Buildings Matter' Becomes Top Twitter Trend on 9/11 Anniversary". Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  30. ^ Selyukh, Alina (February 26, 2016). "Zuckerberg tells Facebook staff to stop crossing out 'Black Lives Matter'". NPR. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  31. ^ King, Shaun (February 25, 2016). "Mark Zuckerberg forced to address racism among Facebook staff after vandals target Black Lives Matter phrases". New York. Daily News. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  32. ^ Jessica, Guynn (February 25, 2016). "Zuckerberg reprimands Facebook staff defacing 'Black Lives Matter' slogan". USA Today. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  33. ^ Snyder, Benjamin (February 25, 2016). "Mark Zuckerberg Takes Facebook Workers to Task Over 'All Lives Matter' Graffiti". Fortune. Retrieved February 26, 2016.