I can't possibly say this better than Rachel Elizabeth Cargle did, two months ago, in Harper's Bazaar.
Black lives did not matter when they were inhumanely transported like livestock from Africa. Black lives did not matter when they were lynched by the hundreds at the hands of the KKK. Black lives did not matter when they were attacked by dogs as they protested for equal rights.
With the weekly news cycle seeming to, without fail, include the death of at least one black boy at the hands of the police, or the body of a black woman being thrown to the ground by local law enforcement, or a black child being manhandled by the services meant to protect them, my heart sinks as I cling to the desire that black lives will matter.
If a patient being rushed to the ER after an accident were to point to their mangled leg and say, “This is what matters right now,” and the doctor saw the scrapes and bruises of other areas and countered, “but all of you matters,” wouldn’t there be a question as to why he doesn't show urgency in aiding that what is most at risk? At a community fundraiser for a decaying local library, you would never see a mob of people from the next city over show up angry and offended yelling, “All libraries matter!”—especially when theirs is already well-funded.
This is because there is a fundamental understanding that when the parts of society with the most pain and lack of protection are cared for, the whole system benefits. For some reason, the community of white America would rather adjust the blinders they’ve set against racism, instead of confront it, so that the country can move forward toward a true nation of justice for all.
My personal message to those committed to saying “all lives matter” in the midst of the justice-driven work of the Black Lives Matter movement: prove it. Point out the ways our society—particularly the systems set in place to protect citizens like police officers and doctors and elected officials—are showing up to serve and protect black lives. Illuminate the instances in which the livelihood of the black community was prioritized, considering the circumstances that put us into less-privileged spaces to begin with. Direct me to the evidence of justice for the bodies discarded at the hands of those in power, be it by unjustified murder, jail cell, poisoned water, or medical discrimination.
These are the things that must be rectified for us to be able to exhale. Until then, I'll be here, my black fist raised with Black Lives Matter on my lips.