So yesterday I was on Twitter and I saw that ‘White Lives Matter’ somehow was trending. I guess I had forgotten what a war camp it can be. I clicked on it and the floodgates of tweets opened wide.
The piece of news it referred to, if you haven’t seen, is that some ‘football hooligan’ decided to fly a banner that said ‘White Lives Matter Burnley’ which led to outrage over the country. The police have decided not to treat it as a criminal offence. The banner had trailed the sky shortly after the players at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester had taken a knee in support of Black Lives Matter.
The outrage I expected…
So I expected to see a million tweets of outrage against the banner, because as we all know the contrary of Black Lives Matter is not White Lives Matter but Black lives don’t matter. If Black lives matter it does not exclude that all other lives matter. But this is taking it one step further: not only are they taking away from the movement’s legitimacy and from the importance of stating that Black lives do matter, but, by flying that banner, they are reinforcing, once again, the tyrannical rule of white privilege.
By saying ‘White Lives Matter’, they’re saying they matter more, in my opinion. For centuries and centuries, White lives have always mattered more than all other lives. For centuries and centuries, it was so normative that White lives mattered more, that it was not even explicitly states as White lives matter: if you said life matters, you were saying specifically White lives.
In this article, Adams explored the invisibility of the white ‘race’ (I don’t like using the word race, because we are one race, the human race, there is scientifically nothing about the human race that divides us into different ‘races’ – it’s a social construct). Being white was never seen (and still isn’t) as being part of a racial background: being white was the norm, the others were races. Existentially, this goes one step further from othering – I am not othering someone as equal to me and able to objectify me; I am othering someone as inferior to me, only capable of ever being an object and never a subject.
…the outrage I saw
But no, the outrage on Twitter was about the opposite. People were outraged that they could not proudly say ‘White Lives Matter’. This came about due to the fact the police initially wanted to treat the flying of that banner as a criminal offence. As we have seen, white privilege has won again. It will not be treated as a criminal offence and white fragility has once again been soothed and comforted that yes, of course, you can say White lives matter.
This is one step back. When you and I say Black Lives Matter, we are saying that it’s time that Black lives matter as much as White lives, that it is time to focus on the oppression of Black lives and work together on ending systemic racism. This banner should have been treated as a criminal offence.
Let’s not let the movement die down. Let’s not give in to white privilege. Let’s not forget. Keep educating yourself and keep the movement going.
Let’s leave our white egos at the door and let’s come down our pedestals, shall we?