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Why “all lives matter” is not appropriate

Letter writer responds to previous letter on rainbow crosswalk


I have to disagree with the opinion expressed by Betty Bandstra in her letter to the editor and community on July 1, 2020. Saying “all lives matter” in response to “Black Lives Matter,” is misguided because it obscures a specific message by making obvious generalizations.

Of course all lives matter. This is an inherent truth and nobody is arguing otherwise. But, to borrow a frequently-used analogy, saying “all lives matter” is akin to saying “all houses matter” to firefighters trying to save a house from a blaze, or “all diseases matter” to people marching to cure cancer.

Yes, there are other houses in the world on fire, and there are a multitude of diseases other than cancer. But those firefighters and those marchers are addressing an urgent and particular need – as are Black Lives Matter protesters confronting the epidemic of disproportionate police violence against Black people (and often other people of colour).

The statement “Black Lives Matter” is, contrary to Mrs. Bandstra’s letter, fully true, because Black people’s lives are just as important and irreplaceable as anyone else’s.

Similarly, painting a rainbow crosswalk (which seems to be what Mrs. Bandstra’s letter is actually about) is not an attack on the human rights of straight/cisgender people, Christians, or any other group.

As a member of the LGBT+ community myself, it saddens me that there is such firm resistance to something as innocuous as a rainbow crosswalk. It is a simple, but compassionate, gesture that says: “You are welcome here. You matter.” Which unfortunately seems to be a sorely-needed sentiment, given certain attitudes that have been expressed.

You don’t have to be Christian to care what happens to your neighbour or to recognize the value of every human being. Billions of people, of all religions or none, do this every day.

Holly Peterson


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