A simple phrase. One that should go without saying. And yet, it needs to be said.
"But all lives matter!" you say. And you're right. But nobody needs to be told that about you and me. When cops stop us, they treat us like our lives matter. They don't make assumptions based on our skin and the neighborhood we're in, the car we're driving, or the outfit we're wearing. Chances are they didn't stop us first and look for a reason for the ticket second. And if we complain, they'll probably suck it up, maybe give us some lip back, and probably give us a ticket. But it's doubtful we'll wind up face down on the shoulder of the road.
"All lives matter!" But if a cop rolled up to a park with the knowledge that a young teenage me had a pistol in my hand, and was told that it was believed to be fake, would he pull up within feet of me and gun me down? We've seen multiple instances of young white men being gently handled after mass shootings, so it's tough to imagine a target on our backs in the situation above.
"All lives matter!" But when was the last time you got out of the way of a cop only to have him stop you for not signalling to change lanes? In 44 years I've watched numerous cops change lanes without signalling and seen them watch others do the same thing. I've probably even done it myself a time or two in front of a cop. I've never heard anyone stopped for it. And it's doubtful that if they smarted off they'd wind up in jail, much less swinging from a jail cell dead.
"All lives matter!" I have had one ticket in my life. I questioned why the cop stopped me. I got out of the car and walked back to look at his radar gun. He did not get angry. He did not threaten me. He sure as hell didn't decide to shoot me in the head when I unclicked my seatbelt to do so.
"All lives matter!" But chances are that undercover cops won't gun me down in a case of mistaken identity because I'm similar to the person they were looking for, or be able to blame me in the official investigation and suffer minimal consequences if they did.
Yes, all lives matter. But simply because of the color of my skin, police and government officials don't seem to need a reminder that my life matters. Tamir Rice, Sam Debose, Sandra Bland, Prince Jones Jr. Clifford Lewis Jr., Freddie Gray Jr., Eric Garner, and countless other people of color who are killed, injured, or treated unjustly because of the color of their skin are the reasons why #BlackLivesMatter is a rallying cry and will be until justice begins to be served.