Watch CBS News

Protesters, Experts Say Counter-Demonstrations To 'Black Lives Matter' Movement Miss Important Message

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The message "Black Lives Matter" can be heard around the globe, but you don't have to look far to find a counter message -- "All Lives Matter."

To some, it seems like an all-inclusive response, but not everyone agrees.

The "Black Lives Matter" mantra is a sorrowful rallying cry, and at times, it's answered with the retort "All Lives Matter."

It's an obvious sentiment, but in this moment, it's seen as twisting the "Black Lives Matter" message just when the nation is focused on the deep wounds of racism.

It's unleashed a flurry of explainers.

"I don't think that the people that are posting 'All Lives Matter' should be canceled. I think they should be educated," actor Ashton Kutcher said in a video posted to social media.

"Now I realize it is dismissive," author Julie Borowski said in another video.

"For example, if you ran into someone that was trying to raise awareness for breast cancer, and then you said, 'Whoa, wait, there are other types of cancers, too, you know? That is not cool,'" one social media user explained.


Sometimes it's stated in quiet posts, but all times it's hurtful, says Sydney Daniel, a Long Island nurse who has heard it shouted in anger this week.

"It's how they're saying it. It's kind of like, 'All lives matter, so just go home, what's the issue?'" Daniel told CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff. "Some people don't even know how racist they actually are by that comment."

It's dismissive of a painful history that black lives have not appeared to matter to everyone, born out of the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin.

Hofstra University professor of rhetoric Tomeka Robinson says the "All Lives Matter" response tries to remove race from what needs to be a race discussion.

"It is tone deaf, and they don't get that what they're saying is de-racializing a movement, but there are certainly some bad actors that absolutely are using it as a way to silence and a tool of further oppression to say, like, 'We shouldn't deal with this, this is not a real issue, this is not an American issue,'" Robinson said.

PHOTO GALLERY: George Floyd's Death Prompts Days Of Protests In NYC

Yet others say "all lives" is an expression of support for police, saying the vast majority do their jobs honorably.

"'All Lives Matter' simply says that we as a people, we as human being, we as mankind need to live together and to be able to survive peacefully, and it's not an insult," said Eric Koppelman, founder of iRadio USA.

That's not the way Francesca Miranda hears it. The "Justice for George" organizer thinks the counter-slogan misses the point.

"When you say 'black lives matter,' you don't say only black lives matter," she said.

Protesters say you wouldn't need a "Black Lives Matter" movement if all lives truly mattered. Implied in the slogan is an unwritten word: black lives matter also.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.