On August 29, over 20,000 people reportedly marched in Birmingham, Alabama, led by conservative pundit Glenn Beck as part of reactionary response to the Black Lives Matter movement. The march touted the slogan, “All Lives Matter.”
Any illusion to embracing of diversity led by Glenn Beck should be called into question. He has built his career on making outrageous accusations and comparisons on his nationally syndicated radio show, his books and as a pundit on CNN and Fox News.
Beck once claimed the three-fifths clause in the US Constitution that counted slaves as only three-fifths of a person was written as a tool to abolish slavery. He also has characterized Mexican immigrants as “nothing but criminals,” stating on CNN in 2006 that the only reason a Mexican would come to the United States is because, “One; they’re terrorists; two, they’re escaping the law; or three, they’re hungry. They can’t make a living in their own dirt bag country.”
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Beck’s opinions clearly do not align with the sentiment that “All Lives Matter” and neither do the movement’s focus as a whole. This march in Birmingham, Alabama, was a publicity stunt, using the historic civil rights route as a platform to simultaneously undermine the Black Lives Matter movement while unifying his followers, of whom 8,500 registered at $12 a person to attend a “Restoring Unity” event at a local Birmingham arena after the march.
Beck used religion as a marketing ploy for the march, smoke-screening issues of racism still inherent in Birmingham and throughout the United States, in order to organize his fans with people of color from local churches under false pretenses. He rallied fans as an opportunity to march with him, Chuck Norris and actor Jon Voight, who was also promoting his new film, Woodlawn, which premiered in Birmingham as part of the events throughout the day associated with the march. The film, due to be released in theaters October 16, depicts a high school football team in the 1970s that come together in the name of Jesus.
The “All Lives Matter” movement, especially in the context of the march led by Glenn Beck, is disingenuous to people of color and the Black Lives Matter Movement. It insinuates that the complaints about the widespread trend of police departments across the country disproportionately targeting people of color are untrue or irrelevant.
“We can’t afford to be split. We can’t afford to split our agenda into ‘intersectionalities’ that dilute Black struggle,” says leader of Black Lives Matter in Birmingham, Alabama, Avee-Ashanti Shabazz. “Do we not see how we are distracted into sets inside and out of Black struggle, while the dominant white culture attempts to undermine the Black fight again? When has ‘all lives matter’ ever been true in America? Black Lives Matter is the movement, cause and focus. We have to see and truly understand this as a nation. The mission and goal of the movement has been to end injustice against all, yet All Lives Matter is relegating the movement to the ranks of hatred.”
The “All Lives Matter” is trying to ignore the issues of racism away. Beck’s march is an aggravated manifestation of the racial divide in how people see racism. There remains a significant lack of sensitivity and empathy shown by white people who can’t see what the big deal is when confronted with reoccurring incidences of racism across the US. Even if not overtly racist, many white people view complaints about racism as oversensitive or innocuous, but their definitions of racism come from a dominant position. The promotion and justification of white privilege is not a healthy perspective. It hinders people’s ability to understand racism and be good citizens. The All Lives Matter movement fails to recognize the existence of white privilege. This negligence blocks the possibility of mutual beneficial relationships between people of different backgrounds.