Gerald (Jerry) Zezas

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Black Lives and Truisms

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Webster’s defines Truism as a certain kind of truth—a cliché, a platitude, something so self-evident that it is hardly worth mentioning. One can use it to accuse another writer or speaker of saying something so obvious or evident and trite that pointing it out is pointless.

When someone says, “black lives matter”, s/he is not trying to suggest that black lives matter more than white lives. But that doesn’t stop many of the less educated, or less socially aware among us from feeling the need to respond with “all lives matter”, as if to come off as intelligent, inclusive and fair-minded. They, instead, come off as idiots.

That “black lives matter” has become a catch-phrase is indicative that many black people feel the need to remind the rest of us of the fact that they do. The nuance which flies at supersonic speed over the heads of the idiots to whom I referred above is the ironic sadness over the fact that they should have to. This is similar to when, in the 1960s civil rights demonstrations, black men would carry banners which read “I am a man”. They were not suggesting that white men weren’t, only that for some reason they felt it necessary to remind white people of this most fundamental of truisms. They weren’t saying that they were men to the exclusion of all others. They were saying that they were, also, men.

And that is what is meant by “black lives matter”. It is an attempt by black people to remind whites of something that is so basic, so accurate, that only an imbecile would need to be reminded of it-a Truism. They are not saying that black lives matter to the exclusion of all others. They are saying that black lives, also, matter. And that we apparently need to be reminded of it. It is a tacit, yet justified insult to the ability of whites to understand those who do not look like us.

When whites, in an attempt to pander to other whites, say things like “all lives matter” as a counterpoint, they shine a big, bright spotlight upon the fact that they miss the point entirely. Of course all lives matter. When one group feels the need to remind us that they, too, should be included in the “all”, it should suggest to thinking people that maybe, just maybe, they are not.


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