“All lives matter” is the correct moral principle and is anti-racist.
The “Black lives matter” principle is a valid concept, but the motto could be taken to imply that other lives do not matter because it is not inclusive.
If certain collectives are to be favored, which ones will get priority? Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian are not the only possible collectives. And what of mixed races? What percentage of each racial DNA puts a person in a favored or disfavored group? Is the government to be the arbiter of the correct racial mixtures? What about non-racial collectives, such as the overweight, the weak and the uncoordinated in sports, the tone-deaf in music, the dyslexic in reading, and so on. What about the seven definitions of gender that are formally recognized by some organizations? The fact is, when rights are given based on a collective or group identity, rights are also taken away based on a collective or group identity. How would this work? Obviously, it would have to be based on which collective has the most political pull at a given time.
Philosophically and politically, racism is a form of collectivism. Collectivism holds that the unit of reality and the standard of value is the collective—such as society, the community, the nation, the proletariat, or the race. Under collectivism, each member has value only as part of a group. Psychologically, this means that the core of one’s identity is not their individual nature but rather what group they belong to. All this pushes us in the direction of tribalism, tribal warfare, racism, and injustice. If it comes, this will be the end of America.
Race is real but it is a complex issue because over the centuries, migration and intermixing has occurred across various populations. One large DNA study found about four main groups: Southeast and East Asian, South Asian, African, and European. Billions of people in the world have a mixture, in various amounts, of genes from different groups (Murray, 2020). But the real, social question is: why should you care? What is most important is a person’s moral character and competence—their willingness to learn, to pursue goals, to respect the rights of others, and to take responsibility for supporting their own lives. Race does not determine moral character, nor does gender or sexual orientation. It is possible that psychopaths will be found to have defective brains, but I leave that interesting research to the biologists. Otherwise, moral values, like all knowledge, are acquired through learning and experience and have nothing to do with genetics.
It is quite true that some White racists have embraced the “all lives matter” concept for racist purposes, but they have no right to seize control of such an important concept.
“All” means all.
If the goal is to sharpen the focus and ensure that Black lives are explicitly included in the “all lives matter” principle, the best motto would be “Black Lives Matter Too.” Other groups could do the same: Jewish Lives Matter Too, Hispanic Lives Matter Too, and Asian Lives Matter Too.
Indeed, “all lives matter” is the implicit backbone of the American Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. America was founded on the principle of individual rights and the idea that all people are equal in the eyes of the law; in other words: all lives matter. “All lives matter” is the foundational concept of the United States; it reminds us to reject collectivism and embrace individualism.