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The Problem with Humanism and “All Lives Matter”

By March 23, 2016 14


Wait, don’t ALL lives matter?

They sure do.

Then #AllLivesMatter.

Nope. #BlackLivesMatter.

So only black lives matter?

No. All lives matter but black people are not included in the term “all lives” due to deeply ingrained institutional racism that has existed in this country since the establishment of slavery and has never left because it’s just not that easy to get rid of racism.


And there is a perfect ending to that unfortunate conversation. But sadly, there is never such a clear understanding on such a controversial topic. Instead, we must analyze this issue much deeper in order to arrive at that glorious epiphany that so many of us have yet to reach.

Let’s start with Humanism. Humanism is a secular philosophy based on the placement of greater value on logic and human potential rather than faith and religion.

This definition of Humanism is the underlying philosophy of the argument that “all lives matter.” Because if the focus is humanity and we are listening to reason, the obvious conclusion is that we are all equal. Therefore, ALL lives should matter. The important word there being SHOULD.

Unfortunately, racism has become so ingrained in our society that a philosophy like Humanism is far more promising than the actual world we live in. Humanism, while a nice idea, simply isn’t working for everyone.

By focusing on “all lives,” we focus on universal issues that affect everyone. This leaves no room for the issues that are unique to specific groups of people. Instead of focusing on racially charged police brutality against Black Americans, we focus only on issues that everyone can relate to.

Everyone being the majority. Everyone being White Americans. Basically, if a White American has not experienced the issue, it doesn’t even exist.

So when one says “all lives matter,” they are not promoting equality. They are assuming equality has already been established. But, sadly, equality has not been established yet and, therefore, the term “all lives” still does not include everyone.

Also, let’s not forget that most of the people that claim “all lives matter” do so in protest against the Black Lives Matter movement.  Let’s face it, if you can’t even agree that “black lives matter” then you don’t really even believe that “all lives matter.”

If you really believed that “all lives matter” then you should have no problem accepting the Black Lives Matter movement because black lives should be included in your value for “all lives,” right? Nope. Because you don’t really value black lives. You value your own faulty definition of “all lives” which is really just your way of saying “white lives.”

An article by ThinkProgress quotes President Barrack Obama’s perfect explanation of this controversial issue at a criminal justice discussion panel. “I think the reason that the organizers used the phrase “black lives matter” was not because they were suggesting nobody else’s lives matter,” he stated, “What they were suggesting was, there is a specific problem that is happening in the African-American community that’s not happening in other communities. And that is a legitimate issue that we’ve got to address.”

The concept of Humanism has also been used against and in place of Feminism. Many men and women prefer to refer to themselves as Humanists instead of Feminists, using the same logic that is used for the “all lives matter” argument.

The argument here is that if women are equal to men then why is it called “Feminism”? Why should we focus on women’s issues when we could just focus on gender neutral issues?

And we can use the same reasoning to refute this argument. By focusing on gender neutral issues, we only focus on issues faced by both men and women, completely disregarding the issues faced solely by women or faced solely by men.

We don’t focus on rampant sexual assault against women or reproductive rights or everyday sexism. We don’t focus on socially constructed and false concepts of masculinity that men struggle with.

This is not to say you have to call yourself a Feminist. This is only to refute the use of the term “Humanist.” Humanism is a great philosophy and one that we can really be inspired by. But as mentioned in an article by Everyday Feminism, “Humanism is not a word for a social change or political movement as feminism is.”

Aligning yourself with Feminism is a much more powerful stance than simply believing in humanist principles.

Humanism does not carry with it the weight that it could in a world in which equality has been established. But we haven’t achieved that status as a country and, therefore, Humanism is not the ideology we need right now.

We don’t need an ideology that asserts the inherent equality of all people. We need an ideology that is going to achieve the tangibility of this inherent equality.

We need #BlackLivesMatter. We need Feminsim.







  • Ross

    BlackLivesMAtter at least from its inception, was predicated on the understanding that there was a huge Police problem in the US and that they target the black community. I see this is more than a bit true. There is a HUGE problem with police and whilst racism does exist, I think the cop problem is not overall as selective and targeted as that. Police unfortunately since 9/11 have been given more power, less accountability and fed an adversarial attitude directed towards, NOT possible terrorists, but its own citizens (including black people in US).
    Something had to give and something has.
    BlackLivesMatter seems to be “it”. But then I look what is done in its name and said in its name. The things argued in its name, The examples of its martyrs and examples of police brutality and unreasonableness.
    Most of it weakens credibility of the movement. There has GOT to be a hundred of examples of police excess force and violence than Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin. There has to be far better spokespeople than Deray and Shaun King and the like. The activism I see always seems to have a racist anti-white undertones. Violence seems to be directed at whomever and for whatever purpose and often the people protesting seem to have no real idea of the issues or are able to articulate them.

    Not a fan. Would have liked to be. I can not tell you how much I dislike the police state.

  • CandidoCandide

    “The argument here is that if women are equal to men then why is it called “Feminism”?
    One of the many ways to decline bigotry…
    and this one really takes the cake:
    “Humanism is not a word for a social change or political movement as feminism is.”
    It’ll be the battle cry that we’ll use to whip your arses, my dear crusader.

  • Jpz Zaccone


    You and this hypothetical humanist are clearly talking past eachother. You CANNOT define yourself as a humanist when, if someone says that life has inherent value and worth, and you respond with “no”.

  • Connor McKeown

    “there is a specific problem that is happening in the African-American community that’s not happening in other communities”
    Well then, I guess even Obama is a complete moron (which is a shame), since the American police kill about twice as many whites as they do blacks

  • James RePass

    Not only do humanists mean all lives, including those of all sexes and races, which immediately throws your entire article out the window, but you offer nothing empirical, nothing but emotion anywhere in the piece.

    This is why more and more people are becoming, or at least aligning similarly, with humanist ideals of rationality and evidence, rather than emotionalism and hyperbole.

  • Doubt Everything

    The fact that you so easily dismiss facts and presume racism says something about your own prejudices, i think. The fact that YOU are a racist, doesn’t mean everyone is. Just give people their own responsibility back and stop pretending there are no other things at work than racism. Black people are NOT helped by everyone sobbing about their past and patting them on the back. Black family life is messed up, blacks are not finishing school and blacks are funneling their hatred for whites and eachother into crimes. Start by reaching out to young black people and teaching them worthwile lessons instead of giving them more reasons to perform under their potential. I understand that blacklivesmatter is about informing people about the problems of black people and is therefore not the same as alllivesmatter, but it would be so much more useful if an organisation like that would be used to actually help, instead of being used only to hate. White people are NOT all racists, most of them, even in the past, had nothing to do with slavery, and it took the combined effort of BOTH black and white people to abolish slavery. Racism is not easily erased, but to keep pointing at it long after the relevance has faded only fuels it more, on both sides. Many people in the blacklivesmatter movement are racists themselves (racism here meaning, to judge and treat people differently based on race, not the whole extra nonsense about “institutionalised racism”), because the movement doesnt aim to help black people, but to blame white people. That is no fertile ground for future progress.

    • Michael Shulski

      Hilarious. You doubt everything except your reactionary political philosophy. Go watch Fox News.

  • Kevin Tipan

    This has to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever been at the misfortune of skimming. You’re a terrible “journalist” and a terrible person. I don’t know but I think the only lives that don’t really matter that much are people like you.

  • Warp

    In other words:
    “I think all lives matter, no matter what the skin pigmentation.”
    “You are lying. You are not including black lives there.”
    “I said all lives matter. Every single one.”
    “You are lying! You are lying! I can’t hear you! Lalalalaaa!”

  • pillznarry

    ffs You’re a fucking idiot.

  • Lpwn Wolf


    When you pull a gun on a cop doing his job…
    When you bash a man in the face to steal their wallet…
    When you break into a place to burgle it…
    When you knock down a woman and rape her…

    Your life doesn’t matter once you step over that line and piss it away.

    So tired of moronic idiots rioting because some moronic criminal got his ass shot down in the street doing something that would shame their mother.

  • Fadadio

    all lives matter DOES include black lives.

    Please learn to use that head of yours

    • siphersh

      No, it doesn’t. “Black lives matter” implies that some people don’t care about black lives as much as white lives, and it implies that this should change. How can you honestly miss that? It’s difficult to believe that you honestly don’t perceive this obviously intended implication of the slogan. If you want to say that there’s no racism, then say that. Don’t hide behind this silly, pretend misunderstanding.

      • Fadadio

        ” If you want to say that there’s no racism, then say that. Don’t hide behind this silly, pretend misunderstanding.”

        Nice Strawman, now do you have anything of value to add?

        “No, it doesn’t. “Black lives matter” implies that some people don’t care about black lives as much as white lives”

        Other than KKK members who the hell is trying to argue that white lives matter more?

        If anything when a black person is killed by a cop its gets front page all over the news outlets and when a white person is shot and killed its no big deal

        All lives matter includes all lives and black ones as I mentioned above, please learn to read and comprehend before spewing nonsense