A Ugandan TV network, NBS TV, on Saturday night decided to show support for Black Lives Matter protests in the United States except that the people who were paraded to dance in support of the protests were in “All Lives Matter” shirts.
On NBS’ Saturday Night Live – no connection with what is recorded in New York – the seven dancers wore black tee shirts with “All Lives Matter” inscribed in the front. They also wore white gloves, perhaps in tribute to Michael Jackson.
The backlash was immediate, from Ugandan viewers to others in Africa. The network was quickly forced to apologize, tweeting in the aftermath of the show:
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“Tonight on #NBSSNL, we rubbed many of our viewers, local and international, the wrong way when our team moved to don t-shirts labelled “All Lives Matter.” This was NOT our intention, and the outcome is far from what is expected of us. We shall do better. #BlackLivesMatter.”
NBS has since pulled every content from that show off their social media accounts. But for most Ugandans and other Africans, the mistake made by the network was the first they had been confronted with the seemingly harmless sentiment expressed by “All Lives Matter”.
The Problem with “All Lives Matter”
Both Democratic Party leader Nancy Pelosi and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had been criticized in the past for saying all lives matter while lending their voices to anti-racism protests.
But immediate former president Barack Obama captured in 2015 why the words papers over systemic cracks in America.
“I think that the reason that the organizers used the phrase Black Lives Matter was not because they were suggesting that no one else’s lives matter … rather 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,” Obama said at a White House event.
In spite of this, the movement is slammed by many, among whom are those who say Black Lives Matter is a ploy to establish black supremacy in the US.
Over the last few years, the organizers of the Black Lives Matter campaign have moved from activism on social media to triggering worldwide protests against anti-black racism.