Why We Say Black Lives Matter

“I know all lives matter. But I’m focused on yours now.”
—Propaganda (Jason Petty)

Preemptive Love started in Iraq—in the aftermath of 9/11, in the middle of a war where some lives were valued less than others. 

If you had brown skin, if you were from the Middle East, if you were a refugee, if you were Muslim—you were automatically viewed with suspicion. Your sons were assumed to be terrorists. Your civilian casualties counted for less than the other side’s civilian casualties. 

Your life was valued less.

We’ve spent the last 13 years working to change this reality. To create a world where we live like we belong to each other. Not just in Iraq or Syria. But in Mexico. Venezuela. The United States. And every place where some lives are valued less than others. 

This is and has always been as much a part of our work as every package of food, every lifesaving medical treatment, and every new job we provide. 

Whether it’s the part of us who are refugees or immigrants, or the part of us who are people of color, or the part of us who belong to the LGBTQ community—when we focus on these lives, it’s not because other lives matters less. It’s because some lives don’t matter equally to enough of us yet.

It is the same work, the same call that compels us to say Black lives matter. 

To be Black in America is to know exactly what it’s like to be viewed with suspicion. Black sons are too often assumed to be violent criminals. Black civilian casualties too often count for less than other casualties.

Black lives are objectively and experientially valued less. 

To say, in the face of this, that Black lives matter does not diminish anyone else’s life. No more than saying refugee lives matter diminishes the lives of those who’ve never been displaced. 

We say Black lives matter because our world has not always lived as if they do. It is built on systems and structures that value Black lives less. 

We say Black lives matter because white opportunity and prosperity have often come at the expense of Black lives. Yet no one can truly flourish until Black lives are free to flourish, unimpeded by discrimination, suspicion, bias, and systemic racism.  

We hold space for the dignity and value of everyone—but we have always stood especially with the marginalized, the oppressed, the mistrusted or misunderstood, and the unheard. And we always will. 

That is why we say refugee lives matter. Why we say LGBTQ lives matter. Why we say Black lives matter. 

And that is why we keep working for a world where all of us can rise.

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