SAN DIEGO — You can bet that the folks at Major League Baseball are not gonna dig this: one of the singers of the group, The Tenors, who sang the Canadian National Anthem held up a handwritten sign that read “All Lives Matter” during the song. He likewise altered one of the lines of the song to say “all lives matter.” Specifically, they changed the line which goes “With glowing hearts we see thee rise. The True North strong and free” to “We’re all brothers and sisters, all lives matter to the great.”
This may not seem terribly controversial to some, but in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement that has risen over the past few years, “All Lives Matter” has come to be seen as a reactionary response which fundamentally misunderstands — often intentionally — the purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement. And is used to belittle and marginalize the Black Lives Matter Movement.
The phrase “black lives matter” does not mean that “black lives matter more than any other lives.” If it did, sure, maybe “All Lives Matter” would be a reasonable response. But “Black Lives Matter” is a response to a society and, particularly, police, which treat blacks as lesser persons and who do not face repercussions for harming and in some cases killing black people through excessive force. It’s “black lives matter too” — a necessary statement, sadly — not “black lives matter more.”
If that doesn’t register with you, let’s try it this way:
The fact is, black people’s lives are regrettably, compared to other people’s lives, undervalued in the United States. My hope is that this Canadian National Anthem singer does not fully understand that dynamic here and, rather, he was trying to offer a message of love and inclusion, however ignorantly he was doing so. My hope is that he was not adulterating his own country’s national anthem in an effort to make some reactionary political point at the All-Star Game. But I presume we’ll hear more about that soon.
UPDATE: Following an outcry on social media, particularly in Canada, where the changing of the words to the anthem were not well received, the Tenors released a statement: