All lives matter 
 But do they matter equally?
 In theory, sure they do 
 But not so in reality
 The cry itself to uphold All
 Drowns out the strangled voices
 When they do finally rise just to fall
 By being pushed into the background
 Made to fade into the black ground
 Charred and scarred
 From the centuries of flaming hostility
 And their mere existence barred
 All lives matter
 Does not mean the same
 As Black Lives Matter
 Only you don’t feel the pain
 When you duly repeat the refrain
 A choir of casual ignorance—or hate
 With a belly full of blame
 To drown out the shame
 Of your default position
 On this board of life game
 A game for you, maybe
 But it's just not the same
 When your skin means you lose by default
 And only few gains are made
 All lives matter
 Is an empty phrase
 Meant to erase race
 While racism plays
 The same role it has always played
 white only means race, a color
 Black means that plus a unique American culture
 Your people can trace their ancestry
 To the time and the place
 When your surnames became
 And your music, religion—your culture remains
 But Black people  cannot say the same
 In America, the land of some free
 And the home of the brave
 Enough to keep fighting in spite of the pain
 Forced to become a new culture of people
 And Black was the name that your ancestors gave
 To a diverse group of peoples
 When only hints of their cultures remained
 Because the rest were murdered and buried
 Carelessly in unmarked graves
 All lives matter
 But the system won’t care
 If the people who uphold and defend it
 Refuse to prepare
 Their minds and their hearts to accept
 This was rigged from the start
 And it’s rigged to this day
 When non-white skinned people 
 Must a higher price pay
 Just to be here at all
 Don't celebrate whiteness
 Celebrate culture, the customs and ways
 Of the nation you're in
 And the ones whence you came
 But always recall
 When Black Americans look backwards
 Seeking roots for their culture
 Their vision is clear up to, not beyond
 The plantation—ancestral origins erased
 As par for the course of Manifest Destiny
 And white European supremacy, of course
 And it’s plain if you care to see it at all
 That looking forward looks too much the same
 Struggle, restriction, harm, deprivation—injustice
 The lives that they’ve lived since they came
 To this land against their will
 Yet you cry out still
 That saying “All”
 Includes Black people
 Who’ve never been included in justice at all
 Keep your heads buried in the sand at your own risk
 If you’re willing to risk it all
 On denial
 But remember
 Pride always goeth before a fall

This poem was originally shared on Phoenix Fire Press on June 01, 2020.