All-Star games are often boring, but when tenor Remigio Pereira of the Four Tenors decided to alter the lyrics of “O Canada” last Tuesday in order to suit his own political bent, he added some interest. Unfortunately, he hijacked once again the “Black Lives Matter” slogan. Honestly, can’t white people come up with anything original—do they really have to take a black slogan, change a word, and call it clever? In case you missed it, Pereira, white, in addition to altering the words, held up a little sign claiming that all lives matter. Bravo, Remigio. Enjoy your upcoming stint as a soloist.
As a white man myself, I’m more than a little embarrassed at his lack of creativity—not when we white people have a history of coming up with great slogans:
Who can forget “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” from FDR?
Or “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” JFK
Everyone knows “To be, or not to be—that is the question.” from Hamlet via Shakespeare, both white.
And let’s not forget “You know I always wanted to pretend I was an architect” from that great bald white humanitarian, George Costanza.
And now we’re reduced to stealing slogans—altering a word and claiming it’s our own? And what’s worse, we’ve stolen a slogan that, once you change the word “black,” no longer has any significance. I mean white lives have always mattered. White people have never had to take to the streets to gain justice, or equality, or fairness. We’ve never had legislation passed to insure our right to vote, or drink at a public fountain, or ride in the front of the bus. We’ve always had those rights. All lives matter? That’s as facile as “I believe in gravity.” We all do. So what?
“Black lives matter” matters. It is not divisive or racist or inflammatory—it’s a statement of fact, and to alter it so that it becomes something mundane, or worse—something seditious—is nothing more than political chicanery and, in many cases, racism.
I suggest that white people accept the original, give credit to its creator, and use it. If we can’s come up with something better, at least let’s use something truthful.