Yancy%2C+George+and+Judith+Butler.+What’s+Wrong+With+‘All+Lives+Matter.

Yancy%2C+George+and+Judith+Butler.+What’s+Wrong+With+‘All+Lives+Matter.

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THE STONE What’s Wrong With ‘All Lives Matter’? By George Yancy and Judith Butler January 12, 2015 9:00 pm The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless. This is the fifth in a series of interviews with philosophers on race that I am conducting for The Stone. This week’s conversation is with Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor in the department of comparative literature and the program of critical theory at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of numerous influential books, including “Dispossession: The Performative in the Political,” which she co-authored with Athena Athanasiou. She will publish a book on public assemblies with Harvard University Press this year. — George Yancy George Yancy : In your 2004 book, “Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence,” you wrote, “The question that preoccupies me in the light of recent global violence is, Who counts as human? Whose lives count as lives?” You wrote that about the post-9/11 world, but it appears to also apply to the racial situation here in the United States. In the wake of the recent killings of unarmed black men and women by police, and the failure to prosecute the killers, the message being sent to black communities is that they don’t matter, that they are “disposable.” Posters reading “Black Lives Matter,” “Hands Up. Don’t Shoot,” “I Can’t Breathe,” communicate the reality of a specific kind of racial vulnerability that black people experience on a daily basis. How does all this communicate to black people that their lives don’t matter? Judith Butler: Perhaps we can think about the phrase “black lives matter.” What is implied by this statement, a statement that should be obviously true, but apparently is not? If black lives do not matter, then they are not really Page 1 of 10 What's Wrong With 'All Lives Matter'? - The New York Times
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regarded as lives, since a life is supposed to matter. So what we see is that some lives matter more than others, that some lives matter so much that they need to be protected at all costs, and that other lives matter less, or not at all. And when that becomes the situation, then the lives that do not matter so much, or do not matter at all, can be killed or lost, can be exposed to conditions of destitution, and there is no concern, or even worse, that is regarded as the way it is supposed to be. The callous killing of Tamir Rice and the abandonment of his body on the street is an astonishing example of the police murdering someone considered disposable and fundamentally ungrievable. When we are taking about racism, and anti-black racism in the United States, we have to remember that under slavery black lives were considered only a fraction of a human life, so the prevailing way of valuing lives assumed that some lives mattered more, were more human, more worthy, more deserving of life and
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