ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith waded into the “Black Lives Matter” controversy stirred up over the weekend when an audience, made up primarily of black people, booed a Democratic presidential candidate for saying “All lives matter.”
Smith took to Twitter and went off on a 6 minute rant on his nationally syndicated radio show Tuesday to call out his fellow African Americans for their behavior towards former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.
O’Malley, when addressing the issue of police brutality at the Netroots Nation conference, said: “Black lives matter, white lives matter, all lives matter,” which garnered an immediate negative response from the audience. The crowd ultimately booed off him the stage.
“The phrase ‘all lives matter’ in response to ‘black lives matter’ is seen as being willfully demeaning and dismissive, because ‘Black Lives Matter’ specifically counters racism that devalues black lives,” according toRaw Story.
Smith made a series of tweets today addressing the incident:
In addition to Twitter, Smith took up the topic on his radio program, asking: “What in the hell is [O’Malley] supposed to say?”
“I’m not saying that someone should not say that black lives matter,” the talk show host explained. “What I’m saying there is nothing wrong with someone highlighting that all lives matter. That is not a reason for somebody to be booed. That is not a reason for a presidential candidate to have to apologize. Apologize!?”
O’Malley did, in fact, later apologize, stating: “[W]hen I said those other two phrases I meant no disrespect to the point, which I understand, that black lives matter is making.”
Smith encouraged his fellow African Americans first to thine own selves be true.
“Don’t act like [non-blacks] need to apologize for saying all lives do matter and then wonder why a nation rife with people that don’t happen to be black, don’t appear to care enough about us when we are only not caring about them, but not caring about ourselves enough to bring the same kind of attention to the issue, when we kill one another,” said Smith.
As reported by Western Journalism, a Memphis business owner who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s made the same point by recently putting up a billboard next to his office which reads: “Black lives matter. So let’s quit killing each other.”
You can listen to Smith’s rant here:
BCN editor’s note: This article first appeared at Western Journalism.