Search the hashtag #AllLivesMatter on social media and you’ll find some who equate it with white privilege and others who think it should be the broader message of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Todd Gramenz falls into the latter group. He’s opened a booth at the Minnesota State Fair and sells t-shirts emblazoned with “All Lives Matter” as well as “Black Lives Matter”. He rented the booth saying he represents Black Lives Matter, something an organizer of the St. Paul Black Lives Matter disputes.
“I feel that is what is needed to be talked about— all lives matter,” says Gramenz a 2012 University of Minnesota graduate with a degree in economics and finance. “It is something to say that black lives matter and a lot of people have pushback against all lives matter within our selves, which is Black Lives Matter.”
Gramenz says he knows some leaders of the movement say mixing the slogan “All Lives Matter” with the Black Lives Matter movement is “just like mixing cancer with Black Lives Matter,” but he offers the t-shirt because he thinks it is a positive message. “Negativity won’t help our youth.”
“There’s adversity. We’re here to teach people you can still continue to move through adversity and be successful.”
The Black Lives Matter movement sprung up in response to highly publicized cases of police shooting unarmed blacks. Since then protest and civil disobedience such as shutting down a freeway or blocking mass transit have been instrumental tactics in getting gaining media attention for the group and its message.
Gramenz doesn’t agree with those tactics, calling them the “darker side” of the movement. On Saturday he plans to be manning his state fair booth and not participating in a planned Black Lives Matter protest at the state fair because he believes it will not be peaceful. “I would love to. But if I’m 100% guaranteed that the protest was going to be peaceful, then I would be all for it.”