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All Lives Matter, Meninism, and Other Uninformed Assumptions

Over the weekend, I took some much-needed time for myself after a busy week of midterms and made an appointment to get my nails done at a local nail salon. Since I live in a college town and everything is close by, I decided to make a day out of it by buying myself a coffee and listening to music on my way. Since I don’t do this very often, I was looking forward to the whole experience.

woman painting nails with pink polish
Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels

When I walked into the salon, two lovely women greeted me, took my temperature, and asked me to sanitize my hands before I entered, taking all the COVID precautions. I felt comfortable knowing that health and safety were a priority and that everyone entering the salon was being careful. Since it was a small place, there were very few people inside. Two other college students were also getting their nails done beside me, along with a woman and her niece, who I later found out was a freshman at Davis. They were deep in the middle of a conversation when I arrived and seemed to converse as if there was no one else around them. While I was by no means eavesdropping, these women spoke loudly given how small the salon was. I tried increasing the volume on my earphones to drown out the conversation but found little success in doing that. The two talked about COVID and how tired they were of wearing masks and staying home and how desperately they wanted to go back to their regular lives. This sentiment seemed normal until it took a sudden turn.
 
Things got a little uncomfortable when their conversation shifted from casually catching up to how there are “too many” minorities in America. I thought I’d heard wrong and tried my best to focus my attention on my nails but, the conversation only got louder. The conversation deviated into how ethnic minorities are taking over the job market in California and that the older woman was worried about her niece entering college this year. She went on to say the Black Lives Matter movement, which resurfaced earlier last year, caused “such a ruckus” over the past few months and could’ve been avoided if people didn’t get easily offended. Now I’m no stranger to the fact that some people have different opinions than I do, but this didn’t feel like a mere difference in judgment; it felt more significant than that. This situation was a fundamental difference in understanding.
 
As I sat there, uneasy at the conversation happening, I looked around the salon, realizing that the people present were four Asian nail technicians, two college students, one being Black and me, an Indian. Together we were a group of the minorities she was so disrespectfully talking about, of which two were the nail technicians who were directly attending to them both.
 
This interaction made me think about the people who believe “All Lives Matter” and those who feel that the equality people have been fighting for decades is just a series of exaggerated responses to a non-issue. I like to think that in 2021 we’re aware, if not fully well informed, of the grave injustices which have been occurring for centuries, yet interactions such as this one leave me questioning the world in which I reside. So for what it’s worth, here’s a simple explanation – when we talk about Black Lives Matter, no one says that everyone doesn’t deserve equal rights and respect. It’s an issue of Black people being actively discriminated against and recognizing the blatant racism. It doesn’t mean only Black lives matter or that they are above or more important than others. It means that they have centuries of trauma and injustices which they have endured. This movement is acknowledging and advocating for equal justice and fairness. 
black lives matter protesters with signs
Photo by Clay Banks from Unsplash

The way the last couple of months have panned out has been no exaggeration or overreaction on anyone’s behalf. If the situation reversed, no one would bat an eyelid or point a finger. It’s only when BIPOC raise their voices and bring awareness to an ongoing issue that people start to get mad and paint it out to be “excessive.” If your argument is that all lives do matter, you’re correct. They absolutely do. The issue is that in the world we’re living in right now, we don’t see that. If all lives did matter, we wouldn’t see so many cruel displays of racism and slander. It’s the same way “Feminism” encompasses and advocates for equality for the sexes; the term isn’t Meninism or Genderism. We’re using the root of a word to emphasize the importance of the situation. It’s when people advocate for “All Lives” and call themselves “Meninists” that the issue arises because it stops being an issue of ignorance and bleeds into blatant racism and sexism.
 
While I know the woman who was talking to her niece at the nail salon won’t read this, I hope it comes in handy for someone who might share the same sentiment. And to the niece, who I believe is a freshman at UCD this year, I hope your experience at our diverse and multicultural college campus teaches you the importance of acceptance and inclusivity and opens your eyes to the world around you. Maybe one day, you can explain to your aunt why what she was saying was incorrect and offensive.
 
Natasha is a third-year student at the University of California, Davis double majoring in Psychology and Communications with a minor in Economics. She has a variety of interests ranging from marketing and media to human rights and policy and continues to seek opportunities to explore them. Being an international student she brings with her a unique perspective which she hopes to share through her writing.
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