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I'm seeing many different sources saying that Cambridge professor Priyamvada Gopal said "White lives don't matter" in an interview recently.

Is there some greater context I don't know that makes this less vile?

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Is there some greater context I don't know that makes this less vile?

Yes. Context matters.

The English Premier League (the top English football league; soccer league for those in the US) replaced the names of the players on their jerseys with Black Lives Matter for the first twelve games of the renewed season.

English football player with "Black Lives Matter" on the back of his jersey

Opposing English football players with "Black Lives Matter" on the back of their jerseys


Some fans did not like this, but English football stadiums have no fans thanks to COVID-19. So some of Burnley fans hired an airplane to tow a banner over the Manchester City-Burnley match:

"White lives matter Burnley!" banner

Burnley, along with the Premier League as a whole, strongly condemned the flying of banner. The fans who flew the banner face a lifetime ban from the stadium in which Burnley plays their home games.

Priyamvada Gopal also condemned the flying of the banner with the tweet "White lives don't matter. As white lives". She went on to explain what she meant by that tweet:

Gopal told the Guardian that her tweets were opposing the concept of whiteness – the societal structure that presumes the superiority of white people – and not attacking white people. But this had been misunderstood by many and used as a tool by others, she said.

When she had said “White lives don’t matter. As white lives,” she had meant their value should be inherent and not linked to ideologies around race, she said. “Whiteness does not qualify someone to have their life matter; the life matters but not the whiteness.”

She added: “You cannot oppose Black Lives Matter with ‘white lives matter’ because they are not comparable. Whiteness is already valued but blackness is not.”

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    That Man City beat Burley 5-0 in that game is irrelevant. – David Hammen Jun 26 '20 at 18:10
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    @DonThousand You might interpret it that way, but it's use suggests it's more about rejecting the premise of BLM in the first place, which is that cops are running around killing unarmed blacks. It's kind of a reductio ad absurdum, as to say "of course black lives matter, all people matter, but your premise is false." – fredsbend Jun 26 '20 at 21:15
  • That being said, this is almost exactly like the "it's okay to be white" poster hangings incident several years ago. – fredsbend Jun 26 '20 at 21:17
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    @user24670 It could, if you really insisted on arguing in bad faith. Since we try not to do that here, it can't. – Shadur Jun 27 '20 at 11:38
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    @user24670 - Consider two hypothetical situations involving a convenience store robbery in the US. The only difference between the two is that in one the convenience store manager tells the police the robber was black, and nothing else, while in the other the manager tells the police the robber was white, and nothing else. In one of these situations the police kill an innocent person of the matching skin color. In the other, the police merely push the manager for more information. This is not all that hypothetical, and this is why BLM. – David Hammen Jun 27 '20 at 12:24

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