Why It’s ‘Black Lives Matter’, Not ‘All Lives Matter’

"Hands up, Don't Shoot."

Consider this: an unarmed black teenager walks out of a convenience store. He is suspected of petty theft, and subsequently shot several times. After his murder, the media treats him as an adult, comparing him to a monster and speaking only of his size, demonizing him and effectively making his death his own fault. His murderer is given a raise, and thousands of people rally to support him.

Consider again: a heavily armed white man walks into a theater and opens fire. He injures 70 and kills 12. The police successfully detain him. The media speaks only of his success in school, painting him as a troubled kid. Everyone claims they have no idea what possibly could have set him off. His insanity is treated as the tragedy in this case.

There is a very clear issue here.

Namely, black people are disproportionately targeted and murdered by police officers due to the systematic racism that fuels much of the world. When we say Black Lives Matter, we are not saying black people matter more than other people. We are using the movement to equalize, to raise awareness of the dangerous inequality black people face, and try to some something about it. When people say All Lives Matter, they are effectively ignoring this inequality and becoming a part of the problem because they simply cannot grasp the idea that the issue is not about them.

If you are not black, it’s not about you.

Alicia Garza, cofounder of #BlackLivesMatter, says, “Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.”

#BlackLivesMatters was founded by black queer women Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi after the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012. Since then, it has been continuously hijacked by ‘more inclusive’ terms such as OurLivesMatter and AllLivesMatter. While all lives certainly do matter, these terms have completely missed the point.

Trayvon Martin was absolutely killed because he was black. Michael Brown was absolutely killed because he was black. As were Tamir Rice, John Crawford III, Eric Garner, Yvette Smith, Miriam Carey, Kimani Gray, Rumain Brisbon, and countless others. These people will killed because it was assumed they had a weapon, and they were assumed to have a weapon because of the stereotypes associated with blackness. None of their murderers have been brought to justice because, to the justice system, black lives do not matter. In order to make a stand against these blatant injustices, we have to be blunt. We have to be loud, and we have to be obvious.

Hence, #BlackLivesMatter

“Please do not change the conversation by talking about how your life matters, too. It does, but we need less watered down unity and a more active solidarities with us, Black people, unwaveringly, in defense of our humanity. Our collective futures depend on it.” – Alicia Garza

For more information on the #BlackLivesMatter movement, visit their website at http://blacklivesmatter.com/

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6 comments

  1. Consider an unarmed teenager, suspected of petty theft, starts threatening civilians and police. He is perceived as a danger to society and is shot. Race should not be an issue. I know it is, but only because we as a society make it so.

    Everyone is angry that life was lost, for various reasons. I am angry because we have let people use the the lives lost as an excuse for taking more life.
    Taking more life does not make up for one taken, even in the wrong. This just creates more hate and sorrow.
    We are on a destructive path. The Hatfield’s and McCoy’s were are war with each other so long they basically killed their bloodlines. They fought so long no one remembered why. Capulet and Montague Houses (Romeo& Juliet) were at odds and it cost them a generation of children. The stories are there to remind us that some things need to be stopped before it leads to the downfall of a family, town, city, state, country, or nation.

    All Life Matters.

    Like

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

      The point is, though, that teenager was only shot because he was black. A white teenager, as demonstrated by the police time and time again, doesn’t have to worry about being shot in the same circumstances. It is not the media that is making this about race. It is the system of privilege and racism that this country has spent centuries building. It absolutely shouldn’t be about race, but it absolutely is.

      I’m not exactly sure where you’re getting at here. Nearly all of the protests since Ferguson have been peaceful. Most of the violence was started by police. We have cameras there showing us what was going on. No one has taken more life. Except for the police. Another boy was shot in Ferguson yesterday. Antonio Martin.

      We are on a destructive path. But we’ve been on this path for centuries. This country was built on racism. There is no way around that, no way to change that. This country was built on racism, and that hasn’t changed. At this point, the only way to stop this is to fight it. This isn’t generations in the making. It’s centuries. It’s ingrained. It would take more than a miracle for everyone, all at once, to realize what is actually going on. That’s when it stops. And that required fighting. South African Apartheid isn’t over because freedom fighters asked nicely. American segregation isn’t over because freedom fighters asked nicely. The sad reality is that we need freedom fighters, and they absolutely need to fight.

      All lives do matter. But that’s not the issue here. This is about black people and a need for solidarity, not a misplaced reminder that there are other kinds of cancer, too.

      #BlackLivesMatter

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your reply.

        When it comes to the police and enforcing the laws, I cannot make an informed statement. I am not male, black nor a police officer. I can only understand that the statistics (FBI and US Census) are in favor of black males having negative interactions with other people, their race included. IF (big IF) the statistics are correct, then it would seem that the problem is not solely on the police (as an organization) but on the communities that they interact with.
        At least we agree we are on a destructive path and for a long time. I feel that it was built on the inequality of many, not just one type of people. This country (and many others) have a history of abusing a specific type of citizen. The USA has fought many wars to help protect life and change the way some nations treat its citizens. History shows that this is not a new problem.
        What is new is how we communicate about it. Everything is fast. We communicate before we can think about what we say. We act before we think about what we are doing. We yell and shout at a moment’s notice, without thinking about the consequences. Then, just as quickly, we forget and move onto the next big thing.

        The media shows us a reflection of what matters in society. Right now “Black Life Matters” is huge. This makes Black Lives worth more than any other type of life. People are making money off this social phenomenon. This takes the events in Ferguson and makes it about the media and making money. That is what drives a capitalist society such as ours.

        There are many ways to fight. Physical violence is not going to work in this fight (my opinion.) Take back the media. Make the lives that were lost matter. Solid, unbiased evidence is the only way to win this war. Support initiatives to have all officers wear cameras as part of their uniforms (there are stats showing it works.) Post video’s of successful interactions with others (police included.) Change how you are perceived by others. That is what will win this fight in today’s world.

        We are all here on the planet. Carbon based life forms, struggling to find a place to exist.
        The only enemy we should worry about is the one in our heads. The one that makes us hate another life.
        #AllLifeMatters

        Like

      2. I am black, and I feel reasonably qualified to speak on issues within the black community. All of the statistics I have come across only state that black males are the most likely to be killed by police. In addition to this, they receive some of the longest prison sentences. Based on the ongoing evidence of the sheer number of unarmed black people who have been killed by the police in the past two years alone, it is clear that many of these arrests and instances of police brutality have nothing to do with the behavior of the black people involved. Black men are victims to this society, and blaming them for racism is similar to blaming a woman for a rape. it doesn’t make any sense.

        The USA have a history of abusing many, yes. But the black community can only speak for the black community. We stand in solidarity with other oppressed people, but it wouldn’t make sense for us to stand up for them. I can’t stand up for Native American rights because I don’t truly understand them because I am not Native American. Each type of racism is different. Similar, but different.

        I do agree, however, that everything is fast and society keeps moving on without fully discussing what just happened. The protests in Ferguson are still going on, and the situation has only gotten worse but the media became tired of reporting it some time ago. This is a problem.

        Black lives matter does not make it seem like black lives are the only lives that matter. It’s not about anyone else. It’s about black people. Black lives are inherently valued on a lower level. Black lives matter only serves to equalize it. people perceiving it to mean only black lives matter only illuminated the problems in this society.

        I think you’re right and I think you’re wrong. History has shown that extreme protest is the most effective way to fight against oppression, and violence is the only way we have ever made progress. At least at the start. We can’t win with solid unbiased evidence People only see what they want to see in evidence. In the issue of racism, evidence is useless. We have to force them to see what it going on through protest. We have to scream in their faces or they’ll never hear it. History has shown us this time and time again. And it doesn’t matter how idealistic anyone is, how much they hope and pray this time we can do it different. The fact is, we can’t. There is no way to do it that way because racism is blinding and white people have chosen to be blinded by it. If it were easy to break, we would have done it centuries ago. We have posted videos of the police, we have eyewitness accounts, and they have done nothing but illuminate how sick this society is and much it truly does not value a black life. We cannot simply change how we are perceived. We can’t do that. We just can’t. The notion that we can is silly in it’s idealism. And sad, in how much I wish it were realistic. As someone who lives this struggle daily, it isn’t. It just isn’t.

        You’re wrong. I don’t know about you, but I have to worry about the distinct possibility that if I’m walking home without one of my white friends the police will think I’m behaving suspiciously and shoot me. We should worry about what makes us hate. But before that, we should worry about staying alive. I have to be concerned about being murdered by police officers. I have to be concerned about getting murdered by a hate group. I have to be concerned about getting lynched. I have to be concerned about my father accidentally triggering his life alert and being accused for refusing help. Because that happened. It’s happening now and it’s happening every single day. if you don’t have to be concerned about these things, you have no room to discuss them because there is no way you could possible understand. And I hate that. And I love that you’re willing to talk about it. This conversation is telling me that you are extremely idealistic and that, in itself, is a privilege. I don’t get to be idealistic, because it very well could kill me.

        #BlackLivesMatter

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I suppose I am an idealist. It was my choice to be that way and I realize that I am lucky that I do have that privilege to make that choice. I understand, more and more, that it is not something that is very abundant in this world. It is also a curse, because it hinders my ability to understand many things.
        Talking to you about this is amazing. I wish more people were willing to step out of their comfort zones and talk to others. Ask questions, listen, learn and understand (as much as we can.) This type of exchange is what moves us forward.
        Your replies have given me a much clearer picture of what the “Black Lives Matter” message is supposed to be, not what people are profiting from.
        It is very clear that we need a cultural shift to promote the positive aspects of life as an American who is Black, gender aside. I think this movement CAN move this change forward. Saying something CAN’T be done is failure before you even take a step.
        Posts and discussions such as this are proof that it CAN be done. We are proof that we can use the media to show a positive view of a black male. With the media’s favorite type of victim, idealist white female, no less. What we are doing now could very well be the first step to social changes.
        Thank you again 

        Like

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