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.
“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/