#AllLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter believers are getting it wrong. There needs to be an explanation as to why these “movements” are doing an injustice to American society. I’m not Black, but I am passionate about the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and I’d like to do what I can in this fight for justice that is bound to be a long and hard one. I am not trying to cause anybody harm or offense. I am just trying to fight as much as I can to stay woke and help others do the same.
Today, I will be talking about two counter-movements that took the internet by storm, #AllLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter. These movements were derived as a response to the #BlackLivesMatter Movement. The BLM movement is one that promotes fighting for justice for a marginalized, systematically oppressed group. Let me insert a definition from BlackLivesMatter.com’s “about” page.
“This is Not a Moment, but a Movement. #BlackLivesMatter was created in 2012 after Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted for his crime, and dead 17-year old Trayvon was posthumously placed on trial for his own murder. Rooted in the experiences of Black people in this country who actively resist our dehumanization, #BlackLivesMatter is a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates our society. Black Lives Matter is a unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes. … When we say Black Lives Matter, we are broadening the conversation around state violence to include all of the ways in which Black people are intentionally left powerless at the hands of the state. We are talking about the ways in which Black lives are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity.”
BLM needs to highlight that Black lives do actually matter, because these lives are the ones that are most often treated as if they don’t (specifically in the United States). The BLM movement was not formed in the attempt to create privilege for Black people to use against other racial groups – far from it. It is also not in an attempt to “steal privilege from White people.” Congrats, White supremacists, you’ve reached a new level of egotism by thinking this. This movement was created in an attempt to seek justice for Black individuals once and for all; to change this society into one that does not institutionally discriminate against people of color. Black people need this movement because they are getting the short end of the stick for absolutely no valid reason. BLM is an attempt for well-deserved justice.
The issue with dismissing BLM and saying, “Oh, but all lives matter, not just Black ones,” is that not all lives will matter until Black ones do. Dismissing the fight that racial minorities have to endure in the United States, specifically Black individuals, is dismissing the enormous issues that need to be combatted immediately. Saying All Lives Matter is like saying, “you’re not slaves anymore, therefore you have your equality.” This is not the case by any means. Take a walk on the South Side of Chicago and then reevaluate that statement. It is so sad that I, living in a suburb of this big city with a huge Black population, have had more friends than I can count on one hand say to me things like, “my dad said if I bring home a Black guy, he will disown me.” It is so frustrating that Black individuals get targeted by the law enforcement system, almost out of reflex, much more often than their White counterparts. We are nowhere near seeking appropriate justice, and it is ignorant to think that we can put everybody on one playing field in terms of racial equality. I get that saying All Lives Matter comes from good intentions, but you have to step out of your privilege enough to see that not everybody receives the same treatment. Once we work on the BlackLivesMatter movement and Black lives truly are viewed as equally valuable to those of other races, we can say that all lives do matter. Until then, we must acknowledge the problem in order to fix it.
In terms of Blue Lives Matter, people who preach this are basically saying that they couldn’t give a tiny rat’s butt about Black people. That disgusts me to my very core. Blue lives, for those of you who may not be familiar with the term, are those of police officers. The thing here is that ABSOLUTELY NOBODY has ever said that cop lives do not matter. Police officers get thanked for their service extensively. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be thanked, but let’s not kid ourselves in thinking that they need a movement to be appreciated and treated fairly. The people who believe in this statement are taking the side of George Zimmerman, the police officer who shot a Black young man for no valid reason. The association between being Black and being a thug is still instilled in many privileged individuals – even in this generation. Saying that Blue Lives Matter, and claiming that cops who take part in police brutality are just “doing their jobs,” is simply racist. It is a modern form of racism, because people may not even realize that they are being extremely racist by saying this. Blue Lives Matter is a movement that essentially undoes the BLM movement. The lives of police officers do matter, but so do those of Black individuals whose equal (but different) bravery goes un-thanked and unnoticed.
Not all lives will matter until Black ones do.
Cover image courtesy of Time Magazine.