Black Lives Matter, which has evolved into a nation wide digital and physical movement, is one intended to build connections between Black people and allies to fight anti-Black racism, to spark dialogue amongst Black people, and to encourage social action and engagement. It began in 2013 when Alicia Garza coined the phrase #BlackLivesMatter in direct response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman after gunning down unarmed 17 year old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, FL.
The movement propelled after the Zimmerman case was followed by the of shootings of Dontre Hamilton, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice. All of the victims aforementioned were unarmed and none of the police officers involved in the shootings were convicted of any crime.
In a recent “Race Talk” interview on MSNBC discussing the negative publicity BLM has been receiving, ordained minister and community organizer Nyle Fort explains, “We’re not anti police, we’re anti police brutality…we are a movement about holding police accountable because police as an institution systemically and disproportionately harm communities of color, particularly black communities across the country.”
Yet and still, there are those who question BLM’s intentions such as Fox News host Elizabeth Hasselbeck who outraged and insulted the movement when she asked why Black Lives Matter has not been labeled as a “hate group”. Others have even attributed the trending rise of murder rates in some large American cities directly to the BLM movement, claiming “Intense use National scutiny of the use of force by police has made officers less aggressive and emboldened criminals” . Of course these are merely conjectures, as there is no evidence to support the increase or decrease of policing directly effects crime rates.
BLM has been used as a scapegoat for many negative trends and occurrences, but the most disturbing is some have gone as far to say that the recent shooting of Deputy Darren Goforth and Lt. Joe Gliniewicz were directly influenced by Black Lives Matter.
BLM is a positive, community oriented movement, which should not be confused and/or associated with the radical, immoral actions of individuals. Because BLM is not a closed organization of board members and affiliates, but rather an open collective movement of like minded individuals, anyone can be grouped in or associated. The downfall to this is that anytime something negative happens in the realm of racial tension or violence against police and government officials, Black Lives Matter will always be the first to catch blame.
According to data from mappingpoliceviolence.org, there were 24 police officers killed in the line of duty so far this year. Certainly all lives do matter, and this number should never be taken lightly, but compare that to the 815 people that have been killed by police officers this year which is an increase from last year and the year before. This data suggests that police have not been taking a less aggressive approach to law enforcement but rather the opposite. This is often overlooked as soon as soon an incident occurs such as the shooting of a police officer where many attempt to shift the the focus toward an “All Lives Matter” rhetoric and discredit Black Lives Matter for being “radical” or even “racist”. BLM’s main purpose is to focus on the issues in the Black community. In the reddit.com forum “Explain it Like I’m 5”, GreekAesthete answers the opprobrious question “Why is it so controversial when someone says All Lives Matter instead of Black Lives Matter? with the utmost clarity and conviction:
“Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say “I should get my fair share.” And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, “everyone should get their fair share.” Now, that’s a wonderful sentiment — indeed, everyone should, and that was kinda your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also. However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any!
The problem is that the statement “I should get my fair share” had an implicit “too” at the end: “I should get my fair share, too, just like everyone else.” But your dad’s response treated your statement as though you meant “only I should get my fair share”, which clearly was not your intention. As a result, his statement that “everyone should get their fair share,” while true, only served to ignore the problem you were trying to point out.
That’s the situation of the “black lives matter” movement. Culture, laws, the arts, religion, and everyone else repeatedly suggest that all lives should matter. Clearly, that message already abounds in our society.
The problem is that, in practice, the world doesn’t work the way. You see the film Nightcrawler? You know the part where Renee Russo tells Jake Gyllenhal that she doesn’t want footage of a black or latino person dying, she wants news stories about affluent white people being killed? That’s not made up out of whole cloth — there is a news bias toward stories that the majority of the audience (who are white) can identify with. So when a young black man gets killed (prior to the recent police shootings), it’s generally not considered “news”, while a middle-aged white woman being killed is treated as news. And to a large degree, that is accurate — young black men are killed in significantly disproportionate numbers, which is why we don’t treat it as anything new. But the result is that, societally, we don’t pay as much attention to certain people’s deaths as we do to others. So, currently, we don’t treat all lives as though they matter equally.
Just like asking dad for your fair share, the phrase “black lives matter” also has an implicit “too” at the end: it’s saying that black lives should also matter. But responding to this by saying “all lives matter” is willfully going back to ignoring the problem. It’s a way of dismissing the statement by falsely suggesting that it means “only black lives matter,” when that is obviously not the case. And so saying “all lives matter” as a direct response to “black lives matter” is essentially saying that we should just go back to ignoring the problem.
TL;DR: The phrase “Black lives matter” carries an implicit “too” at the end; it’s saying that black lives should also matter. Saying “all lives matter” is dismissing the very problems that the phrase is trying to draw attention to.”
BLM is not a violent movement, but rather a movement created in response to violence against the Black community. Those who can not see the unjust in our justice system by the inability of our courts to convict a police officer for the killing of unarmed civilians, or even the lack of funding and education in urban communities will never truly understand the movement that is BLM and will not cease to defame at every given opportunity. They are the affluent society who is to far removed from the dilemma’s of the urban community, and can therefore make no reputable or reasonable social commentary or contribution to the betterment of our inner cities.
We are far from the divided America we were in the 50’s and 60’s but there is still work to do. Unless we recognize this, we will never grow as a society. Every race has a unique gift of experience and culture we can contribute to enhance our communities, but we must learn to openly embrace ourselves and each other. It begins with an equal playing field for all.