National IssuesOpinion

Opinion: Black Lives Matter is not a political statement

Photo by Ashley Clark

In recent months, the Black Lives Matter movement has taken a step into the spotlight, and unfortunately, that spotlight has not always been positive. 

Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi founded the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation in 2013 in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin, a Black high school student. The foundation works to “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.”

On May 25, Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes, and even after paramedics arrived and Floyd was unconscious, he did not remove his knee. Floyd’s murder sparked nationwide protests against police brutality, and the Black Lives Matter movement was a leading voice. 

I watched as Black Lives Matter became a cry for justice for Black people worldwide. But at the same time, people began to see Black Lives Matter as some sort of radical political movement, but it is not. Politicizing the concept that black lives matter is fundamentally racist. 

The statement “black lives matter” is not political, but a statement of fact. Black lives matter — that’s it. Anyone with any political ideology or belief should be able to say that Black lives matter, and if you find yourself disagreeing with that statement, you are also racist and align with the beliefs of white supremacists. 

[Photo of the Black Lives Matter march in Boise in June 2020]
Photo by Ashley Clark | The Arbiter

But of course, every protest has a countermovement. Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter protests sparked in response, as if the very concept of Black lives holding value was an infringement on their lives. 

Though many supporters believed that the Blue Lives Matter movement was simply a way to support law enforcement, the fact is that Blue Lives Matter was specifically created as a countermovement to Black Lives Matter. At its core, Blue Lives Matter means to oppress and silence Black people and their allies. 

All Lives Matter, however, is often used in an attempt to be inclusive of all races, when it is simply another racist behavior. If you respond to Black Lives Matter by saying All Lives Matter, you are taking away the fact that Black people have been historically oppressed. Black Lives Matter is not used to say that white or hispanic lives do not matter, it is to say that right now, black lives are in danger, and that is where our focus needs to be. 

If you still do not understand, an article from Vox by German Lopez highlights nine explanations as to why All Lives Matter is not a valid counter-statement. A comic featured in the article uses a metaphor to express why All Lives Matter sounds rather ridiculous. 

The comic by Kris Straub shows two people having a discussion and two houses, one of which is on fire. One person says “well I think that all lives matter.” The person goes on to say “we should care exactly equally at all times about everything,” and continues to hose down the house that isn’t on fire, saying “all houses matter.” Instead of addressing the house that clearly needs the attention, claiming that all houses matter mandates that the house which is not on fire deserves the same attention. 

It is disarming to see a movement as powerful and true as Black Lives Matter becoming so politicized that countermovements were created. As I said before, there is nothing political about the statement that Black lives matter. Creating Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter in response only exemplifies the problem and shows the systemic racism that exists in our nation. 

Business Insider published an article containing 26 charts that show how racism still exists, even when some believe it is no longer a problem. The charts show that Black people are more likely to live in poverty, to be homeless, to be unemployed and to receive lower wages. 

The article, written by Shayanne Gal, Andy Kiersz, Michelle Mark, Ruobing Su and Marguerite Ward, says “It’s called ‘systemic’ racism because it’s ingrained in nearly every way people move through society in the policies and practices at institutions like banks, schools, companies, government agencies and law enforcement.” 
No one ever said that only black lives matter. No one said that for black lives to matter, other lives cannot. Of course all lives matter, but right now, Black lives are in danger. Instead of arguing that all lives should matter, which they obviously do, take the time to stand up for Black people. Understand what exactly Black Lives Matter means. Attend protests, listen to Black activists and speakers, watch documentaries and films on black history and racism and most importantly, educate yourself.

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