Why we have to say “black lives matter”

This post was originally published on August 1st, 2015.


Several attacks on unarmed African Americans–mainly, the murders of Trayvon Martin, Eric Gardner, Sasha Bland, and the nine African Americans killed at the Charleston Church Shooting–have inspired a tide of protest under the banner of “Black Lives Matter.” These protestors are reasonably furious at the lack of legal action taken against those who kill black people.

But the specific, Afrocentric nature of the Black Lives movement has caused some resistance in white communities. Some people find it necessary to correct protests of “Black Lives Matter”, with the phrase “All Lives Matter.” And although, in America, life is near-always viewed as sacred, this correction is redundant and actively harmful to African Americans.

Dear white people: You are not being gunned down in the streets. A cop is not going to choke you to death on a whim. When you are attacked, swift repercussions occur, sometimes to the extent of war. In other words, your life does matter. It actually fucking matters. You don’t need to waste oxygen pointing out something so obvious.

The lives of black people, on the other hand, demonstrably do not matter–to cops, to terrorists (like Dylann Roof), and to the American media.

Domestic terrorism and the denial of black citizenship

The media does not refer to Dylann Roof as a terrorist. This is not a mistake on their part–this is a conscious undermining of black humanity. When someone kills a number of American citizens–whether for religion, political aims, or otherwise–they are a terrorist. And Dylann Roof, when looked at critically, is definitively a terrorist because his actions demonstrate the desire to spark fear in the African American community.

So why doesn’t the media call Roof a terrorist? Because to them, black people are not American citizens.

Justice for all (if “all” means “a select group of whites”)

It’s astounding how much America treats African Americans like non-citizens. Their perceived foreignness is notable even in their designation as African-descendant. In contrast, when was the last time anyone called someone a “European-American”?

If it wasn’t enough that America structures laws specifically to harm black people–i.e. the G. I. Bill, the war on drugs, and voter ID laws–now it becomes apparent that POC are being denied even the life part of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The reason why Black Lives Matter is a legitimate protest is because that statement ("Black Lives Matter") is demonstrably untrue. The actions of police and American media show that black lives, in fact, do not matter–at least, not as much as their white counterparts. That is what those under the BLM banner seek to change.