The Meaning Behind ‘Black Lives Matter’

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by Rayiah R

Black America is in a state of protest. The 21st-century civil rights movement is democratic in its aims and its responses; it is fueled by grief and fury, righteous rage against injustice and institutionalized racism, and by frustration at the brutality of the state. Black Lives Matter is a unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of black people by police and vigilantes. Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of black queer and trans community, the disabled community, the black-undocumented community, the people with records, women and all black lives along the gender spectrum. It centers those that have been marginalized within Black liberation movements.

In almost every area of society, black Americans remain disadvantaged. In fact, African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million jail population and are incarcerated nearly six times as often as white people. U.S. police killed at least 258 black people in 2016, according to a project by The Guardian that tracks police killings in America. While there are millions of brave officers out there who courageously put their life on the line to protect communities and deserve the utmost respect, there are also far too many officers abusing their power. Using their uniform as an excuse to enforce their prejudice and enact terror upon black citizens in this country, which sadly in turn casts a negative shadow on law enforcement as a whole.

Tamir Rice, 12, was shot and killed by Cleveland police after officers mistook his toy gun for a real weapon. Unarmed Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. The Department of Justice announced that it too would not charge Wilson for the shooting. Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old African American student, was confronted, shot, and killed near his home by George Zimmerman, because he “looked like he was up to no good.” These and countless other black Americans both male and female have had injustice by the social and political system we have implemented ourselves. We live in a world where we voice our opinions on the latest fashion and what’s new in the worlds, but we stay silent in moments like this. Moments where lives are at stake and people are becoming angry and impatient. I refuse to sit and watch innocent men and women slowly be killed off. I refuse to have a voice and air in my lungs but not talk about the things that matter.

We are committed to acknowledging, respecting and celebrating differences. Beyond saying #BlackLivesMatter, We want to hear more about what everyone will do to ensure a world where Black lives actually matter. The intent of Black lives Matter is not to make any other race feel unimportant. In no way is this foundation saying ‘black lives matter more,’ if anything we are saying ‘black lives matter too.’ The misunderstanding of this name, surprisingly, is what causes most of the controversy. People are so upset over a simple name that they forget what this foundation even stands for. People are so mad the we are saying ‘Black lives Matter’ while we’re mad we even have to say it at all.

In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a necessity for wanting the same for others. So yes, your life does matter, and so does the Hispanic lives, and the Caucasian lives, and the Indian lives, and the Filipino lives, and and the police lives, and the LQBTQ+ lives, and the black lives, and everyone else’s lives; but until we stand up and do something about the oppression in America, nothing will change. No matter the name of your organization or how hard you try to tear each other down, the problem will still be there. We have to speak the truth, even if our voices shake.

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