Black Lives Matter
Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...
The official movement began in 2012 after George Zimmerman was acquitted for murdering Trayvon Martin under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Defense (something that was not allowed in the defense of Marissa Alexander, convicted of aggravated assault in the same year for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband). It began as a conversation between friends on Facebook and quickly grew from there, built into a movement by Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors, who organized freedom rides after the death of Michael Brown in Saint Louis. It is an inclusive movement that is not focused on just cis black males but also women, those in the LGBTQ+ spectrum, the disabled, and undocumented immigrants. It’s not unlike the NAACP, an organization designed to protect the civil rights of black people. In fact, at the 2016 NAACP convention, their theme was “Our Lives Matter, Oure Votes Count.” The only real difference between them is that the NAACP is focused on legal methods and lobbying while BLM is a grassroots social movement. Different sides of the same coin.
Philando Castile was a black man who was pulled over and informed police that he was carrying a legal, licensed handgun and was shot to death in front of his girlfriend and her child. Jared Lee Loughner was a white man who shot thirteen people and killed six, and although injured himself, he was taken alive. Eric Garner was a black man illegally selling cigarettes on a New York street when police put him in a headlock, asphyxiating him as he wheezed that he couldn’t breathe. James Holmes was a white man who killed twelve and injured 70 in a movie theatre and was arrested, alive and uninjured. Tamir Rice was a twelve year old black child with a BB gun killed by a police officer who heard a report of an armed man and shot the boy within seconds of getting out of his car, without warning, without even speaking to him. Dylann Roof was an armed white man who killed nine black people in a church who was taken alive, allowed to have fast food after he was arrested, and then fetishized as “attractive” by people over the internet (no, I’m not linking to that; it’s disgusting).
When they say Black Lives Matter, it is often responded to with “All Lives Matter” or “White Lives Matter”, but the point of the movement isn’t that either of those things isn’t true. It is that only one of them is. We live in a society where a twelve year old black boy can be shot by a police officer who thought “threat” before anything else, but a white mass murderer can be arrested. People have called them “anti-police”, but they aren’t, as Alicia Garza said herself. They believe violence against police officers is wrong, and that policing should be “accountable, transparent, and responsible.”
People of color are saying this because they’re being hurt, they’re being killed, they’re told that protesting is “disrespectful” or “not winning anyone to their cause”, and that it’s “Not what Martin Luther King Junior would want.” Despite the fact that that’s exactly what the Civil Rights Movement did and he was hated by white people in his time to the point that he had to carry a gun with him wherever he went and, oh yeah, he was assassinated.
Black Lives Matter isn’t a political statement. It’s basic human decency.