Article Written By Margaret Aliffi
Police brutality and bias is a contentious topic that’s been talked about heavily in the past few years. Deaths of several unarmed black men at the hands of police officers have sparked a national debate about police brutality and race in America. The Black Lives Matter Movement was created in 2012 after the death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman. Since its creation BLM (Black Lives Matter) has shown up for victims of police brutality and racial injustice seeking to provide support and bring attention to issues that people of color face in order to bring about change. BLM has opened up the conversation around systemic racism and how the effects of slavery and racism are still relevant and prevalent today.
As movements grow and gain traction counter movements often pop up. The counter movement to BLM manifested as #AllLivesMatter. People who claim that by specifying black lives we forget about everyone else and their struggles, however what those who argue this side fail to realize is the struggle that people of color face simply because of their skin tone. The socioeconomic factors that affect black people are things that white people simply do not face.
‘If there was a house on fire would we put water on all houses because all houses matter or would you put water on the house that’s burning because it’s the house that needs it the most?’
What people fail to understand is that by saying ‘All Lives Matter’ they’re denying the racism and the very real effects of racism that people of color face. Instead of listening to people of color about their experience and the things they face, people simply counter Black Lives Matter with All Lives Matter. However All Lives Matter hasn’t showed up to support any victims of police brutality, white or black, while BLM continually shows up to support all victims of police brutality. When Justine Ruszczyk, a white woman living in Minneapolis, was shot and killed by police after calling 911, BLM showed up to protest her death and the actions of police that weren’t being held accountable. People who support All Lives Matter did not show up.
Black Lives Matter is a movement that’s continuously criticized and demonized in the media, instead of understanding why there’s need for a Black Lives Matter Movement and what it is that the Black Lives Matter movement stands for people simply seek counter and silence the movement. When national conversation about race and police brutality is sparked we need to listen to those who have been affected and are still being affected. In order to bring about change and reform the needs to be an understanding of why movements like Black Lives Matter exist and what it is that they really stand for.
Photos by Sarah Bonakdar