#BlackLivesMatter 101

#BlackLivesMatter has been popping up a lot on Twitter and other social media recently, but a lot of people don’t know the meaning behind the words.

Black Lives Matter is an activist movement co-founded by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. It was created in the wake of the July 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting (and subsequent death) of Trayvon Martin. The movement campaigns against police brutality in the United States against African Americans. While it began with the death of Trayvon Martin, it has also fought for justice for the countless other victims of police brutality: Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, and Freddie Gray, to name just a few.

This movement is a way for people of color to publicly shout that their lives matter. Their lives are valuable. Though they still suffer the horrible injustice of racism, Black Lives Matter acknowledges their worth. It tells the world that they have a place here too.

This movement isn’t denying the worth of other lives. A common response to #BlackLivesMatter is to reply #AllLivesMatter, or even worse, #WhiteLivesMatter. Often, this hashtag is thrown around by whites who are uncomfortable discussing the realities people of color face. We already know that white lives matter- history has proven that point time and time again. The #BlackLivesMatter movement is an opportunity for a marginalized, oppressed group to stand up and have their voices heard.

We need the #BlackLivesMatter movement because racism is an institution in this country. We read about protest after protest after protest because black children, men and women are continuing to be murdered by the people sworn to protect them. People of color are disproportionately the victims of traffic stops, random searches, etc. Prison populations are have disproportionately more black inmates than white. We need #BLM because, in the current state of affairs, black lives are not treated as if they matter. And that needs to be changed.