Last week I received a Facebook message from an old high school classmate who criticized me for posting “too much black stuff” on my social media. “#BlackLivesMatter is ignorant and rude; not all white cops are racist and, besides, all lives matter,” he said. “You’re not promoting equality.”
This message was very disturbing for me to read. As an African American, I have the right to post or discuss any issues regarding my black community. One of those issues is the outrageous police brutality against black people.
Personally, I see #BlackLivesMatter as a message that is taking a public stance against oppression, racism, stereotypes and inequality in the work force, education system and law enforcement.
I want to stress that #AllLivesMatter is only reiterating something we already know, and it allows people to ignore the message behind #BlackLivesMatter. I see this phrase and I view it as a positive message that emphasizes that black lives matter just as much as others, and we should be treated as equals. This phrase began as a response to the outrage over the number of African Americans being killed by police officers.
Since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, nearly 30 unarmed black men have been killed in police shootings as of August, according to USA Today.
Walter Scott, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and Freddie Gray are just a few names that have made their way onto my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter news feed. I share these stories on my social media in hopes that people will see the injustice and speak out against it.
The phrase #BlackLivesMatter promotes equality, if people chose to look at it in the way it’s intended. Many people see the hashtag and are filled with hostility and negativity. Consequently, the common response is, “Not only black lives matter; all lives matter.”
American actor Matt McGorry tweeted, “#BlackLivesMatter doesn’t mean other lives don’t. Like people who say ‘Save the rain forests’ aren’t saying, ‘Forget all other types of forests.’”
The phrase “all lives matter” serves no purpose because we as a society already know that. #BlackLivesMatter is saying “black lives matter too.” Over the last year the hashtag has received more attention and yet, people are still either keeping quiet or being silenced.
The Facebook message I received was telling me to be quiet. It was saying that although problems such as racial profiling and white privilege exist, I should ignore them because not talking about a problem essentially makes it go away. People either find a way to justify problems facing the black community or remain silent.
Celebrities like Iggy Azalea and Kylie Jenner are quick to defend themselves against cultural appropriation, but never speak out about matters surrounding the black community. Concerns with the racial gap in U.S. arrest rates are often kept quiet and ignored.
African Americans now make up approximately 1 million of the nearly 2.3 million in prison in America, according to the NAACP website, and “are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites.”
#BlackLivesMatter takes oppression, stereotypes, racism and injustice and says, “No more.” Black lives have been seen as less than equal and less than human in past generations. This phrase is a reminder to those who treated blacks as less than equal and a reminder to those who find it so easy to dehumanize black lives. The phrase is a positive message that is trying to convince white America that black lives are just as important, and we as a black community will no longer be silenced or tolerate being treated as less than.
This hashtag is one of many steps toward creating awareness about social and economic problems surrounding the black community and putting an end to them. In order for things to change, we have to reconstruct the mindset of society from the ground up.