Black Lives Matter. Few phrases generate such raw emotions as the aforementioned. It’s a phrase that evokes unity, yet at the same time provokes division. How can three simple words affirming the humanity of a particular group even be disputed? How can a mantra seeking to lift those up who have been put down be so controversial? In response some would ask “Well, don’t all lives matter?” But they’d be missing the point. Because declaring “Black Lives Matter” isn’t suggesting others don’t. The reason it’s “Black Lives Matter” is because ever since that first slave shipped dropped its anchor in 1619, Black Lives in America have been treated as if they don’t matter.
Slavery may be outlawed today, but its evils are seared into American society, and its embers still burn. The heat is so hot, the smoke so thick it shouldn’t take a viral video of police brutality to expose the racism pervasive in this country. Racism fuels the war on drugs, it overcrowds prisons, and it passes voter suppression laws. These are modern manifestations of slavery designed to maintain a certain status quo. The passage of civil rights laws and the election of a Black president are monumental victories, yet even they do not have the power to defeat racism.
That’s why Black Lives Matter must be said again and again. But it’s not just a phrase, it’s a movement that spans the globe. In the aftermath of the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, three young Black women, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, formed Black Lives Matter seeks to combat racism in all its forms and eradicate the state-sanctioned violence that has and continues to target so many Black Lives.
The story of this movement is being written in the streets right now. People from all walks of life have joined because they understand that the system must change, and that every Black Life – just like everyone else – deserves the opportunity to thrive. No Justice, No Peace. Silence is Violence. Say His Name. Say Her Name. Say Their Names. Enough is Enough. Don’t give up, don’t give in –all lives will matter when Black Lives Matter.