All Lives Matter directly rejects the mistreatment of the black community by broadening an intentionally focused message. It’s not about all lives right now, right now, it’s about black lives.
In Central and East Africa, the illegal poaching of elephants for their ivory has become a threat to the survival of the species. To combat this issue, a series of foundations were started to help raise awareness and funds to address poaching head-on. This is how to collectively tackle injustice—directly. It’s about tightening the focus, not widening it. Now imagine if instead of addressing this issue in this manner, a series of campaigns and programs were launched that called for the protection of all animals. It would be a nice notion, sure, but it wouldn’t do much in the way of protecting the elephants.
Black Lives Matter was created by three African American women (Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi) as a response to a series of unjust deaths of African American men at the hands of law enforcement. It began as a social media hashtag following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Travon Martin and later blossomed into a robust national movement.
The reality is, Black Lives Matter exists because black lives haven’t mattered; it’s a response, it’s a call for change—it is not an attack.
There are systemic and cultural issues within law enforcement in the U.S. that need to be addressed, but pervasive mutual exclusivity tends to prohibit us from having this dialogue. There is no gray area, either you’re pro-police or anti-police—which is patently ridiculous. There is absolutely no reason why a person cannot have a great deal of respect for the police and recognize the inherent difficulty of the job, while acknowledging the mistreatment of the black community at the hands of law enforcement.
We, as a society, must do better than this. No more sweeping this under the rug, no more. There is a problem here that needs to be addressed, and by responding to #BlackLivesMatter with #AllLivesMatter we are shifting focus away from the problem.
We have to be able to talk about these things.
Human beings are not infallible, police officers are not infallible, and a system that has fostered decades of injustice should probably be dismantled, or at the very least, entirely restructured.
This will never happen if everyone simply burrows down into themselves and places their hands over their ears and eyes. We need to listen to one another and not be so entrenched in our convenient myopia. We can no longer afford to build barriers and stand blindly behind them in service of the status quo.
F*ck the status quo. Let’s evolve. Let’s utilize the beautiful electric sponges forever pulsating in our heads to make a difference in peoples lives, to effect positive change.
If all lives mattered, there would never have been a Black Lives Matter movement.
by Jesse Mechanic