Black Lives (still) Matter. ‘All Lives Matter’ detracts meaning from the original statement ‘Black Lives Matter.’

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perspectives

When I hear that another African-American teen has been killed by the hands of law enforcement, my stomach churns. One of the biggest issues in the country today is racial equality, and I’m tired of hearing about another person dying just because their skin is a different color.

Born out of the Trayvon Martin case in 2012, the phrase “Black Lives Matter” has remained a phrase of unity within the African-American community. However, in response, many people have started using the phrase “All Lives Matter.” While all lives do matter, this phrase can be dismissive and puts the issue of racial inequality on the backburner. The purpose of “Black Lives Matter” is not to say only black lives matter, but to raise awareness of the issue of racial inequality in the U.S.

It also makes black voices feel unheard. Some people are so worried about being politically correct that they end up dismissing the real issue. It’s like if you get a haircut and wanted a trim, but instead the hair stylist cut all your hair off and her reasoning was “all haircuts matter.” Sounds silly, right? “All Lives Matter” activists don’t want to admit that this country has flaws and make African-Americans’ cries for justice and equality feel muffled. As an African-American, it makes me feel like I am being silenced and that my opinion is invalid.

Don’t get me wrong; all lives do matter, but issues of discrimination and brutality are significantly impacting African-American communities. A 2014 survey conducted by reason.com found that 73 percent of African-Americans believe rates of police brutality are increasing.  “All Lives Matter” supporters refuse to acknowledge the ongoing issues affecting African-Americans. “Black Lives Matter” activists are sometimes misconstrued as racists who don’t care about the good of all people, while all they really want is a change in the way police brutality is addressed.

I think the conservative media has painted a picture of “Black Lives Matter” activists as enemies of the police. This statement is far from the truth: they just want the police to be trained properly and follow procedures and protocol. In recent months, cases like Samuel Dubose of Cincinnati and Tamir Rice of Cleveland are examples of African-Americans whose lives were lost at the hands of individuals who took their authority too far. It is these poorly trained officers who are the most risky.

All lives, in fact, do matter. This is undeniable. But these problems aren’t happening to all lives. This movement is specifically focusing on black lives. These issues are real and all of us need to acknowledge that there are those who are impacted greatly by racial inequality. Expressing our rights for justice is something our country was built on.

Race is a very touchy subject, and talking about it can be hard, but it is extremely difficult in this situation not to. Young people should understand that all voices are meant to be heard, but in this specific instance, black voices are obscured by the overzealous phrase, “All Lives Matter.” We know that all lives matter, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the men and women who are tired of seeing another victim of injustice. We need to address the problem, and not be afraid to speak up about it. Black lives matter, and it is about time we start acting like it.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Jordyn Blakey at [email protected]

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