Black Lives Matter peaceful protest starting in Hyde Park on March 6th 2020. Credit: Katie Crampton/Wikimedia Commons

Why “Black Lives Matter” Matters

Read Maddie’s op-ed on Black Lives Matter.

The Black Lives Matter movement hasn’t stopped since it began years ago, but this spring, something happened that caused that group of people to fight even harder and louder for social justice. The death of George Floyd was not the first brutal killing of a black man by a police officer, but his death shocked our country and caused the movement to get louder.

People of color have been oppressed for hundreds of years, starting even before slavery in America. You would think that our society would move on from our prejudice that black people are inferior, that stems from that time period, but sadly we as a society continue to treat them unfairly.

One issue that has gotten very bad over the last decade in particular is the abuse of power from police. Police officers have continued to treat black people differently when it comes to the law. Sometimes it has gotten to the point of physical violence and/or lethal force. The fact that a police officer is supposed to keep people safe, and yet they are shooting innocent people because they are uncomfortable with the color of someone’s skin, is disgusting. Police go through a maximum of six months of training to be able to correctly perform their jobs. But these cops that are shooting black people with no reason at all were never taught to shoot unarmed people that are not a threat to them during that training. George Floyd was no threat when his neck was kneeled on in the middle of the street for nine minutes. He died that day because police officers were cruel and unfair. 

After Floyds death, people across America fired back with protests to fight for justice. It took three whole days to arrest the cop who murdered George Floyd. He was recorded as he killed George Floyd. Why did it take three days to charge a man with murder even though there is footage of him using extremely excessive force. George Floyd, who had allegedly passed a counterfeit $20 bill, was killed by that cop. There is no justification for why he was killed over such a minor charge as he shouted “I can’t breathe” more than 20 times. 

As the protests went on in many different cities throughout the country, the media began to popularize showing these protests. The only thing is, the protests being shown are the violent ones that make Black Lives Matter seem like a bad cause to fight for. Rarely was footage shown of the many peaceful protests where some police officers took a knee along with protesters, people simply marched around the streets, lied down on the ground, and even danced together as a sign of unity. By showing the violence instead of the peace, it makes people more likely to oppose the movement.

Now, to my main point, saying All Lives Matter instead of Black Lives Matter is wrong. I agree, all lives should matter. But the fact is, black people aren’t treated as equals in this country. Saying All Lives Matter is just another way of selfish people denying it. People that support All Lives Matter say that Black Lives Matter means to give black people more rights than white people. That is not the meaning of the phrase. These people just feel threatened that they might not feel superior to another race anymore, but an equal. 

Let me put it like this; there are three houses next to each other. One of the houses is on fire. What are you going to do? Are you going to hose down the house that is swallowed in flames, or are you going to water all three? The house on fire is the black people who are oppressed, and the others are white people. The choice between helping the damaged house and “keeping it equal” is up to you. The difference is, keeping things equal is not keeping things the same.

People are now making this a political issue, which unfortunately it has become one of the components to consider when voting for a candidate. However I think everyone needs to know this; Black Lives Matter is not a political issue, it is basic human rights, and if we as a society can’t come to terms with this soon enough, I don’t see how we can move forward.

To become a patron of the Black Lives Matter movement, check out the links below to donate or to research the issue further!

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