The ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement got its start back in 2013 with the killing of Trayvon Martin. There are still too many people who still don’t get it.
What’s the first thing that pops in your head when you see a protester waiving a sign that reads, “Black Lives Matter?”
For too many people — for too many white people — their immediate response is always, “All lives matter.”
The two sides didn’t understand each other in 2013 when the slogan first came into being. Unfortunately, seven years of protests hasn’t provided the clarity needed to bridge that gap in understanding.
It’s entirely possible, I admit, that there are far too many people who secretly do understand the slogan’s meaning but stubbornly refuse to acknowledge it. But there are far more who don’t want to understand it. So they ignore it.
And in doing so, they allow the same problems that created the growing racial divide to keep growing.
It’s beyond time that people understand what “Black Lives Matter” means. Even if they don’t agree, they should at least figure out it.
It was back in 2015 that I had the chance to meet the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who visited Charleston in the aftermath of the Mother Emanuel AME Church shootings. That case, in case you’ve forgotten, involved a white Supremacist who gunned down nine parishioners of a historically black church in downtown Charleston. The FBI said while being interviewed, the gunman said he hoped to start a race war.
He failed, though the past few weeks might make it appear a race war is what we might have. (If there’s any consolation, that gunman still can’t claim responsibility.)
Jackson met with a small but diverse group of us and talked about the movement. He explained what was already obvious to some of us: When someone uses that phrase, there’s a fourth word that’s understood to some, but not to all.
What they really are saying is “Black lives matter, too.”
People still don’t get it.
I’ll be honest: I think the reason many don’t get it is just simply because they don’t want to.
That speaks volumes about them.
I see conversations on Facebook all day where people go back and forth about things like this. Angry white people respond with, “All lives matter!” They usually render it in all caps to shout their message back in the faces of their “opponents.”
They don’t see or here that little too Jackson referred to.
Because they don’t want to see it. They’re too busy reading into the phrase an intent that no other lives except black lives should matter. They’re too determined to find a reason to be insulted rather than a reason to actually stop and listen.
Actor Ashton Kutcher posted an emotional video on his Twitter feed on the BLM movement. I encourage you to listen to it…if you’re capable of doing so with an open mind.
I’m not kidding: If you aren’t capable of being open-minded for two minutes, close this tab and browse elsewhere.
But if you’re smart enough to be able to actually listen, here you go:
I sincerely hope that the next time you hear someone say, “Black Lives Matter,” you’ll think twice — and then some — before belting out, “All lives matter.”
It’s not the same thing. It’s not a valid answer.
And more of you than wish to admit already know better.