We live in a country that claims to have secured equality for all of its citizens. We stand up to salute our flag every morning, finishing our mantra with “ with liberty and justice for all.” We placed a statue by Ellis Island and named her “Lady Liberty,” establishing her as a symbol of equality and new opportunity. But for a country that takes so much pride in liberty and justice for all, we don’t do enough to ensure that it really is for all.
Among those who have suffered the most injustice in this country are black Americans. For far too long, black Americans have fallen victim to systems put in place by the American government, the first being slavery. Even when slavery ended, loopholes were found in “progressive” laws to ensure that the South did not collapse entirely with the loss of this free labor system. When slavery ended, mass incarceration began. Laws were put in place to target black Americans and to keep prisons full.
The adoption of these discriminating laws has fostered the growth of bigotry, much of which can still be seen today. Offensive slurs are used frequently and casually, and countless stereotypes persist. Black Americans are still victims of racial profiling and discrimination, a fact that used to (and should still) shock us. But we’ve become uncomfortably numb to police-involved shootings; while we don’t like that they’re happening, ignoring them is so much easier than recognizing that something is wrong.
Black Lives Matter is a movement for today’s black Americans. It’s a constant reminder that racism is still alive and well, no matter how much some want to deny it. It’s a collective mourning of the black lives lost to injustices, such as police-involved shootings, wrongful incarcerations, or the subtle bigotry deeply rooted in our everyday lives. Black Americans live in a country whose system has been rigged against them since its foundation, and this movement is representative of their refusal to succumb to the status quo. It’s indicative of their unflinching determination to achieve equality. It’s not anti-white. It’s not anti-police (though “blue lives matter” supporters will try to convince you otherwise). Black Lives Matter is a call for change, a call for equality and equal treatment.
The “All Lives Matter” movement, despite its name, does not care about all lives. It’s a reaction to Black Lives Matter, by the white majority, for the white majority. It’s a desperate attempt to be included in something that really doesn’t concern them. However well intentioned it may be, it deters from the fact that Black Lives Matter is for black Americans; they are the victims of racial oppression. We need Black Lives Matter because, time and again, black lives are the ones that are lost to the system. We need Black Lives Matter, because to say anything else would take away from the entirety of the movement. It’s between black Americans and the police, and while white Americans can support the movement, they cannot take it and turn it into something for themselves. It’s not about white Americans; it never was.
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