Anna E. Minnesota

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter is more than just stories of people blocking highways on the news. It's a fight against institutional racism.

Dear Future President,

I am speaking to you about a prevalent issue in the lives of many around the country. Black Lives Matter is a serious movement causing revolution that deserves your attention, but most importantly, your understanding.

Black Lives Matter is often misconceived. Those who are uneducated on the topic assume that the movement is anti-white. The real purpose, as explained by the founders themselves, “Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.” (“Herstory | Black Lives Matter”) The purpose is to restore fundamental rights; there was never any intention of taking others’ away. The movement began in 2012, after the murder of Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch man George Zimmerman. Zimmerman shot Martin when he was unarmed, not to mention Martin was a minor. Zimmerman faced no charges, saying it was an act of self-defense, and the law agreed. (“Trayvon Martin Shooting Fast Facts”) Since then, there have been many more similar shootings, along with consistent systematic oppression, which is why Black Lives Matter is taking action.

Not only are people suspicious of Black Lives Matter’s purpose, they also disagree with their actions of protest. The movement takes action in many ways, primarily shutdowns and protests. Though these methods interrupt the daily routine and cause chaos, in a way that’s the point. There aren’t many ways of getting the country’s attention without making some people mad. All protests are peaceful demonstrations, commonly highway or police station shutdowns. In addition to this, there are many group get togethers to discuss trauma within the black community. (“Take Action | Black Lives Matter DMV”) Social media is also a prominent voice for many who wish to participate in the movement. Tweets, live streams, videos and convenient websites all contribute to spreading their voice.

There is however, opposition to this movement. A group called All Lives Matter is a figure that distracts from the revolution. It’s not necessarily an organized movement, there is no action taking place or a fully formed definition, but it’s often what white people will revert to. The whole thing is hypocritical, because the purpose of Black Lives Matter, is to make sure that all lives matter. Black people are not saying their lives matter more. They’re saying their lives matter too, because white people already have all their fundamental rights and don’t face racism, while black people do. This is why there is need for a movement such as BLM. As explained by John Halstead in a Huffington Post article, “No one was saying ‘All Lives Matter’ before people started saying ‘Black Lives Matter’. So ‘All Lives Matter’ is a response to ‘Black Lives Matter’”. (“The Real Reason White People Say ‘All Lives Matter’” | Huffington Post) White people are afraid of their rights becoming less important, when that is what black people have had to deal with for centuries. The real purpose, is to say that black lives matter too. This is a fight for equality, not power.

This is an important issue to me because it’s become too personal. For so long all I heard were stories on the news, explaining another shooting of an unarmed black male or female. It made me angry, but I never took action because I couldn’t see a point. July 6th of 2016 that all changed. That was the day that Philando Castile was shot in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. An unarmed black man, pulled over for a broken tail light, was shot and killed in his car while reaching for his license with his girlfriend’s four year old daughter sitting in the backseat. The aftermath was caught on camera. In the video, taken by Philando’s girlfriend, you can see the police violently handcuff his girlfriend and disregard the fact that Philando was just killed. No ambulance called, nothing. (“Philando Castile shooting: What Happened After the Video?”)

Philando Castile worked at my elementary school for a couple years. He served my lunch almost everyday for a portion of my life. He was shot in my neighborhood, a few miles from my home. My family and I fell silent that night in disbelief, unsure of how any of it was possible. That was what made the difference. It’s all just stories, until you realize these are people. Fellow humans who deserve every amount of freedom and safety as you do, despite race. This why I will continue to fight for Black Lives Matter, and why I encourage any future president to make Black Lives Matter’s purpose and presence known. I encourage anyone who believes in equality to become apart of the movement, because that is the fight. Not for dominance, not to take away anyone else’s rights, but to fight for their own. Black Lives Matter is a revolution of equality.

Many people disregard this movement because they don’t see injustice in today's world. These people are often privileged, they don't see or understand discrimination, and they think the equality revolution is over. I too, once thought All Lives Matter was what made the most sense. The statement itself is of course true, but what it stands for is almost irrelevant. Black Lives Matter acknowledges that every life matters, but their own lives often don't receive the same rights. What supporters of All Lives Matter don’t understand is that injustice is everywhere, there is still racism, rights are still being revoked, and inequality is still present. They don't understand that all we want is equality. They say if all lives matter, there wouldn't be a need to say black lives matter. It's not an easy thing to face, but we as a country have to acknowledge this injustice, and fight for equality in the movement already taking place. Black Lives Matter, not because they are better, but because they are human. They deserve the freedom this country has promised too.