Here in Kelowna or in the interior of BC, I have found that some people don’t really understand what the difference is between the slogans – All Lives Matter vs Black Lives Matter (BLM). The slogan All Lives Matter feels kind of humanist doesn’t it? Don’t Humanists fight for everyone’s human rights?
All Lives Matter may sound better for some as they may feel that the BLM movement is discriminatory by only examining one group. Some people believe that the slogan of All Lives Matter is an improvement because it encompasses all forms of discrimination.
However, the problem is that the slogan All Lives Matter came as a reaction from the Black Lives Matter movement. The All Lives Matter slogan ignores the constant oppression and danger of police brutality experienced by Black people by grouping their issues with all other forms of discrimination.
The BLM movement is a call to action for a particular group that has experienced systemic police brutality, high incarceration rates, and racism for centuries.
“Black Lives Matter (BLM) is an international human rights movement, originating from within the African-American community, which campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people. BLM regularly holds protests speaking out against police brutality and police killings of black people, and broader issues such as racial profiling, and racial inequality in the United States criminal justice system.
In 2013, the movement began with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin in February 2012. The movement became nationally recognized for street demonstrations following the 2014 deaths of two African Americans: Michael Brown—resulting in protests and unrest in Ferguson, a city near St. Louis—and Eric Garner in New York City. Since the Ferguson protests, participants in the movement have demonstrated against the deaths of numerous other African Americans by police actions and/or while in police custody. In the summer of 2015, Black Lives Matter activistsbecame involved in the 2016 United States presidential election. The originators of the hashtag and call to action, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, expanded their project into a national network of over 30 local chapters between 2014 and 2016. The overall Black Lives Matter movement, however, is a decentralized network and has no formal hierarchy.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Lives_Matter )
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. I and my sisters went to mostly ‘white’ schools. We actually were the first ‘brown’ people to enter our primary school, but since we were Indian and not Black, we were somewhat accepted. The Black school was only a couple of miles away and I often heard kids making fun of Black people and whenever I piped in saying that I was the same color, I would be reminded by them that I was not Black. I was different.
I used to get stopped by the police for walking in the wrong neighborhood. I have had people call me all sorts of derisive names. But no matter what kind of discriminatory actions that I had faced in the States, it was nothing compared to the stories of my African American friends. It is hard to rise up from your bootstraps when at every turn, you can literally be stepped on.
There is a ladder of discrimination and how people are treated. There is tolerance, intolerance, and hatred. There is a long history of hatred towards African Americans in North America originating from slavery. And when it comes to race (and I say race only in a cultural reference, we know biologically race doesn’t really exist), African Americans in the US and parts of Canada, experience the worst systemic discrimination and are at the bottom of the ladder. Here in Canada, the Indigenous communities experience systemic discrimination in a similar way.
If you are having difficulty understanding why the Black Lives Matter movement is so important. I have a few suggestions for you to educate yourself.
13th – On Netflix, this is an exceptional thought provoking and powerful documentary which analyzes the criminalization of African Americans. If you didn’t understand the systemic racism that Black people face, you will after watching this documentary.
Black Panthers White Lies – This Tedx Talk is about what made the Black Panther Party successful, as well as politically dangerous.
What You Don’t Know About The Black Panthers Guns, berets and leather jackets are what many folks typically associate with the Black Panther Party. But the Black Panthers were instrumental in bringing healthcare to neglected communities. The reason you may not know about it? A covert government program tried to bury it.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi An extraordinary novel about the descendants of two sisters from Ghana, where one side goes to the US as a slave and the other stays in Ghana. The stories of each generation is told through the lens of history. A wonderful book. Read it this summer.
Why So Many Black People In The U.S. Can’t Swim– In the United States, 64% of Black children can’t swim. As a result, they are 3x more likely to drown than white children their same age. But how did this happen?
Elaine Massacre: The bloodiest racial conflict in U.S. history American streets ran with blood in 1919 during what would become known as “Red Summer”. In the small town of Elaine, Arkansas, racial tensions turned to riots after African-American sharecroppers tried to unionize. A staggering 237 people were estimated to be hunted down and killed in what is now known as the Elaine Massacre. The bloodbath made its way all the way up to the United States Supreme Court.
A Canadian physician and father asks if things will be different for his boys – He grew up being called “N–ger” and “monkey,” and being told to go back to Africa. Now, Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng is worried his three young sons will experience a similar struggle.
I encourage everyone to try and understand systemic racism, why the Black Lives Matter movement is important. And perhaps, you will understand why we must eliminate the same systemic racism that happens here with Black communities and Indigenous communities.
by Nina George