#BlackLivesMatter: Why #AllLivesMatter is a distraction – Kevin Womack / Morehouse College

morehouse 3We are living in a strange and scary world right now. We are living in a world where sometimes it’s not safe to live as yourself because you could be killed by someone who doesn’t approve of what you look like or what you stand for. We are living in a nightmarish hell of déjà vu, where the highest trending topic on our Twitter timelines seems to be the systemic murder of an entire race. We are living in a system that, rather than lift up people of color, drags them down and keeps them grounded with fear and the threat of violence. This is where we stand in our world today.

Currently, news on race-oriented killing is flooding our internet searches, media airways, and politics in a seemingly ceaseless vortex of debate, statistics, opinions and jargon. To deal with the constant flow of information, social factions have formed to allow youth to inform themselves, align with a social stance, and speak their minds on modern issues via social media. Following the disturbing death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 and the subsequent acquittal of his murderer, George Zimmerman, arguably the most popular social movement of our generation was formed under the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. This viral campaign was created as a platform for Blacks to peacefully protest and speak out against prejudice. #BlackLivesMatter is now a legitimately organized movement with international participation from Blacks and advocates of other races alike, all joined together behind the mission of total Black liberation. Though, in an unforeseen twist, a competing hashtag campaign, #AllLivesMatter, was spun into existence following the rise in popularity of the #BlackLivesMatter posts on Twitter.

This new hashtag was not welcomed with comparable support, and even now continues to face pushback on social media from those who believe that it is an underdeveloped and narrow-minded deterrent from the real issue at hand: the marginalization of the Black community.

In theory, the #AllLivesMatter movement was to be a unifying and more inclusive campaign that sought to push the notion that everyone’s life matters in the frame of society, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. However, the movement was instead perceived as an effort to disenfranchise #BlackLivesMatter and draw attention away from the injustices that African Americans are facing today. I pose this question to advocates of #AllLivesMatter and to the public: if #AllLivesMatter doesn’t support #BlackLivesMatter what is the campaign really about? Realistically, if #AllLivesMatter supporters really did believe in the message behind their hashtag, they would publicly support and fund the efforts of the #BlackLivesMatter movement rather than separating themselves completely, distracting people from the pertinent problems, and refusing to protest.

According to blacklivesmatter.com, every twenty-eight hours a black man, woman, or child is murdered by police or vigilante law enforcement. With the rate of killings so shockingly high within the African American race alone, shouldn’t the conversation around police brutality and violence be held with respect to and outright acknowledgement of Blacks in the United States specifically? I believe so. I believe that, at a time like this, achieving understanding is far more important than being politically correct. Frankly, I agree with the idea behind #AllLivesMatter and genuinely believe that the intentions behind the hashtag were noble. However, I don’t think our world will ever change unless we face our ugly truths. We need to recognize that primarily Black lives are the ones being murderously robbed in our nation’s concrete jungles and that a movement like #AllLivesMatter is utterly unnecessary at this point in time.

W.E.B. DuBois, a civil rights activist and author during the Harlem Renaissance, once described progress as being “necessarily ugly”. This philosophy beautifully applies to the here and now in America. It’s time to acknowledge what’s really going on in our country and buckle our seatbelts so that we may begin a complete overhaul of our social system. At the present, we are not in a sustainable place in society for people to coexist and the last thing we need is a movement like #AllLivesMatter, which has proven only to distract and divide people even further. As a society we need to lace up and power through the ugly so that we may, one day, look back and recognize progress. Now is not the time for #AllLivesMatter. Now is not the time to turn a blind eye to the many African American corpses that have been laid to final rest by legal authority. Now is not the time to be timid and accept where we presently stand. We must now be bold and power through our demise; and eventually we will be able to declare that all lives really do matter and claim victory over racial injustice in the name of every citizen who calls America home.

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