What does Black Lives Matter mean?
The term Black Lives Matter can now be used in reference to the movement, the slogan, twitter hashtag and assemblage of groups campaigning for racial equality.
Critics of the slogan have described it as exclusionary, however Columbia Law Professor Kimberle Crenshaw explained that the term Black Lives Matter as “aspirational”.
Writing for Harpers Bazaar in 2019 Rachel Elizabeth Cargle said that Black Lives Matter is “a rallying cry for a shift in statistical numbers that show that people who are black are twice as likely to be killed by a police officer while unarmed, compared to a white individual.”
Why saying All Lives Matter is wrong
Opposition of Black Lives Matter have taken to responding by saying “All Lives Matter”.
Use of All Lives Matter downplays the disproportionate racism and police brutality experienced by black people.
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor of Princeton University told the New York Times that the idea that All Lives Matter has always been an assumption.
He adds: “The entire point of Black Lives Matter is to illustrate the extent to which black lives have not mattered in this country”.
Cargle used an analogy to highlight the issue of saying All Lives Matter.
She wrote: “If a patient being rushed to the ER after an accident were to point to their mangled leg and say, “This is what matters right now,” and the doctor saw the scrapes and bruises of other areas and countered, “but all of you matters,” wouldn’t there be a question as to why he doesn’t show urgency in aiding that what is most at risk?”
Another analogy I like to use would be that of a couple of burning houses in a rural block. If you call the fire department do they focus on the burning houses? Or do they spray ALL of the houses on the block? Yes, all houses matter. But when only a couple of them are on fire and the tenants are crying in the street that the “burning houses matter”, shouting back at them that “all houses matter” is not only incredibly hurtful, it is incredibly stupid as well. Likewise, while the slogan “All Lives Matter” is not etymologically or literally racist, it absolutely is contextually racist.