Black lives matter


By The All-Nite Images obtained through Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

Zoe McDonnel

With over 40 million tweets, the #BlackLivesMatter activist movement has emerged as a major political force. The organization formed in 2012 after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s accused killer George Zimmerman was acquitted. Martin was black and unarmed, and subsequently, many people see Zimmerman’s actions as being motivated by racial profiling.

The principal issue in the case and the many that followed is the systemic racism exhibited by the criminal justice system. Black Lives Matter strives to affirm black people’s contributions to society, humanity and their resilience in the face of deadly oppression, according to the group’s website.

A survey by Pew Research Center states that roughly four-in-10 Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement, yet only 8 percent of all adults believe that it will effectively help black people achieve equality. The organization fights the notion that it is just a hashtag and aims to take the hashtag off social media and into the streets, as a cry for “ALL Black lives striving for liberation.”

Black Lives Matter became controversial when people started saying, “All Lives Matter” in response. And it’s true, all lives do matter. But the problem is the clear evidence that black lives matter less than white lives in the eyes of the criminal justice system. According to the U.N. Human Rights Committee, one in three black males will go to prison in their lifetime.

We need to say Black Lives Matter because that is not the current living truth. There is no question that white lives and police lives matter. Saying “Black Lives Matter”  reminds people that race exists, and racism is still prevalent.

In a letter he wrote after the fatal shooting of John Crawford, a 22-year-old who was shot by police in August 2014 for playing with a toy gun, Jesse Williams, an American actor and activist said, “The existence of your neighbor’s pain is not dependent upon your belief in it.”

The police act like black lives don’t matter when black Americans are 2 1/2  times more likely than white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers, as shown in a new analysis by the Washington Post. The U.S. Sentencing Commission found that in recent years, prison sentences for black men were nearly 20 percent longer than white men for similar crimes. The judicial system acts like black lives don’t matter when blacks are given more severe sentences than whites who commit the same crimes.

All lives matter, but you wouldn’t drive through a cancer fundraiser yelling, “There are other diseases!”

We need to focus on the black lives right now because all lives should matter in every aspect of life, and it is very apparent that our judicial system is not aware of that.