Is Black Lives Matter a Necessary Movement?
Artwork by Nicole Baster
By Maria Duarte.
May 7th, 2022 at 9:00 P.M. EST.
The necessity of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States invites numerous opinions. White privilege, systemic racism, police brutality … These are all issues that, unfortunately, still affect the lives of thousands of individuals living in America and continue to undermine the hard work of the BLM organization. Black Lives Matter is a movement that fights for equal rights for the Black community; however, most people opposing the organization tend to view it as a movement similar to that of the white supremacists, in which one race believes itself superior to others. Therefore, they sabotage the fight for equal rights for everyone. This highlights one of the greatest challenges that prevent us from moving to a society where everyone is treated equally, independently of the color of their skin. The most concerning issue that revolves around this controversy is the lack of education regarding equal rights and what it means for other groups of people, most importantly, minorities. Undoubtedly, this movement has created a voice for the Black community and started a positive change.
In the words of Martin Luther King Jr. himself: “None of us are free until all of us are free.” This short yet powerful quote demonstrates the need for freedom that has always characterized those who come to the United States; it proves the relevance of the Black Lives Matter movement with a statement that every American believes to be true. Even the Republican party agrees that, according to the Constitution, everyone is created equal. BLM is a movement that has continuously caused an impact on our society, a positive one; it is an organization that advocates for equality and has proven, time after time, to be a productive movement, not only for the Black American community but for our entire society. Pushing for equal rights for minorities reinforces the belief that we all deserve to be treated fairly, despite the color of our skin, our sexuality, our religion, and much more. At the end of the day, this movement might be putting a single brick that will, eventually, help us to build bridges by including other minorities. We have seen this more recently with the Stop AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Hate organization; the majority of people who supported BLM are now fighting for the safety of the Asian community in the United States. This demonstrates that a single movement, a little spark, can fuel the fight for rights and other societal issues.
When there is such a controversial issue as the Black Lives Matter movement, it is complicated to find an aspect that is commonly accepted by all parties, especially because there seems to be no middle ground in this matter. However, I can assure you that what most people could agree on is the fact that the Black community requires the attention and help of other groups; not only because the African American population is classified as a minority in the United States, but also considering the statistic that Black Americans are more likely to be victims of police brutality when compared to the White population. Even so, generalizing this idea that every individual in the United States believes the Black community “needs” aid is a little bit of hyperbole, given that there are still various groups around that not only oppose the BLM movement—All Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter—, but to the Black community itself, such as white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan, better known as KKK, which both the Obama and Trump administrations failed to designate as a terrorist organization.
“Not all lives matter for Black Lives Matter'' is a phrase that, as a Black Lives Matter supporter, you must have heard several times. It comes as no surprise when, in his controversial opinion article, the conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro uses those words to describe the BLM movement. He states the following: “All that matters for too many in our elite institutions is the narrative that America's systems are the greatest obstacle to Black Americans. And not all lives lost are equally valuable in promoting that perverse narrative” (Shapiro). As demonstrated by this quote, most people opposing the movement assure that the real purpose of Black Lives Matter is to undermine other races in the United States. Nevertheless, just as the website of the movement itself states, the ultimate goal of BLM is to bring awareness to the struggles that Black Americans face every day as a minority, not to devalue the worth of other peoples’ lives.
“Police have shot more white people.” This is a common argument discussed whenever the statistics about how many people the police have shot are shown. This argument is entirely used by people who oppose the movement and decide to deny the fact that police brutality is an issue of greater concern when it comes to the Black community. In reality, the majority of victims of police brutality are indeed White; however, when you compare the numbers of both populations, the matter becomes much more alarming. White individuals make up over 59% of the population, while the Black community makes up about 13% of the total population in the U.S.; however, individuals of the African American community are still 3.5 times more likely to be shot by a police officer than white people.
Black Lives Matter seeks to solve various problems, but above all, its focus is on ending police brutality against the African American community. Although there are some supporters with extremist solutions, such as ending the police or weakening its power on the community, most supporters of the organization agree that the appropriate strategy is to push for police reform. Some of the requests are to equip police officers with body cameras, demand implicit bias coaching, and promote community policing. In addition, there are other numerous steps we can take to gradually end racism—with time and education. We can all start by acknowledging racism exists in diverse forms, checking ourselves for unconscious bias, listening to the Black community, and validating people of color’s experiences and feelings. These are just some everyday steps we can follow to help not only Black Lives Matter but the entire Black community. So, when presented with the question, is Black Lives Matter a necessary movement? The answer is: Yes. Black Lives Matter has proved to be a vehicle for change, positively affecting our community and inspiring the creation of other movements, creating a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. Black Lives Matter is a necessary movement.