The subject of Black Lives Matter (BLM) came up during a recent conversation I had with an African American friend. My friend and I agreed that it was rather unsettling when people said “ALL Lives Matter” in response to “Black Lives Matter.”
We acknowledged that ALL lives mattered. However, we felt that people that needed to say “All lives matter” (ALM) did not comprehend/accept the fact that the BLM movement came about in response to the heightened (ongoing?) mistreatment of black people in the USA by the police and justice system. We wondered if the ALM people felt that black folks were not important enough to warrant the focus of BLM.
“On Real Time with Bill Maher,” Bill Maher expressed support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ phrase, arguing that ‘All Lives Matter’ “implies that all lives are equally at risk, and they’re not”…”President Barack Obama… said, ‘I think that the reason that the organizers used the phrase Black Lives Matter was not because they were suggesting that no one else’s lives matter … rather what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that is happening in the African American community that’s not happening in other communities…” Black Lives Matter.
When my friend and I talked about the stop-and-frisk activity in Evanston, I told her that when I mentioned the stop-and-frisk activity of blacks in Evanston to a Caucasian woman, the woman quickly pointed out that some Caucasian youths had also been detained. I can only counter this woman’s response with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reports, which point out the disproportionately high percentage of blacks and Latinos that are detained/stopped-and-frisked as compared to Caucasians. Percentages matter. According to the ACLU, “There is a national pattern of police using excessive, and sometimes fatal, force against people of color, often during routine encounters.” (ACLU: Stop and Frisk)
In 2013 the Better Government Association reported that Evanston was “believed to be the first local municipality to publicly embark on a controversial police tactic called ‘stop-and-frisk’—an approach that allows officers to legally detain and search someone suspected of committing a crime.” Hmm.
In an effort to defuse the notion that only the police are harming blacks and Latinos, the alarmingly high percentage of violence perpetrated on ethnic groups by members of those groups is frequently pointed out. Certainly, the violence in Chicago bears this out. Nevertheless, because of the history and perpetuity of racism in the USA, the focus of “Black Lives Matter” matters.