By: Johnson Dieujuste
Black Lives Matter is an activist movement that started in 2013 when George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin. The movement gained momentum after many other black lives were lost with little done to punish the ones responsible. Since its conception, the group has been under fire from certain individuals who view them as hostile.
One commonly used argument is that black-on-black violence is extremely prevalent in America, so the anger should be focused internally. According to politifact.com, from 1980 through 2008, 93 percent of black people were killed by another black person. While this number is high and should be concentrated on, it does not detract from the message of Black Lives Matter.
According to Huffington Post, there are more African Americans incarcerated in the U.S. than the prison populations In India, Argentina, Canada, Lebanon, Japan, Germany, Finland, Israel and England combined. With that being said, a legitimate argument could be made that for every black person killed by another black person, the majority of those guilty will be caught and sent behind bars. This leads us back to the first point: that in certain situations, as far as black-on-black crime is concerned, a slogan like “Black Lives Matter” would not be necessary. Due to the fact that the proper judicial punishment was carried out, there was atonement, to a certain degree, for the death of the individual. In this situation, a black life did matter.
Crime is a product of proximity. In other words, one who is hostile enough will harm one who is close to them. Statistics from the US Department of Justice reveal that 84 percent of white people killed every year are killed by other white people, which means that racially interior violence is not a strictly black problem. Instead, it is a moral issue that needs to be mended by everyone collectively.
There have been reports of violence perpetrated by people who chant “Black Lives Matter!” On Aug. 19, marchers in support of the slogan were recorded chanting “pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon,” allegedly referring to policemen at a Minnesota State Fair. Actions such as this have swayed some to believe that the group is a violent and hostile congregation of people who promote the murder of authorities and the destruction of property. While there are some who may or may not use the slogan to commit heinous crimes, they are not a reflection of the whole. A few black people who misrepresent a movement should not sully its name, the same way that a terrorist is not a representation of an entire foreign community.
Black Lives Matter has been responsible for “pushing the agenda of police accountability to politicians running for local and national office,” as told by the Huffington Post, and the practices of the majority of those who protest have been nothing but peaceful.