It’s easy for us to pick our favorite sports team, our favorite color, but when it comes to picking sides on the #BlackLivesMatter vs. #AllLivesMatter debate, things can get tricky.
The #BlackLivesMatter online social justice movement began due to the social injustices, specifically police brutality, endured by the Black community. This movement, intended to create peace among police officers and members of the Black community, has caused some controversy. As a counter argument, #AllLivesMatter emerged.
The BLM movement gained momentum after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman in the summer of 2013 and was later acquitted of second-degree murder. While the origin of BLM is somewhat debated, with many people claiming credit, the widely acknowledged three major initiators were community organizers Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. As people discussed the tension between police officers and the Black community on social media, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter was born.
There has been much debate over the naming of the BLM movement. While some believe the name is too exclusive and offensive, others feel that the exclusivity of the name is important and focuses on their concerns.
“The name is as inclusive as it get. Those who intend to impede the organization are racist and intend to prevent the long-awaited ascendency of Black men and women alike,” says Va’Shawn Hutcherson, 17, from Boston Community Leadership Academy.
Asi-Yahola Somburu, writer and member of the Student National Medical Association - a minority medical student organization - describes BLM as “a battle for authentic representation. Perception will always be a part of the fight for justice and equality.” Somburu also said, “BLM is simply asking for the same rights and equality afforded to everyone else.”
16-year-old Sary Godinez, from the John D. O’Bryant High School, says that “Black Lives Matter is inclusive because [Black people] are already not included in many places in society and this recognizes that they are people too, they have feelings too, and they are just like you and me.”
Quyen Nguyen, 16, also from the O'Bryant High School, is a supporter of BLM as a movement but also understands others when they say the name is too exclusive. He believes that people who say “All Lives Matter”, are not disagreeing with the goals of BLM, rather the language they are using to get their point across.
“Not everyone's points of view are the same because no one is in the others' shoes,” said Nguyen. He believes that most people who disagree with BLM do so because they feel that BLM is purposely excluding themselves in order to gain social justice. “All races should be mentioned, which I think makes the most sense,” said Nguyen. He also believes that those who don’t support the movement don’t have to endure the struggles these people face routinely. “And thus, they don’t understand the real struggles those people face,” he commented.