Column: ‘Black lives matter,’ not ‘only black lives matter’

Gretchen Neal, Staff Reporter

The recently-ended summer saw its share of tragedy, not the least of which was the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, fueling activists to protest, once again, the unnecessary killing of black citizens by police officers.

This is not necessarily news to anyone– the protests have been consistent since the death of Michael Brown, when the “blacklivesmatter” hashtag began trending on Twitter. Like most movements, the Black Lives Matter community has its opposition – some are extremists, but others are simply misled white citizens decrying the motto of the movement by fabricating their own hashtag: “alllivesmatter.”

The phrase in itself is not offensive– what is offensive is the fact that this phrase did not exist until there was something that countered it. It is the same logic that birthed the arguments of the men’s rights groups and straight pride month advocates– the concern for these people did not exist, and are not typically brought up, until a movement that is actually working to benefit an oppressed group is produced.

These groups are blatantly prying awareness and attention away from an actual social movement to point out that they deserve rights too, which they have already attained. It is selfish, hateful and hypocritical. These people are not advocating for the rights of all, or they would be paying attention to the people who are still in need of theirs.

Of course, those All Lives Matter supporters who are not malevolent are ignorant. The people who use ALM rhetoric have an incredible misconception of their opposition: BLM is not trying to say that black lives and only black lives matter; they are trying to say that black lives matter, but are not treated as though they do by the judicial, political and societal systems in America. It is not telling the public to forget any other life matters. It is saying that these people are human, and it would be nice to be treated as such.

The implied “too” should not have to be present for others to understand that. It is like saying “I like milkshakes,” and having someone reply “all ice cream treats are tasty.”

It is similar to passing a person with a gun to their head saying “I want to live,” and inserting oneself and saying “I would also like to live.” It is unnecessary.

In that situation, the second person is not in immediate danger. It is a simple act of petty jealousy, taking one human rights movement and trying to morph it into some “egalitarian” blob that benefits no one – black voices are silenced, as they too often are, and the most obnoxious people are heard.

Those who are in need of a revolution do not get one, and the ones who do not need much of anything get… a lot of superfluous attention?

BLM was born out of need for justice. ALM was born out of spite by white people who cannot stand not being in the spotlight for two seconds.


Gretchen Neal is a senior English major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]