• Sofia Eugeniou

Black Lives Matter: Dismissing the problem because it's easier that way

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has been going strong for over 6 years now.


Originating from within the African-American community, BLM exists as an international humans rights movement to campaign against violence and systemic racism towards black people.


Sparking the social movement into life was George Zimmerman's acquittal for shooting to death Trayvon Martin in the summer of 2013. The movement was co-founded by three black community organisers: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. The movement was achieved with the use of the simple hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.


One of the key objectives of the movement is to promote a democracy that is more representative of black communities in America.


Alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, the BLM movement has once-again risen to the very top of public interest. The recent murder of George Floyd has been the catalyst for ongoing protests and debate on race and racism, including the issue of systemic police brutality.

Image credit: Evening Standard

Like any social movement, especially those affiliated with race and systemic racism, the BLM movement has been met with its fair share of dismissal and lack of support.


A common challenge faced by the BLM movement is the "All Lives Matter" movement in response to BLM.


What many people fail to understand, is saying that black lives matter does not mean that other lives do not. "All Lives Matter" is problematic as its sweet and all-loving sentiment, in fact, takes the focus away from those who need it. It is the black community in peril, and attention from that should not be redirected.


Ultimately, how can all lives matter if black lives don't matter?


To me, the ALM movement is one part of a messy problem that sets the foundations of the society we live in. I cannot help but question whether individuals truly believe that all lives matter, or whether the realisation that there is a problem makes them feel rather uncomfortable and thus would rather brush past the problem.


It is often easier to deny and dismiss the statement that Black Lives Matter, instead of identifying, challenging and dealing with key problems that continue to place black and ethnic minority communities at societal disadvantages in comparison to their white counterparts.


All too often, we expect change and progress to occur without truly focusing on what brought us here in the first place.


Yes, we need protests and yes we need a voice that drowns out ones that are racist. However, if we do not take time to analyse the history of our racial divisions - in both the U.S. and the UK - how are we to achieve true progression towards racial inequality?


By neglecting the transatlantic slave trade that founded America and the horrors of colonialism that once made Britain the most powerful empire in the world, we are effectively ignoring the factors that led to the destruction and devastation of whole peoples, including their cultures, languages, traditions and so on.


Undeniably, these historic processes have resulted in the deep racial tensions that dominate and divide American and British society.


We need to learn about our past in order to move forward. Those with power to make a change, such as our governments, must do more to ensure this history is taught and taught thoroughly in our schools from an early age. Education of this kind must exist to normalise honest and progressive discussion and debate on race and systemic racism. By doing this, true societal change can be achieved.


Race must no longer be a thing that divides us but unites us. We should live in a world that celebrates cultural and ethnic difference. We can no longer dismiss the problem in the hopes it will go away - it won't. Black Lives Matter exists for a reason, and it is time we start to understand why.

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