The necessity of #BlackLivesMatter and the distraction of #AllLivesMatter

shutterstock_blacklives1One of the easiest ways to get me to roll my eyes in the most dramatic way possible is to sincerely say ‘all lives matter’ in response to hearing the phrase ‘black lives matter‘. The reason why? It’s partly because just as Common states in the song ‘Glory‘: “justice for all just ain’t specific enough”. And Julia Craven wrote to stop telling her that all lives matter, specifically saying that:

Race brings on individual issues for each minority group. Saying “all lives matter” causes erasure of the differing disparities each group faces. Saying “all lives matter” is nothing more than you centering and inserting yourself within a very emotional and personal situation without any empathy or respect. Saying “all lives matter” is unnecessary.

The entire point of the All Lives Matter seems to really only be in direct retaliation and deflection to Black Lives Matter. It really just seems like a way to shut up activists calling for justice, take away from the entire point of the BLM movement, and the fact that people of color (and particularly black people) are disproportionately dehumanized, profiled, attacked, and killed in the US.

One major point of the Black Lives Matter movement, at least to my limited understanding, is to highlight the fact that as a society, we tend to devalue black lives as a whole. Brianna Cox wrote about the dangers of the ‘All Lives Matter’ rhetoric and said that:

 …when people use #BlackLivesMatter, they’re saying “black lives matter too,” not “black lives matter more.” The hashtag is a declaration that signals the need for others to care about how our country treats black people, especially law enforcement.

Whereas #BlackLivesMatter is at the crux of what’s one of the largest social movements of our time, #AllLivesMatter is a hypocritical at the very least, and offensive at most. Even outside of the context of black lives, #AllLivesMatter also sweeps other issues of oppression under the rug—all for a façade of inclusion.

It’s important to remember that if you truly believe that all lives matter, you wouldn’t be offended over the black lives matter movement. And it’s important to understand the movement  and learn the things you shouldn’t be saying. And if you’re white like I am, it’s important to remember among other things that reverse racism doesn’t exist.

#MikeBrown – one year later

It’s been one year since Micheal Brown Jr. was shot and murdered by Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO. The last year has been emotional and full of protests calling for justice. Protests have happened all over the nation for the past year, with more and more people unfortunately and tragically becoming hashtags after their death at the hands of police.

There has been an incredibly moving memorial happening in Ferguson and other places in memory of Micheal Brown Jr today.

To all those marching today, to all those who can’t but still honor Mike Brown Jr., to all those fighting for justice, and especially to the family and friends of Mike, thank you for your presence. Thank you for your fight. I’m so sorry for the violence, for all the pain and suffering. Sending so much love and prayers to everyone today.

#SayHerName – Protesting Police Brutality Against Black Women

Protests surrounding police brutality, the extrajudicial killings of black people around the US, and violent white supremacy have made dramatic waves over the past several months. The #BlackLivesMatter movement has been a calling cry since the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 and has been a rallying cry for some protests. #HandsUpDontShoot and #ICantBreathe have also been other rallying cries, in reference to the deaths of Micheal Brown and Eric Garner respectively.


[Image of several black women demonstrating topless in San Francisco on May 21st.]

#SayHerName became a hashtag and protest call to bring attention to the violence faced by black women around the country. The poet Aja Monet wrote and preformed a poem under the same name and called out the names of the black women and girls who have been murdered by police.

There have also been numerous demonstrations around the country in response to a call to action from the Black Youth Project. Some articles about the demonstrations are below, including the fact that several incredible women went topless in protest and shut down the Financial District in San Francisco:

  • They Love Our Bodies but Not Us: Powerful Images from #SayHerName Demonstrations
  • Women Go Topless to Protest Killings of Unarmed Black Women by Police
  • Why These Women Protested Police Brutality Topless



[Image reading: black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to be targeted by police and incarcerated than white women.]

The African American Policy Forum has a long list of resources, statistics, and general information about the police brutality against black women if you are looking for more information.


I think that being able to support and amplify the voices and work done by the activists fighting against the white supremacy so built into the fabric of US society is incredibly important. (Especially supporting and amplifying black women. And not forgetting about the intersectionality of gender, class, race, sexuality, etc.) Supporting platforms like Black Girl Dangerous, #BlackLivesMatter, and Operation Help or Hush is always important. There is also a Black Girls Lead conference, an opportunity for black girls between the ages of 13-17 years old this upcoming summer and is an offshoot of BlackGirlsRock.



Protesting against Police Brutality

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of protests and community organizing against police brutality and racism (particularly anti blackness). There has been a lot of negative (pretty much all in the usually racist backlash) but there’s been a lot of good too. John Legend and his wife apparently worked with activist group Operation Help or Hush and quietly hired food trucks in NYC to provide a community meal for protesters. Legend also collaborated on an amazing song called Glory for the movie Selma (which should be coming out in the next month or two I think).

Brittany (@bdoulaoblongata on Twitter and Tumblr) wrote about testifying today on the police brutality she’s faced with others while protesting. She’s one of many that have been incredibly leaders both in organizing protests and online. (This was actually about getting a temporary restraining order against the police because of the action by the police towards protesters in St. Louis and Ferguson. And they won!.)

With all of the work that is being done, it’s important to keep in mind that all kinds of activism needs to center the marginalized communities being impacted. In this case, it’s incredibly important to center the work and voices of black/African Americans. There have been plenty of posts and articles justifiably calling out white people participating in these protests because as white people, we have to remember that this is not about us. Here are some of those articles:

  • Dear White People: Ferguson Protests are a Wake, Not a Pep Rally from The Well Examined Life
  • The Subtle Racism of “Post-Racial” Activism by Mattias Lehman
  • At Eric Garner Protests, Some White Activists are Being Called Out for Their Behavior by Katie Toth
  • Seeing Ferguson Clearly: 12 Double Standards that Expose White Supremacy by Sonali Kolhatkar

There have been articles and videos that have talked about the intersectionality of issues (including racism, classism, and the need for living wages) and responses/support for the black community.

  • Black poverty is a state violence too: Why struggles for criminal justice and living wage are uniting by Sarah Jaffe
  • An Indigenous View on #BlackLivesMatter by Leanne Simpson
  • Yet another person shreds the “case” against Mike Brown

There have also been articles showing photos and videos of the protests:

  • A roundup of #BlackPoetsSpeakOut Selections
  • 27 Stunning Photos of #BlackLivesMatter Protests from Around the Globe by Tom McKay
  • Rabbis Recite Kaddish, Jewish Mourning Prayer, for Eric Garner, Later Arrested in NYC Protest by Antonia Blumberg
  • Congressional staffers stage walk out to protest
  • Broadway Stars Gather in Times Square to Send a Message about Police Violence and Eric Garner

The Grand Jury Decision

Last Monday night, the grand jury decision to not indict Darren Wilson of the death of Mike Brown was announced. Since then, protests not only in Ferguson but around the US and world have been going on. Articles and responses to the decision, grand jury testimony and evidence, and US racism are continuously coming out and fundraisers are being held to support those being arrested because of the protests (including this one for black folks arrested in Oakland) (and another about how you can show up for Ferguson).

Several people have written about their own experiences:

  • Diamond Latchison wrote a post on Black Girl Dangerous last August titled: “I’m from Ferguson and I’m tired and fed up”.
  • W. Kamau Bell wrote about his experience of being a tall black man in the US right now
  • Brittany Cooper wrote: “I am utterly undone: My struggle with black rage and fear after Ferguson”

Others have also poked holes in the testimony and evidence from the grand jury:

  • Lisa Bloom, a legal analyst for NBC and a trial lawyer, brought up some questions after going through the released grand jury documents from the case
  • Legal scholar Patricia Williams also commented on what Darren Wilson’s testimony reveals about racism in the US
  • There was a shocking mistake in what was presented to the grand jury
  • Justice Scalia explains what was wrong with the Ferguson grand jury

The protests have also been covered:

  • The media hasn’t done a great job covering all parts of the protests
  • The New York Times editorial board wrote on the meaning of the Ferguson protests

There are really great people to follow on Twitter, including:

deray mckesson




Shaun King 

Mia McKenzie, Black Girl Dangerous 

I definitely recommend following the above and so many more to see what is happening on the ground in real time.