Yes, I know all lives matter, but that’s not the point

By ALEX BOGER Columnist

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has been pushed to the forefront of the news by protesting the unlawful killings of Blacks by police and vigilante groups.

Although this is where the movement began, it now spans a lot further than that. The movement has refined its statement saying it advocates for “dignity, justice and respect” of the Black community.

I’ve noticed a lot of people misconstruing the issue: on my Facebook feed, my uncle or the people I get into a conversation with at the bar. More than once I have heard the phrase “but… all lives matter” when this subject comes up.

All this statement does is marginalize the struggle of Blacks in American culture.

The point of BLM isn’t to say Black lives matter more than anyone else’s. It is not meant to say that Blacks deserve to be treated better than anyone else. It just means that the Black community wants to be treated equally to everyone else. 

Violent riots like the ones in Charlotte, North Carolina, do not equate to BLM. The movement was also represented in peaceful protests during the events after the fatal police shooting of Keith Scott, an African American male. 

Seeing this violence as equivalent to BLM is not just wrong but only makes the problem worse. Creating a rift between people of color (PoC) and the government is not the way to solve our problems. 

According to the United States Census Bureau, Black Americans make up 13.3 percent of the total population. But, as stated by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Black Americans make up 37 percent of the prison population in the United States. This year, about 25 percent of victims of police shootings have been Black, according to an article in the Washington Post.

We have an arrest disparity in this country, and the causes for this disparity are complex and multifaceted. Despite this, it boils down to the fact that PoC are treated differently than Whites in this country. 

The BLM Movement stands for racial equity. The movement seeks equality rights not only for cisgendered Black men, (those who’s gender identifies with the sex they were assigned with at birth), but for queer Blacks, Black women and disabled Black people. 

While this movement may seem to have sprung out of nowhere in the last few years, it’s part of a larger battle that has been fought since the 1960s when Martin Luther King, Jr. marched in Washington for the rights of Black people. 

We need to push for minority representation in our government. We need women, PoC and queer people to be able to take a more hands-on role in our government without being torn down for being who they are.

We need to be able to have a presidential election where a candidate’s race, sexuality, religion or gender identity isn’t a campaign issue, and where we focus on the platforms, not what the person standing on them looks like.

As a White man, I understand I have privileges and may be blind to certain aspects of this conversation. That is why this movement is important, as well as talking to our PoC peers about their experiences. Yes, all lives matter, but let’s focus on the Black ones for a while.

Alex Boger is an agriculture & biosystems engineering graduate student at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected]