July 13, 2016
Black Lives Matter: What It Means Versus Common Misconceptions

Black lives matter. Those three words have simultaneously become a battleground over racism in the United States and an attempt to draw attention to a disturbing trend.

Police brutality is unfortunately nothing new as the L.A. riots over the beating of Rodney King proved. Some police officers have been known to be over-zealous when it comes to enforcing the law, breaking their own code of serving and protecting the public. A certain percentage have even resorted to using lethal force due to what activists and concerned citizens are calling bias and bigotry.

Sadly, those personal beliefs appear rooted deeply in racism, a problem this nation has had since it was founded. White men have been in charge for hundreds of years, even following Abraham Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and the black community is still struggling to gain all of the same rights as everyone else.

The group was originally founded by Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi when George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, but the fact that Zimmerman is also of Hispanic heritage didn't make the argument strong enough. When Michael Brown was gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri, he was unarmed, and the officer who shot him happened to be white. This was when Black Lives Matter rose up and demanded justice for Brown.

Since then, the media has leaped on the chance to report all similar cases. Technically, only a small percentage of crimes result in white police killing unarmed black men. However, Black Lives Matter wants to keep the spotlight on the fact that racism still exists after 400 years.There has been a counter-culture, mostly known to be comprised of White Republicans, who started the social media hashtag claiming that all lives matter. The black community sees this as a collection of racists missing the point and undermining their effort to stop the killing by white officers.

Even Donald Trump has discounted the notion, ironically calling those three words "racist" and "very divisive." It's ironic because many on both sides of the political fence feel the same way about him.

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani also weighed in on the recent movement.

"I believe I saved a lot more black lives than Black Lives Matter. I don't see what Black Lives Matter is doing for blacks other than isolating them. All it cares about is the police shooting of blacks. It doesn't care about the 90 percent of blacks that are killed by other blacks."
True or not, both seem to be missing the point being targeted by activists. It's about racism and the need to make it public that it still exists and leads to abuse by the very men and women whose job it is to protect us.

The group isn't led by any one person, but by a collective agreement among black activists across the United States. Unfortunately, what happened in Dallas was the actions of someone taking it too far. One person is not a group, and a few individuals have come to light recently targeting white police to mirror the violence.

BLM ally Dream Defenders co-director Umi Selah even condemned what happened in Dallas, "The conception that all we're mad about is police and policing is a strong misconception."

Black Lives Matter was created to bring awareness to racism in the United States and bring equality so the black community can live in peace, with the same respect and authority as everybody else.

[Image via Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock.com]