by Zara Zrudlo
The term “Black Lives Matter” is used to raise awareness that Black folks are being killed by police officers and being mistreated by the legal system. It can even just be a way to say that racism exists and has very tangible effects.
A lot of people think that the term “Black Lives matter” is exclusive, that it says that White lives don’t matter. However, nothing in that sentence implies that White lives don’t matter. Saying ‘All Lives Matter!’ or ‘White lives matter too!’ may seem reasonable, but White people aren’t being brutally murdered by police officers in the frequency that Black people are. It draws attention away from the people who are being mistreated and killed. The statement ‘All Lives Matter!’ basically says “it doesn’t matter that Black folks are being murdered.”
Across North America, countless Black people have been killed by police for the colour of their skin. The worst part is that most of the police officers won’t even be charged with murder, though some definitely have been. It’s as though Black people aren’t even human beings, so it doesn’t matter if they are killed.
Sometimes the police will use the excuse that they felt threatened, even if the person was just walking to their car. There have even been instances where people who were at home and were shot through a window, or where police barged through the front door to search for illegal drugs that the person didn’t have, and they were shot.
Dante Wright, age 20, was shot in 2021 for not obeying the traffic rules. The officer says that she used her gun thinking it was her taser.
Andre Hill was shot because he walked out of his garage talking on his cellphone. He was shot, then handcuffed. He died five minutes later.
One of the reasons that so many Black people are killed is the existence of stereotypes. A lot of movies and books portray Black folks as drug dealers and criminals. Because of this, people who aren’t aware of the untrue stereotypes have biases that they are not aware they have towards people of colour and Indigenous peoples. However, some people are just plain racist because they grew up in a racist family, or something similar.
Because police officers are given guns, they have the resources to be racist on a bigger, life threatening, scale. If police were given information and training about biases they might have, they could be taught to move past their biases and stereotypes.
Something that is not commonly talked about when the BLM movement is mentioned is that not all police are racist. There are some police officers that get a bad reputation because of their colleagues’ racist behavior when they are kind and not racist at all.
Something that is just as important as the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM movement) but isn’t given as much attention, is the Latinx, Middle Eastern and Indigenous Peoples who are unfairly murdered or incarcerated. It happens to Latinx, Black and Indigenous Peoples just as much as Black folks, sometimes even more frequently depending on the ethnic group.
I didn’t mention this as much in my article simply because they don’t fall under the BLM banner, but please don’t think that this isn’t because I don’t care about these communities as much, or because it’s any less common or horrible.
Similar to this issue is the missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people. The police often refuse to investigate disappearances, and murders which are sometimes even caused by the police.
Continuing to learn and be aware of the stereotypes and biases that you or the people around you have is one of the best ways to combat racism along with going to peaceful protests.
- A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee
- Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
- Punching the Air by Ibi Zoobi and Yusef Salaam, narrated by Ethan Herisse
- Breaking (Netflix)
- Know Their Names, Black People Killed in the US (Website)