Do #blacklivesmatter? Watch This YouTube Video.

Why Black Lives Matter: Because All Lives Do

By Avens O’Brien

Given recent news headlines, riots and police brutality, an understandable hashtag has arisen: #blacklivesmatter, but some people don’t like singling out one race, don’t all lives matter?

In my second video in my new YouTube series, I explore the concept behind #blacklivesmatter.


Let’s talk current events: Ferguson, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, most recently, Baltimore. We’ve seen a lot of riots this past year, and with that an emergence of a sign, a slogan and a hashtag: #blacklivesmatter.

Anyone who is looking at this holistically knows, it’s not just black people vs. cops. Agents of the state are becoming more and more drunk on their power, and anyone can become their targets. But the news lately seems to be emphasizing the fact that unarmed black men are being shot by cops.

I’m not here to discuss the details of those scenarios. I’m here to discuss the aftermath.

Families and communities holding signs up: #blacklivesmatter.

Libertarians of course, know that state violence isn’t just against blacks – that everyone can be targets of the state. However, some libertarians have this slogan they like to respond to “Black Lives Matter” which is “No, ALL lives matter.”

And this is why we fail at messaging.

Because yes, all lives matter. You know this, I know this, and the families of Freddie Gray and Eric Garner know this. Everybody knows that all lives matter.

Now, I’m going to take a moment to talk about black people. And trust me when I say I don’t want to do this — not because I don’t care, but because I don’t presume to speak for a race of people I’m not part of. Last I checked, I’m pretty white. Heck, I don’t have that many black friends. So what the hell can this white girl originally from NH living in LA tell anyone about the black experience?

I can only speculate, and I do so under the limitations of my perspective. But my perspective observes that things have been kinda rough: through generations of shitty treatment, shitty law and shitty experiences, legal racism, institutional racism, and social racism, black people tend to feel like, when people say “all lives matter”, they don’t really feel like they’re being included in that. And why should they? Our Declaration of Independence says “all men were created equal”, but it might as well have had an asterisk beside it with a note from Jefferson saying “except black people because we still own them right now.” Black people in this country have constantly found themselves to be the exception to the concept of equal rights.

So when you encounter a mother in distress, holding a sign that says “Black lives matter”, this is not the time to say “No, ALL LIVES MATTER.” Frankly, this does not need to be an argument. This should not be a fight.  You are not on opposite sides. You are not against black lives. Don’t let that narrative define you. Do not say “no”.

You say, “YES, black lives matter, they absolutely matter, because all lives matter.”

Look I get it, you want to make your point about individual rights, about the idea that no other race should be held over another. That’s fine. But that means including those who’ve felt excluded, not continuing to exclude them. That’s the entire concept of all lives matter. Right? Black lives matter. White lives matter. Everybody’s lives matter.

This is a time of exceptional police brutality, and we have the opportunity to document it, share it and be exposed to the experiences of others. As more and more people distrust the state, it is time to bring them into our movement. We should be including them, inviting them. This means validating their experiences. This means saying “Yes, you’re being oppressed. And your oppressor? That’s the state.  That’s the enemy.”

We have a common enemy and it’s not the person asking “can you see me?” Yes, black lives matter. Yes, all lives matter. The people who can’t see that are the cops. Direct your indignation there.

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