...#AllLivesMatter is not an alternative to #BlackLivesMatter.
The title is a little out there, yes I know. And I do not actually mean that all lives do not matter. They do—every life matters. No life matters more than the other. But, more importantly, no life matters less than the other.
Yet in this context, when someone counteracts the #BlackLivesMatter movement by claiming “No, all lives matter," then this title holds truth.
The #BlackLivesMatter movement began in 2013, after George Zimmerman, the murderer of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, was not indicted. The movement emerged to allow the black community to speak up about their constant de-humanization in American society and government. The organization's website clearly states their intention: "#BlackLivesMatter is a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates our society."
If you have a problem with this, then you are the problem.
Those who refute this movement often naively claim, "Black lives matter, as do white ones. All lives matter." I know it sounds commonsensical, and I'm sure those who claim this think they are on the right side of morality. But there is an ignorance behind how de-humanizing they sound.
So what exactly is the issue with saying "All Lives Matter"?
#AllLivesMatter is a way to disguise racism. This counterargument is denying all the struggles and brutalities against the black community. It erases an actual crisis under the guise of being fair. And by continuing to use “All Lives Matter” to drown out the cry of “Black Lives Matter,” the real problems the movement is trying to address are being ignored. Erasure is not progressive. “All Lives Matter” is useless.
It's like showing up at a breast cancer fundraiser screaming "All Diseases Matter."
American society knows all lives matter. It knows white lives matter. It knows police officer lives matter. But the justice system seems to leave black lives powerless under the eyes of the law, and that is where the problem resides. The only lives we have to work at humanizing in death are black lives.
"But what about Hispanic/Latino lives? Muslim lives? They're oppressed too!"
The phrase "Black Lives Matter" is used to acknowledge the racist experiences rooted in black history--the centuries of slavery, lynching, segregation, civil rights movements, mass incarceration, and police brutality. This type of oppression applies solely and uniquely to African-American lives. Other minorities will not face this oppression to such a degree as black lives.
To be clear, the empowerment of black people is not a supremacy of black people. So to the people who are anti-#BlackLivesMatter: if it's racial supremacy that bothers you, then you should take your hostility against the Ku Klux Klan. You know, an openly anti-black, white supremacist group that has existed for a century and a half and is responsible for the lynching of 4,000 black men and women. Use your energy and 140 characters on Twitter to speak out about them, not a group that wants equality and justice.