Think Twice Before Sharing #AllLivesMatter
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Politics and Activism

Think Twice Before Sharing #AllLivesMatter

Why the popular social media response to violence hinders rather than helps.

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Think Twice Before Sharing #AllLivesMatter
Get Far/DJ Que Eleven

#AllLivesMatter.

The first time I saw this social media response to the violence this week between the police force and individuals of color, I was angry. Instead of using the hashtag associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, people on Facebook and Instagram began to spread the #alllivesmatter tag. What a cold thing to say, I thought. All lives matter. Of course they do.

Is that really something that we need to remind ourselves? Of course every life matters. It is such a broad statement; the overgeneralization in the phrase sacrifices an essential meaning in the message itself. Of course color shouldn’t matter. Of course Justice should prevail. But that isn’t true in our society. Not at all.

Last Tuesday, Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old African American was shot by Baton Rouge police at a convenience store after a homeless man reported him for having a gun. Multiple videos have documented this incident, which has caught the attention of the national public. Sterling was known to be respected in his community. Although he was arrested in 2009 for carrying a gun and sentenced to five years in prison, CNN.com stated, “there is no evidence that officers who responded to the convenience store early Tuesday were aware of his criminal history.” This tragic incident turned out to be a fatal overreaction to gun possession. Later in the week, in Minnesota, Philando Castile was shot multiple times by a police officer when he was reaching for his license and registration. In response to this needless violence, a sniper killed five police officers Thursday night.

President Obama responded by attempting to recognize the dangers posed to police officers as well as taking into account the pattern of violence that racial groups in our nation have suffered. He stated, “What I can say is that all of us, as Americans, should be troubled by these shootings, because these are not isolated incidents. They’re symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.”

Black Lives Matter is a popular movement in social media that is shared by members of all racial groups that oppose discrimination by our law enforcement. This is a problem for our nation as a whole and the hashtag #blacklivesmatter is a way of spreading awareness of injustices as well as a way of honoring the victims of such needless violence.

What is #alllivesmatter? In the best light, it is a term used by well-meaning individuals who promote peaceful treatment of all people, albeit in a way that distracts the community from a legitimate flaw in our society. At its worst, it is a way to tell those who have been wronged that there is no justice or hope available for them. That they are not suffering.

In an official response, Anna Galland, Moveon.org's civic actions executive director, stated, “Saying that ‘all lives matter’ or ‘white lives matter’ immediately after saying ‘black lives matter’ minimizes and draws attention away from the specific, distinct ways in which black lives have been devalued in our society and in which black people have been subject to state and other violence.”

Picture a small child getting shoved down by their older, larger sibling onto the gravel in their driveway at home, where they should be safe. “Mama!” they yell. “I’m hurt!” The middle child, who has been watching while drinking lemonade on the porch, sighs. “I get hurt too, sometimes.” Even though she has never been hit by her older sister. The small child glares up at her older sister, thinking to herself, It’s just not fair! And right now I’m too hurt to think… Those who have been mistreated deserve immediate attention and reform. The social media #alllivesmatter response distracts us from that.

All lives matter.

You know, they really should.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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