Hearing the phrase "Black Lives Matter" can unleash different feelings in everyone.
Confusion: Why isolate one community of people when all communities of people matter? When does the Black community deserve more attention when "All Lives Matter"?
Anger: Why do I have support them? They didn't follow the law; they deserve what they got.
Fear: The protests are so violent, so why should I get involved in something that could harm me?
Guilt: I'm white, and the black community doesn't want me involved.
It is hard to understand in the year 2016 that race is still a problem, but the truth is that it is. Having a black president doesn't mean the hundreds of years of racial injustice are suddenly solved. I'm going to be blunt: race is still a problem and black people still aren't treated the same as white people. Now, the first step to solving a problem is to understand it. So why does the "Black Lives Matter" movement matter?
To better understand why it matters, let's think of all of humanity as a person, with arms, legs, a body, etc. Let's have the legs represent the black community. Right now the legs are broken and the body cannot walk, therefore it is not whole. The "Black Lives Matter" movement is saying, "Right now, let's focus on the legs and help them so they can heal and the body can be whole again." The movement is not saying that the legs are better than any other part of the body; all it is trying to do is help the legs, which at the moment need the most help. It would be ineffective to help the arms or the body because they are already perfectly healthy.
So when people say "All Lives Matter" in response to "Black Lives Matter" they are trying to compare a broken body part with a healthy one, which isn't fair at all. To become whole and healthy, humanity must first focus its efforts on those who need it most, which right now is the black community.
Now the first step is done. It wasn't so bad, but there are so many more steps to go.
Just understanding why it matters isn't going to solve the problem. The next step is talking about it. It doesn't seem like you're helping when all you are doing is talking but talking about it helps. Don't be afraid to talk about this sensitive subject. It is against social norms to talk about something that makes people uncomfortable, but people need to understand the movement to get why it matters.
So do your part and keep talking about it. Don't let it just be a hashtag on social media. Talk about it in person, with your friends, family, coworkers, anyone who will listen. Be patient and explain it to people who don't understand it. Some people just hear the headlines of news stories and don't know the full story. There are a lot of misconceptions about the movement going around so take the time to explain the basics.
Even if you don't agree with everything the movement stands for, you can agree with the fact that human life is important and right now the lives that are being taken and the lives that need our help are black lives.