Yes, All Lives Matter, But...

Yes, All Lives Matter, But...

Some people have to fight harder for their lives to matter than others.
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Scrolling through Facebook (as I do every morning), I noticed another #AllLivesMatter post, and it infuriated me to see, as it always does. This mantra of "All Lives Matter" stems from the "Black Lives Matter" movement. Black Lives Matter spawned after George Zimmerman, a captain of the neighborhood watch, was not convicted of Trayvon Martin's death. Martin was a 17-year-old African-American teenager who Zimmerman claimed looked "suspicious." Zimmerman shot Martin, claiming self-defense. All of this occurred in February of 2012. In 2013, Zimmerman was cleared of all charges, the jury finding him "not guilty."

From this, Black Lives Matter began. Protesting went into the streets, crowds all holding signs saying "Black Lives Matter."

The campaign continued to gain steam with other cases: Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, just to name a few. The outrage was incredible, but warranted. In 2015, police killed at least 102 unarmed black people. That's more than any other race, and five times as many as unarmed white people. Worse, of those 102 cases, only nine resulted in officers being charged with a crime. With statistics like that, movements like Black Lives Matter make a lot of sense.

But a counter movement is out there, "All Lives Matter," that criticizes the Black Lives Matter campaign for only focusing on black lives.

They're not wrong, either -- all lives do matter. That's obvious. Which is what makes the Black Lives Matter campaign so powerful -- all lives matter, but somehow discrimination against black lives, police violence against black lives, racism against specifically black lives, is so much higher than other races.

We don't need a campaign for All Lives Matter, because it's a given. Unfortunately, it seems that we do need a campaign for Black Lives Matter, because apparently America has forgotten. It baffles me that the color of your skin can determine the path of your life (or if not the complete path, at least hinder you from opportunities others will have who don't have the same color skin as you).

I'll be real with you guys -- I'm not an expert on this subject. I'm a middle-class white girl from Upstate New York; a 21-year-old college student. I don't understand what it's like to be a black person in America. I don't know what it's like to walk into a store and have a manager follow me, scared I'll shop lift, because of how I look. I don't know what it's like to walk through a college campus, or sit in a class, that is predominantly a race not my own. I don't know what it's like to be in class and be asked to speak on behalf of my entire race. I don't know what it's like to be genuinely afraid of police officers because of the treatment I've seen in the media of people of my own race. I don't have to be afraid to hold a toy gun, scared a police officer might shoot me because of it.

I don't know what it's like to not have inherent privilege, because I was born with white skin. I won't pretend to understand it. But I can care about it. People who advocate for All Lives Matter are missing the point, because everyone knows, for example, that white lives matter -- have you seen our country lately? We are still a country where "white is right" (a phrase that pains me to even write, but is still sadly the norm of America). It's clear to us that life matters, and therefore all lives matter, no matter your skin color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. But when you look at the news, it's not unarmed Asian Americans disproportionately killed by police, or Native Americans being incarcerated at a higher percentage than any other race -- it's African Americans. It is African Americans who are fighting desperately for a fair chance in life.

So please, stop toting around your signs saying "All Lives Matter." We get it. We know. We've always known. Life matters - if life didn't matter, we'd be in quite a jam, since we're all living, breathing human beings. The Black Lives Matter campaign isn't there to specifically disregard all other life, but to focus in on a group of people in this country who are being discriminated against. I don't know how anyone can see that as a bad thing.

Cover Image Credit: panampost.com

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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A Message To High School Seniors

It's going to be alright.

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Dear High School Seniors,

You've made it! In just a few months you will be getting ready to put on your cap and gown and walk across the stage to get your diploma. Soon, you're gonna say goodbye to the life you've known for the past four years and start a new life somewhere else. At this point, your senioritis has most likely already kicked in and you're probably dreading waking up at 7 a.m. more and more each day. The second semester of senior year is annoying but cherish every moment of it.

Everything is about to change. As you walk down the hallways look around. Take a second to look at your classmates and ask them how their day is going. Learn about them and the stories they have to share with the world. Everybody has some advice to give and you never know what you're going to learn. Before you know it, you won't be seeing their faces anymore. The only form of connection you'll have with most of them is through social media which will eventually fade as well. You don't want your only memories of those you graduated with to be just seeing their face in the hall.

Go to the places you love the most. Whether it's your favorite hometown restaurant or your favorite place to hang out with your friends, go. Go until you're sick of it. Take a second to acknowledge the sights and smells around you. You're going to miss them. In a few months, you won't be able to jump in your car and drive five minutes to get there. The places that make your home your home are about to be a long car ride or flight away.

Spend time with your family. This is one thing I wish I realized earlier more than anything. Your parents are most likely going to soon become visibly upset or scared at the fact that you're leaving them. After all, you are their little girl or boy. This time is just as stressful for them as it is for you. But don't make fun of them, hang out with them. You're going to miss the once dreaded trips to the grocery store with your mom and the annoying car rides with your little brother. You really don't realize how important your family is to you until they're not a few footsteps away anymore. Unfortunately, no amount of facetime calls will ever compare to being with them in person. Don't leave home wishing you had spent more time with them.

Be involved in the things happening at your school. Go to prom. Buy a yearbook and get as many people as you can to sign it. Go to the football, basketball, baseball and soccer games you have left. These activities may seem boring at times but they are what you're going to miss. When you get to a big university it isn't going to be as easy to get involved.

Get excited about for the future. Even if you're not going to your dream school, it's going to be ok. The second semester of my senior year I spent upset over the fact I was going to stay at an in-state school. The school I'm at now was the last place I had thought about attending. I almost didn't even apply. However, I am so lucky that I did. I truly can not imagine there being a school that could have been a better choice for me. The people I have met and the opportunities I have been given would have never been put in front of me if I had attended another school. Try to keep an open mind. Everything really does happen for a reason. If you aren't going to the school you originally were hoping to, don't stress. You're going to end up at the place right for you, at least I know I did.

College is amazing but there will always be something special about your home. Make sure you make these last few months your best months. These next few months will be filled with a whole lot of lasts and followed by a whole lot of firsts. Good luck!

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