Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter?


By Amelia May

Donald Trump running as president, John Boehner’s resignation as House Speaker, frantic mothers throwing their children from 7 story windows, the continuation of the Black Lives Matter movement; what do all of these subjects have in common? They’re the most heated and controversial debates of the United States, and have caused outrageous conflicts across the nation

What is the Black Lives Matter movement? “It is an important movement, which spreads awareness of the mistreatment and inequality occurring towards black people in particular,” says Sofia McLemore (10th). This movement was established due to all the discriminatory killings and beatings inflicted by police officers.

“The Justice Department statistics, based on the Police-Public Contact Survey, show that ‘relatively more black drivers (12.8%) than white (9.8%) and Hispanic (10.4%) drivers were pulled over in a traffic stop during their most recent contact with police.’ Or, to frame it another way: A black driver is about 31 percent more likely to be pulled over than a white driver…” [Washington Post: Christopher Ingraham- Sept. 9, 2014]

This very much applies to the controversy this past summer of the Sandra Bland case. Ms. Bland was pulled over by a white police officer for not using a turn signal. The woman copped an attitude with the officer, and found herself forcefully and unnecessarily arrested. Many Americans began to understand the magnitude of these outrageous happenings; so to speak, they awoke and smelled the wilted roses.

The Black Lives Matter movement also recognizes the young black males targeted by law enforcement. Rayshon Walker of the 10th grade remembers a time that he was approached by two different police officers: “My friends and I were simply just hanging out on my friend’s boat. We noticed a white man stalking us from his window. Later on, two police officers rolled up and explained to us that they were called because of complaints of obnoxious behavior. They also thought we were messing around on someone else’s boat so we had to tell them that it was actually my friend’s. They left without another word, but, we were lucky,” he says.

Throughout Clintonville, lawns have “Black Lives Matter” posters displayed. One of these houses is Arielle Swinehart’s, a student at Whetstone. “I think that the Black Lives Matter movement is really important because obviously, all lives do matter, but this particular movement is focusing on lives that haven’t mattered enough, and [have been] treated as if they are disposable,” she says.

Arielle’s stepfather, Mr. John Grinstead, further explains their reasoning for support of the movement. “Black Lives Matter addresses one of the oldest and most repulsively hateful legacies in US history, so people can either support some sort of peaceful resolution of this injustice or they can take the  ultimately white supremacist position that the status quo should either persist or that even greater hatred and injustice should be heaped on already too long suffering people,” he says.

On the flipside, many people have come to their own conclusion that “All Lives Matter”.  “I believe everyone has a place on this world regardless of race, religion, social status, economic status. Everyone matters, all forms of life matter,” explains Mrs. Kathy Arnold, Whetstone English teacher. Her Humanities partner and Social Studies teacher, Mrs. Krista Buckley, backs her up with, “I have black students, black friends and friends who are police officers. Every individual is equal and alike. Nothing like this should separate us.”

“With recent events, people think that no one cares about black lives but I think they do. We’re turning something quite small into something big,” says Stephanie Jackson of the junior class. “I feel that we do not need a hashtag for every lifestyle because at the end of the day, everyone, every life matters.”

Due to these different social views, the controversy continues to build. Debates are becoming heated with outbursts of opposing opinions. It is not uncommon to find the Black Lives Matter supporters and the All Lives Matter believers become immensely defensive of their own beliefs.

For example, Savannah Snyder (10th Grade), understands that “police brutality leads to blatant racism”, but believes that “All Lives Matter should be the new hashtag.” However, Quinn Holloway (10th Grade) believes that “the different hashtags are taking away and diminishing the idea of Black Lives Matter.”

Mr. Chris Lisi, Whetstone Mathematics teacher, says: “… I have no animosity towards Black Lives Matter and I hope they have no animosity towards me like I’m minimizing their concerns.” Mr. John Grinstead asserts, “‘All Lives Matter’ is simply a racist backlash to the Black Lives Matter movement, and is not an organization or movement in the traditional senses of the terms.”

Black lives, white lives, human lives end each day due to idle reasons. Approximately, 550 unarmed people have been beaten or shot to death by law enforcement. Although more individual Caucasians have been murdered, other ethnicities (African Americans, Latinos, etc.) collectively dominate in (higher) murder rates. The question remains, why? It is believed that these collective mass killings pertain to discrimination.

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