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Over the past few weeks, the news and social media have begun going back to “normal,” and honestly, I’m pretty disappointed. There has been a very important issue going on for years, and only a few months ago did it receive national attention and hold the eyes of the public. Now, the eyes have strayed, but the issue continues. The issue is Black Lives Matter, and it still matters.

I have noticed that there have been some misunderstandings about Black Lives Matter. So, throughout this article, I will bring up common questions and comments I have seen and heard, and try to answer them to the best of my ability. 

 

“BUT ALL LIVES MATTER!”

Yes, all lives DO matter! But guess what? It is not ALL lives that are under a greater threat right now. Black Lives Matter is not saying that ONLY Black lives matter, they are not saying that all lives don’t matter, they are saying that Black lives are especially threatened right now and they need support to help fix those issues. Let’s try giving an example:

Your next door neighbor’s house is on fire, and you call for help. Firefighters 

arrive and spray water on the house, getting rid of the fire. Are you and the rest 

of your neighbors going to walk up to the firefighters and ask them to spray water 

on the rest of the houses in the neighborhood because all houses matter? No! 

You know that it was only that one neighbor’s house that was in danger at that 

moment, not yours, so you helped them by calling the firefighters, knowing that 

they would do the same for you if the roles were reversed. 

See, all lives do matter, but not all lives are in danger at this moment. So just like in the example, it really does not make sense to say “All Lives Matter” when somebody says “Black Lives Matter,” because right now, not all lives are in danger.

P.S. To those who say “Blue Lives Matter,” or “Police Lives Matter,” I have a different message for you: “Blue Lives” do not exist. This is because being a police officer is a profession, it is a CHOICE. People of color do NOT choose what color they are born. They do not choose to be discriminated against. They do not choose to endure centuries of oppression. Police officers choose their career, they know the risks, and it is their choice whether or not they choose to uphold the law and be a “good” police officer, or to act unlawfully on implicit biases and become a “bad” police officer. 

 

“NOT ALL COPS ARE BAD! THERE ARE MORE GOOD COPS THAN BAD COPS!”

That is true, not ALL cops are bad, but that does not necessarily mean that all cops are good either. People who say “ACAB,” are not really saying that every single police officer is bad, they are saying that cops should be accountable for their actions, and that the system should be fixed so that there are no more bad cops, or next to none. 

To respond to the second part of that statement, yes, there are more “good” cops than “bad” cops, but there are still enough “bad” cops to show that the current policing and justice system we have is flawed. Just think, if you’ve got a classroom of students that you just taught a lesson, and only half of them understand it while the other half stares at you all confused, your first plan of action would be to change how you taught the lesson, right? It is the same with the current system we have in place! While we have some very good cops, we also have enough “bad” cops in the system for us to start thinking: “Hmm, there’ve been a lot of issues with cops acting on implicit bias, and it’s been a real problem. Maybe we should change some stuff up in the system and see if that makes any improvements.” 

 

“BUT HE WAS ON DRUGS! HE RESISTED ARREST! HE HAD A CRIMINAL RECORD!”

Wanna know something interesting? Criminal record or not, resisting arrest or not, being on drugs or not - these are NEVER reasons for a police officer to kill someone! Police officers should not be the ultimate deciders on if someone lives or dies. I understand that they may have to think on their feet and they will do the first thing that pops into their heads, but pulling out a gun and shooting somebody who is unarmed, holding someone in a chokehold and suffocating them to death, placing a knee on someone’s neck as they yell “I can’t breathe!” until they take their final breath...these should not be first instincts! 

This is when we have to go back to the policing system as a whole. We have to think: “Wow, this sort of thing has happened a lot, so what should we do?” Well, for starters, maybe the way police officers are trained should be changed. Maybe all states should require longer training periods, since many states have training programs that only span a few weeks. Maybe all police officers should be trained in implicit bias, and have extensive training in de-escalation techniques, because obviously there have been a disproportionate amount of arrests towards people of color, and de-escalation techniques seem almost non-existent. Maybe police officers should be held accountable for their actions, as many only get a slap on the wrist and get thrown right back into the field. 

One last thing for this section: Why do you feel the need to go through the background information of a victim and justify their murder? Chances are, the police did not have that information prior to killing the person, so it did not influence or justify that murder. 

 

“BLACK LIVES MATTER IS FULL OF RIOTERS!”

Remember how you said “Not all cops are bad”? Well not all Black Lives Matter protesters are rioters. There have been almost 2,500 locations for Black Lives Matter protests and a majority of those protests, 93%, have remained peaceful. Yes, there have been some riots, there has been some destruction, but not as much as what has been shown on the news. Many of these riots occurred due to counter protests from opposing groups, and some from government intervention. 

These are not all the comments and questions I have seen, I have seen far more, but these few have been the most common. Hopefully I could help you better understand.

On a final note, get out and vote this November! Your one vote makes a big difference.

*Disclaimer: As a white woman, I will never be able to fully understand what a person of color has had to go through in their life, but I am trying my best to be an ally. If any information is incorrect, please reach out to me and let me know so I can educate myself further.

Annie is a senior at Michigan State University studying for a degree in Elementary Education with a focus in Social Studies. When she isn't studying, she enjoys geeking out about all things Harry Potter, snuggling with her dogs, and binge-watching "New Girl" with her friends. No matter what, you'll always see her with a smile that's wider than the Joker's.
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