Black Lives Matter Leaders Say ‘All Lives Matter’ Label Misses The Point

An activist holds a "Black Lives Matter" signs outside the Minneapolis Police Fourth Precinct building following the officer-involved shooting of Jamar Clark on November 15, 2015. Photo: Tony Webster

After the death of George Floyd, the movement has gained even more attention. But some have tried to use a counterargument with the “All Lives Matter” label.

“We do believe that all lives matter, but we don’t live in a world where all lives matter,” said Alicia Garza, in a 2016 interview with KATU.

Garza and Opal Tometi are two of the tree co-founders of the national Black Lives Matter movement. They spoke at Portland State University in February of 2016 and explained why the “All Lives Matter” label is problematic.

“That kind of response really puts on display the very issues we’re trying to address,” said Garza. “There’s part of our country that believes that people are suffering because of their own lack of individual initiative. Then there are a whole bunch of people saying, ‘Yeah, it’s not about the fact that I’m lazy. It’s about the fact that my community’s infrastructure is crumbling. It’s about the fact I can’t drive down the street without being harassed or targeted by law enforcement.'”

Local Black Lives Matter activist Teressa Raiford says those words still ring true today.

“It’s not to say that other lives don’t matter,” said Raiford. “But saying that the centering of trauma and violence and oppressive, discriminatory policies on us, that it creates a circumstance where we are considered second-class citizens in the world and people do believe that our lives don’t matter.”

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