All Lives or Black Lives?

Posted on 03 September 2015 by admin

Violence in a spin cycle

Austin SchumannBy: Austin Schumann
Staff Multimedia Specialist

Ferguson, Baltimore and New York; places that have been dominating the headlines in recent months with stories about death, racial tension and police brutality. These headlines are one-in-the-same, and they have read similarly, “unarmed black man killed by police.” Since the death of Michael Brown in August of last year, there have been increasing accounts of police violence and brutality against African- Americans across the country. To reflect that increase, there have also been hundreds of protests throughout the nation – both violent and nonviolent – ranging from peaceful rallies outside of police stations to gatherings that shut down entire highways. These protests have sparked many sayings like, “hands up, don’t shoot,” or, “I can’t breathe.” The most common saying, however, is arguably, “black lives matter.” This has been a rallying call against police brutality and racial profiling across the country, catching more and more steam as time goes on.

As a counter to this, many have been chanting, “all lives matter.” The reception of this new slogan is split; some think that it is saying that people should treat everyone with respect regardless of the color of their skin, while others say that this defeats the point. The question that many people ask is: do some lives matter more or less than others? The problem with this question is that this misses the point more than anything else. Violence affects everyone across all walks of life, regardless of skin color.

A community can protest the unlawful shooting of an unarmed man and try to promote peace, but the goal of these gatherings sometimes contradict themselves. Some of these people will group together and protest peacefully in the style of Ghandi and MLK, while others – protesting the same point – will loot and burn shops and convenience stores, which does nothing to improve the validity of their argument. There will certainly be some cops standing in front of the protesters to keep the peace; some will see this as preventing the protesters from doing anything wrong, and others will believe this keeps the protesters safe from everyone else. There will also be some police officers at those stores that are being looted and destroyed, and they will try to stop the criminals with varying tactics. Some will arrest with minimal casualties and some will shoot to kill. Some of these criminals will fight the police and others might even kill some of them.

The next day after the smoke has cleared everyone will come up with their own story; some will say their peaceful protest went well and others will say they were treated unfairly. The news will report on the event and put their own spin on it to prove their points, but none of this will change the fact that over the course of that night, people will have died. The protesters will point to the dead criminals and use them to show police brutality, while those on the other side will point to the dead cops and say that they were killed by violent and unruly protestors. Neither side will see the entire picture though. At the end of the day, there were casualities; black people and white people; criminals and police officers; guilty and innocent people; and because people do not see it this way, nothing will have been fixed.

This is the intention of the “all lives matter” movement as a whole – an end to the violence. Saying “all lives matter” does not have to mean that they are taking the struggle that any other race is going through for granted, but that they are trying to take race out of the picture. True, some people supporting this do so out of racism, but that can also be said for many carrying the signs for “black lives matter.” In the end, one side cannot be right while the other side is wrong because that will mean that one side has lost. The only outcome that can be described as good is the one where everyone wins; when people are not treated any differently because of the color of their skin – whether it is black or white, regardless of if they wear a police uniform or not – the only good outcome is an end to violence.


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