5 Important Things Everyone Should Know About Black Lives Matter

8 July 2016, 15:31 | Updated: 8 May 2017, 17:09

Black Lives Matter Protester
Nicky Idika

By Nicky Idika

And, yes, #AllLivesMatter is offensive AF

There's no way that you've been on the internet for the last few years without having heard the polarizing phrase "Black Lives Matter". 

Not only is "Black Lives Matter" a rallying cry for those weary of the never ending cycle of police brutality in America, it's also a grassroots activist organization doing real work for the many at risk of these indignities.


GETTY: Yana Paskova/Stringer

The Black Lives Matter movement started as a hashtag after the 2012 shooting death of Florida teenager, Trayvon Martin. Following the acquittal of Martin's killer in 2013, the phrase "Black Lives Matter" began appearing online, eventually becoming the recognizable movement that it is today. Community organizers Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi have been credited for turning the hashtag into a vehicle for social change. 

For the last three years, #BlackLivesMatter has been a response to the spate of black deaths in America but is often (purposefully) mischaracterized and misinterpreted. 


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For that reason, here's a quick user guide on the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Q: What does Black Lives Matter mean? 
A: Black lives matter means exactly what is says. That the lives of black men and women across America and the world are not disposable. That taking the lives of black people shouldn't be so easy and so common; and that it shouldn't be impossible to indict police officers after these killings. 

Q: But isn't it racist to say "Black Lives Matter"? 
A: Saying the phrase "Black Lives Matter" is not racist. It carries no hidden agenda. Saying "black lives matter" doesn't mean that other lives don't. 

Q: What about All Lives? Why do people get upset when someone says #AllLivesMatter? 

Q: If I'm not black can I still say that black lives matter?
A: You can do more than just say it. You can tweet it, text it, or hire a sky writer to notify your entire city that black lives matter. Allyship is a very important part of erasing the ideologies that contribute to institutional racism. 

Q: But what about black on black murder? Isn't that a...thing?