Black Lives Matter for Dummies


Lately, there has been a lot of talk from the “right” about Black Lives Matter (BLM) and how they are a violent, “black supremacist” and even a terrorist organization. There has also been a lot of comparison of Black Lives Matter to the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacy movements stating Black Lives Matter is simply the other side of this racist fueled coin. However, those spewing this rhetoric are missing (or purposefully hiding) some very substantial points, one of the main ones being, Black Lives Matter was started to help stop people from being systematically oppressed, while organizations like the KKK, Nazis and other white supremacist groups are trying to do just the opposite.

The inception of Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter started as the social media hashtag #Blacklivesmatter, which was created by two African American women by the names of Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi. The women started this hashtag after George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed 17-year-old African American teen Trayvon Martin, was acquitted of Martin's murder.

According to the Black Lives Matter website, after the hashtag took off, a number of cultural workers, artists, designers and techies offered to help expand #Blacklivesmatter beyond a simple social media hashtag. From there, the organization has continued to grow and gain momentum and morph into what it is today.

So, what is the goal of Black Lives Matter?

The goal of the organization is to start a dialogue about and to bring awareness to the way black lives are continuously devalued and mistreated at the hands of a white, hetero-patriarchy. Black Lives Matter strives to right the wrongs of oppression and discrimination, to end the militarization of our police officers and establish training methods that are not meant to incite violence or cause discrimination, and to give the lives of black people across the country a voice when injustice is thrust upon them.

“When we say Black Lives Matter, we are broadening the conversation around state violence to include all of the ways in which Black people are intentionally left powerless at the hands of the state. We are talking about the ways in which Black lives are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity.”

In other words, it’s the organization’s goal is to stop the systematic maltreatment of black people living in poverty and violence, the mistreatment of the black LGBTQ community and the LGBTQ community as a whole, to establish the rights of black women and girls, black immigrants and black people with disabilities, and to end the systematic persecution committed by law enforcement and the American judicial system against the black community.

BLM Principles:

On Diversity - "We are committed to acknowledging, respecting and celebrating difference(s) and commonalities."

On Globalism - "We see ourselves as part of the global Black family and we are aware of the different ways we are impacted or privileged as Black folk who exist in different parts of the world."

On Black Women - "We are committed to building a-Black-women affirming space free from sexism, misogyny, and male-centeredness."

On Collective Value - "We are guided by the fact all Black lives, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or dis beliefs, immigration status or location."

On Trans people - "We are committed to embracing and making space for trans brothers and sisters to participate and lead. We are committed to being self-reflexive and doing the work required to dismantle cis-gender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence."

On Black "Villages" - "We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, and especially “our” children to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable."

On Empathy - "We are committed to practicing empathy; we engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts."

On Black Families - "We are committed to making our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We are committed to dismantling the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” that require them to mother in private even as they participate in justice work."

On The Queer community - "We are committed to fostering a queer-affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of hetero-normative thinking or, rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual unless s/he or they disclose otherwise."

On Loving engagement - "We are committed to embodying and practicing justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another."

On Inter-generational - "We are committed to fostering an inter-generational and communal network free from ageism. We believe that all people, regardless of age, shows up with capacity to lead and learn."

On Restorative Justice - "We are committed to collectively, lovingly and courageously working vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension all people. As we forge our path, we intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting."

**"We are un-apologetically Black in our positioning. In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a necessary prerequisite for wanting the same for others."**

Meaning this organization is not only in existence to make black lives better, part of their goal to help the community as a whole.


Some argue Black Lives Matter is a violent organization that are looking to murder police, start riots. loot, vandalize, and establish a black hierarchy in the United States. However, nothing could be further from the truth. What Black Lives Matter does strive for is equality for all those who are oppressed. And while some members of the group tend not to mince words when it comes to expressing anger at police violence and other injustices, that’s about as engaged in violence as the group gets, unless of course the need to defend themselves arises, which they try to handle accordingly.

One of Black Lives Matter's main goals is to establish a peaceful, public dialogue and bring about awareness of injustices. It's not ever to incite violence as that would only defeat their purpose. As a matter of fact, part of what Black Lives Matter does is to help prevent violence from happening. Violence like the kind that took place in Los Angeles in 1992 after four police officers were acquitted of beating a black taxi driver by the name of Rodney King. The mere presence of Black Lives Matter activists at a protest is usually a sign of assuredness that that kind of violence will not take place, so to accuse them of violence or terroristic acts is not only careless, untrue and manipulative, it’s frankly abhorrent.

Of course, there are always going to be a few bad apples that say they are or think they are associated with the organization. Bad apples such as Micah Xavier, a military vet (who incidentally was dishonorably discharged for sexual mis-conduct and who had a slew of other issues), who ambushed and killed five police officers in Dallas last July. Because this man took place in some Black Lives Matter protests, some people were very quick to jump to the conclusion that Black Lives Matter were directly involved. However, that is simply not the case. After this incident, not only was Xavier quickly denounced by the Black Lives Matter organization, because committing physical violence is the antithetical of what the organization is all about, but they also issued a statement calling for "an end to violence, not an escalation if it."

However, and in contrast, when white supremacist/Nazi James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car into a crowd of anti-protesters in Charlottesville VA, immediately after a Ku Klux Klan rally, killing 32 year old Heather Heyer and injuring several others, the response of white supremacists was not to blame or denounce Fields but to put the blame on the city of Charlottesville and the counter-protesters that were run down.

Some would say this is incredibly ironic considering it's white supremacists that are the first people to call Black Lives Matter violent and terroristic and I would agree wholeheartedly, it is incredibly ironic. However, it's not actually irony at all, it's something called "gas-lighting" (see reference link below) and it's a tactic that's been used by vindictive narcissists and sociopaths for about as long as they've existed... but I digress.

The point here is that the Black Lives Matter movement is not the violent, oppositional, black-supremacist organization some people try to make it out to be. It's an organization that wants to raise awareness and stop the systematic oppression of not only black people, but the poor, disabled, LGBTQ community, women and immigrants.

So, the next time you hear someone say "all lives matter" in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, gently remind them, "No they don't actually but the goal of Black Lives Matter is to see to it that one day, they all eventually they will."