Recently, a male friend of mine decided to wear a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt for a full day around our campus. It was interesting the hear about the looks he received and the feedback he got from his fellow students and professors. We attend a predominately white institution with over 16,000 students. Black students account for about only 3-4% of the whole student population, so you can see how a black male student wearing this shirt may cause a bit of a reaction. Many people are not really ready to accept that the Black Lives Matter movement is a movement of great importance because it is bringing light to heinous re-occurring acts against Blacks.
Throughout the day while wearing the shirt, he received dirty looks as well as looks of confusion. Many students couldn’t wrap their minds around why he would ever dare to wear a shirt like that in public. Our school has had several issues in the past when dealing with race, so many of these actions were not hard for either of us to imagine. Of course, you had the individuals touting “All Lives Matter.” One of his classmates, an Asian girl, asked him, “Well, don’t you think all lives matter?” He was not surprised by this question so he simply responded with, “people don’t understand that saying black lives matter doesn’t mean all lives don’t matter.” But he was confused because he felt as an Asian, she is a minority as well so he expected that she would have been more supportive of the movement. People must come to realize that Black Lives Matter and “All Lives Matter” are not mutually exclusive terms. One can say Black Lives Matter and still believe that all lives matter as well. In fact, if you believe all lives matter, then you should also be fully on board with the Black lives matter campaign. Even though he did encounter a lot of ignorance throughout the day there were a few glimmers of hope from comments people made. One of his professors, a white upper middle-aged man, said to him as he was leaving class, “I’m very happy you’re wearing that shirt because the people who say all lives matter are missing the point.” And this professor was completely right.
All in all, my friend felt that this was a good experience and an interesting day. He stated that the interactions he had, exemplified the problem we as a society are facing. Furthermore, He stands by the Black Lives Matter movement and states that this “movement is to highlight social inequality and racism that continues to plague our nation after nearly 150 years of ‘freedom’.” He is right. The problem with society now is that everyone is opposing one another instead of being open and really supporting each other. Many people use the term “All Lives Matter” to take away from the importance of the real issue at hand, violence and unfair treatment against minorities. While other people use the phrase simply to undermine and mock the plight that Blacks face everyday. I don’t know what the future holds for the Black Lives Matter campaign, but in the last 2 years, this movement has been able to really bring to light to many issues that used to get swept under a rug.