“I used to think #BlackLivesMatter received too much hype. I remember thinking to myself, Why are we making such a big deal about this hashtag? It’s like saying the sky is blue. The three words ‘Black Lives Matter’ seemed so unnecessary. Obviously, everyone knows that. Hell, we’ve got a Black president, I’d think. I laugh at that line of thought now, and I invite you to laugh too.
It’s not like I didn’t experience racism growing up. It’s not like I didn’t see the ways that systematic racism shaped the experiences of those I love. It’s not like I didn’t hurt when hearing what had happened to Trayvon. I guess I had hoped that these moments—the moments when this country’s truest colors showed—were exceptions. I suppose I had hoped that this would be the case, but I soon began to realize that these weren’t anomalies at all.
Black Lives Matter is about moving our world forward by recognizing the need to value those we often regard as disposable. A lot of people assume that because the movement explicitly acknowledges the importance of Black peoples’ lives, it ultimately devalues the lives of people of other races. That couldn’t be further from the truth! It’s about equity, about leveling the playing field. We’ve long agreed, as a society, that white peoples’ lives are important and that they should be protected. Black Lives Matter demands that same sentiment for Black peoples’ lives and ultimately those of other nondominant groups. Simple, right? Yet, we—Black people—continue to be met with hatred, to be the victims of blatant injustice, to bear the brunt of society’s dirty secrets, and to be forced to face the fact that this society has been structured to make us feel less than.
When learning about Black liberation movements, I often felt that my experience wasn’t reflected because I didn’t see or hear about the Black Queer folx in the movement (Oh, but honey they were there!). Strong forces, like Bayard Rustin, had been told to take a back seat under the assumption that their queerness would compromise the movement. The Black Lives Matter movement, on the other hand, explicitly recognizes the intersectional experiences of Black folx by lifting up Black Queer voices, as well as the voices of Black folx with disabilities, Black folx with records, Black folx who speak different languages and who are undocumented.
Black Lives Matter is so much more than a meaningless hashtag to me now. The Black Lives Matter movement gives me the confidence to show up as my whole self. I don’t have to demand justice for one part of my identity while leaving another at home. Black Lives Matter gives me hope when it’s easy to have none.”