“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” —Desmond Tutu
Another day, another black life lost at the hands of police. And I listen to the news and I follow along on Twitter and I watch the horrifying videos—and beyond that? I throw my hands up in disgust and horror and shame, and don’t know what to say. Enough.
SPEAK UP, SPEAK UP, SPEAK UP. Scream it from your window: BLACK LIVES MATTER. Don’t look away. Don’t pretend it doesn’t affect you. Don’t pretend it’s someone else’s problem. Tell everyone you know, and people you don’t: BLACK LIVES MATTER.
All these things we celebrate daily: Art, design, music, homes, books, food—what do they matter if we’re existing in a society where a black man has to fear for his life every time he leaves his home? Where black children are robbed of their fathers? Where social injustice and institutionalized racism run so deep that any kind of escape from this horrifying cycle seems impossible?
So we can talk about and enjoy those other things—art, design, music, homes, books, food—but those things are for nothing if we choose not to OPEN OUR MOUTHS and SPEAK UP when it matters the most. DEMAND ACTION. Do not remain calm.
BLACK. LIVES. MATTER.
“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” –Elie Wiesel
Thank you. I’ve been noticing how silent many bloggers have remained, especially those who have really wide reaches. This is all just too important to remain silent.
Gosh yes! I was just thinking that none of the bloggers I enjoy have actually made a statement on any of the major social and unjust incidents going on at the moment. Bravo to you for speaking your mind.
Nice to see this here, thank you.
Thanks for this post, Anna
THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
Thanks for posting this Anna
Tears. Thank you.
Wow! Thank you!
As a black woman I think you for acknowledging our pain……
So important. Thank you..
Thank you thank you thank you for writing this and for sharing this. I’ve found myself feeling so annoyed looking at my social media feeds in the past few days and noticing how few of the people that I follow that have an immense following have failed to even acknowledge what has happened, what continues to happen. I know that many of them might say that it isn’t their place as a lifestyle blog or renovation blog or whatever to comment on social issues, but I think it’s so important to foreground what is happening. Everybody needs to be speaking up about this. Thank you for doing so.
Thank you Anna. Well said.
So you’re saying that “black lives matter” more than any other race? There is a lot of ignorance surrounding this movement and the racist paradigms have only resulted in greater fear with no proposed solution. The real issue is corruption of government officials, in particular injustice against citizens. The phrase itself misrepresents the issue, inciting racial hatred and division when what we need more than ever is unity among American citizens.
So you’re saying that “black lives matter” more than any other race?
No. If that’s what I was saying, that’s what I would have said. This is a gross—and, I believe, deliberate—misinterpretation of the words “black lives matter.”
Over the course of your life, Mel, you may have noticed that when people campaign/protest/speak out for a cause, they tend to name that cause. For some reason (I think I have some ideas as to why, but I’ll leave that out of it for now), when there are campaigns to rally around things like rain forests and breast cancer, nobody gets the message wrong. If you heard someone say “RAIN FORESTS MATTER” in an effort to call attention to the fact that rain forest are being destroyed at the rate of 80,000 acres a day, something tells me you probably wouldn’t counter with, “So you’re saying that rain forest matter more than any other forest?” You wouldn’t say that because it would be ridiculous—and you know it.
(If you’re still having a hard time understanding the phrase, try adding a “too” to the end. “BLACK LIVES MATTER TOO!” Does that help?)
Here’s a good explanation of why the rallying cry is “BLACK LIVES MATTER” and not “ALL LIVES MATTER”:
If you don’t feel like reading, here’s a great video that will only take up a minute and a half of your time:
RECAP: The phrase “black lives matter” isn’t a solution, it’s a rallying cry. That cry is desperately needed right now, since it’s clear that a huge percentage of the population of this country is blind to the fact that the value of black life is dismissed, disregarded, and degraded on a daily basis.
I don’t know if you read my post, but I linked to this site near the end:
Campaign Zero is a GREAT place for you to start if you’re wondering what to do if you believe that black lives do, in fact, matter.
Since you seem very confused about what the BLM movement stands for, you might want to also spend some time reading about the guiding principles:
(There’s a lot of valuable information on that site, so definitely click around and learn!)
The words “BLACK LIVES MATTER” don’t incite racial hatred, Mel. A population born of centuries of systemic and institutionalized inequity in a country built on the back of slavery DOES. Talking about a problem doesn’t cause the problem. Your effort to silence those using this rallying cry only serves as more evidence of how important it is for me to SPEAK LOUDER.
Yes Anna!! Speak it.
As a mixed race black American, I can understand the paradigm and dissatisfaction of the black community more than you know. I could go into more detail, but it accomplishes nothing here.
I commend your passion share your desire for social justice. Though it appears your understanding of the issue, and those we face as a nation, is limited. The focus of Campaign Zero’s proposals are not soley related to the treatment of black Americans, but police brutality and reforming its treatment of all citizens. The ‘black lives matter’ phrase become justification for people who already have hate within them to engage in racially-motivated hate crimes (if you’ve followed the events over the past 3 years). The focus on race alone is causing civil tensions that are a diversion from the real issues, and just supports interests who seek to divide and conquer. American citizens need to be more educated and unite if any positive change can occur.
With all due respect, Mel, the rallying cry of “black lives matter” is not leading to an increase in hate crimes. Hate crimes in the US are down in recent years, in fact (against all groups except Muslims, it’s worth noting). It IS, however, leading to an increased awareness of the crimes on the part of the general public, thanks in large part to social media, ease of filming attacks in real time, and even the mainstream media’s greater interest in reporting on these stories—not to mention victims of hate crimes are far more likely to report incidents when they believe their voices will be heard. (And yes, I’m aware Campaign Zero’s sole focus is not on black Americans—as I stated in my previous reply, “black lives matter” is a rallying cry, not a solution.)
One final point: As a white American, I assure you the BLM movement has led to more TRUE racial unity and TRUE allyship than anything I’ve seen on my lifetime. White liberals love to pretend to care about “all lives,” but when it comes down to it, we as a group really needed this reminder of how serious the situation is. Disregard for black life didn’t end in the ’60s or when we got a black president. I refuse to be complacent.
Mel no one is saying black lives matter more than in other race, by the way there is only one race the human race all humans originated in Africa. Understand the phrase “black lives matter” it’s actual meaning is in the phrase itself it means that black lives matter period end of discussion nothing else needs to be said. It means that black lives matter in this country we too are human beings deserving of respect where our humanity is honored and our lives are not taken from us in an instant because we are black. It means stop killing us stop persecuting us stop dehumanizing us as a people. Think about it this way would the phrase matter if blacks were treated as equals in our society with full rights granted to us as American citizens. Would we even need the phrase “black lives matter” if we weren’t gunned down and killed indiscremently by the police on a daily and weekly basis would the phrase be needed. The point is we are saying like everyone else our lives matter like everyone else we matter. So understand saying “black lives matter” doesn’t take away anyone else’s humanity we are just stating like everyone else’s are lives matter too. To get a better understanding of the role race place in this country go back and read accounts about slavery go back even and watch both versions of Roots. One must begin to see the root of the problem dates back to blacks being brought over to this country as slaves and then being classified as 3/5 ‘s human. Our language, customs, traditions and history was brutally taken from us we have had to fight and protest since in this country for equal rights under the law. And still after all of our contributions to this country we call great our lives are still not valued and appreciated or protected by this country of ours. So in conclusion before you attempt to place all people in this nation into one box and call us all equal understand that in this country so called race matters. Black Americans pointing out that we too matter does not incite racial hatred or division cause if it didn’t already exist then again the phrase “black lives matter” wouldn’t matter and the phrase would not exist. So again “Black Lives Matter”.
Thank you for this reply, Victoria Rose. I take heed of your words, as I hope others will as well.
Why is that when someone is proud of their race (as you should be of yours) that all of sudden becomes an attack on another persons race or that somehow means no other races mater. Black lives matter is a movement and if u knew anything about the black lives matter movement you would know, understand and appreciate that it is a movement not just of the black experience but of the human experience!
Thanks for having the courage to share your thoughts about this topic.
thank you so much for posting this. too few design blogs care about having social justice conversations, even though oppression pervades every part of society, including our aesthetics.
Just chiming in to support the message that Black Lives Matter (and your reply to Mel, which is fantastic).
Yes. Thank you.
This may be helpful to some, who have trouble thinking outside of our white privilege. I recently learned of this podcast, and have been binging on old episodes, this one broke my heart.
Really happy to see a post like this here. Thank you!
Thank you Anna. Love.
Thank you for this.
All lives matter. Black lives, Police lives, French lives, Probably a good time to understand that every life matters? I think Anna, that it’s brave to choose to speak out, not keep your opinion silent. But will you open your mind to other views?
What is it about the words “black lives matter” that makes you think other lives don’t matter? If that’s what you’re hearing, you have a fundamental misunderstanding of BLM. Please read my replies to Mel above. Please read the links below.
And no, I will not keep my mind open to the view that black lives don’t matter enough to demand that they be treated equally by the justice system; that we as a society wake up and pay attention to the centuries of racism that have led us to this point.
That’s the point of view you present when you counter black lives matter with “police lives matter,” “all lives matter,” etc. Do you really think the value of black life is so insignificant and worthless, Mary? No, I won’t open my mind to that kind of thinking. No.
While you’re at it, read this response from the UUA—the author is much more eloquent than I am:
Thank you for these links, Anna. I appreciate reading concise arguments that reinforce why this matters to me. I’m not the most eloquent person and getting my point across can be tedious. Reading your links (especially the 1st one), really hit the nail on the head. I hope people who are unclear about the BLM movement can remove themselves from the equation and see the injustice for what it is.
I live in Europe and therefore have very little knowledge of the frame, facts and circumstances going on that have led to this and similar posts. Under this distant view I can tell that the BLM message is so simple and so direct that anyone “misunderstamding” it is obviously just, as you said, trying to silence the ones that speak up.
I relish seeing how intellectually superior prove to be the answers from the BLM side, by the way.
Police Brutality Matters. And Protecting The Lives of Police Matters, Too. Thank you.
The two are not mutually exclusive, TK. The list of things that matter is endless, literally. Right now, we’re taking about black lives. Thank you.
Yes! I have only just come across your blog but I would like to join the voices commending you for this post. I attended a BLM protest last night where a girl who couldn’t have been older than 5 years of age told a crowd of hundreds that she didn’t want to die because the color of her brown skin. Although the dialogue must move beyond conversations that are purely anecdotal, indulging in images of Pinterest-worthy furniture arrangements feels more than trivial with the image of this child so fresh in my mind. Your post has probably caused come discomfort for readers looking for inspiration while drinking their morning coffee, but that is exactly why it is so important. White silence IS violence. Black lives matter.
Everyone’s lives matter. Black, white, asian, whatever. We all matter.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Please read my replies to others above, Marla. Your dismissiveness of the importance of recognizing the vast injustices that exist against blacks people in America is offensive.
Marla, your intentions may be positive, but please recognize that it is deeply concerning that you would use a Martin Luther King quote to try and prove your point. Despite the work that Dr. King and so many others accomplished during the Civil Rights movement, it is appalling that there are those who believe that we live in a post-racial society. When the systematic injustices that continue to disproportionately affect black Americans can be seen so painfully by the number of black bodies killed by police, our society is clearly sending the message that black lives DON’T matter. The vast majority of BLM supporters practice and promote nonviolence, although the tragic incidents in past weeks will cause many people resistant to positive change argue otherwise. If you truly believe that “everyone’s lives matter,” it is all the more important that you support this movement,.. and I encourage you to read Anna’s responses above.
Thanks, Helen. There’s a great line by Max Von Sydow’s character in Hannah and Her Sisters: “If Jesus came back and saw what’s going on in his name, he’d never stop throwing up.” I think we can probably say the same thing about MLK.
Thank you for writing this, and for your eloquent, measured responses to the ‘all lives matter’ comments from people. Please keep fighting for social justice!
Thank you Anna, whenever this stuff comes up, I hold my breath – hoping that people will land on the side of love and wisdom – you do not disappoint!
I enjoy your blog, but please, no more posts like this.
No problem, Sarah! I’ll be sending all of my future blog posts to you at your fake email address for your pre-approval.
Posting something like this can be tricky in a setting like this because it’s such a divisive issue. As a black reader of yours, I really appreciate you writing this. The thing with movements like this is that it can’t be successful with black voices alone– we need allies of all colours to come together. I feel bad for the All Lives Matter camp. They must feel threatened in some way to want to disempower others from standing up for their right to LIVE.
If one can say that Blue Lives Matter, I know that he or she just means that they are sad to see police die in tragic, unjust ways. They don’t mean to say that police are more important than anyone else, but that we need to appreciate the dangers they face. So that means that they knew what Black Lives Matter meant the whole time!
All lives DO matter, including black ones, which is what we’re talking about right now. So thank you for speaking up xx
Love you for posting this. As a black female reader of yours, it makes me even happier to be a fan of your space (well, your many spaces. haha). The BLM message is so simple, thanks for defending it, even amongst some commenters here.