Cleveland Charter High School

Opinion: Do ‘Black Lives Matter’ to Americans?

On Sept. 8th, Republican candidate Donald Trump blasted the “Black Lives Matter” group on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor”, stating that it’s “looking for trouble.”

Trump emphasized his point by recounting an experience where he interviewed several leaders from the “Black Lives Matter” movement. He claims that he “saw them with hate coming down the street” and that “it’s a disgrace that they’re getting away with it.”

It’s quite clear to Americans that Trump is no stranger to controversial statements, but what really concerns me is that he’s not the only person who demonstrates a lack of concern for the group.

The recent Republican GOP debate on Sept. 16 did not feature any questions related to the movement, despite the issues concerning the deaths of unarmed civilians at the hands of the police.

In Texas, Scott Lattin, who claimed his car was vandalized by the group, was arrested after evidence was shown that he vandalized his own car for public attention and for profit from GoFundMe users.

In Louisiana, a local church planned an “All Lives Matter” movement attempting to gather all people from different backgrounds to express the importance of all American lives through an all-day demonstration in several towns.

To those who believe that “All Lives Matter,” I would like to pose a question: If all lives really matter, then why isn’t there much emphasis put on the “Black Lives Matter” movement?

It almost seems that some people are quick to jump to the conclusion that “All Lives Matter,” but are hesitant to state that “Black Lives Matter.”

This completely undermines the entire goal of the movement, which is to make the statement that African Americans are being racially profiled as “criminals.” Lives are being taken by society that attaches false assumptions to them based on their preconceived assumptions, prejudices and racism.

Were the nine lives that were lost in a local church in South Carolina “criminals?” Was Sandra Bland a “criminal” for questioning the motives of the police at a traffic stop? Need I even mention Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown or Freddie Gray?

Even if there are certain individuals who have allegedly committed crimes, it doesn’t justify them being killed by the police. In addition, those incidents are being reflected as stereotypes of the entire group. If an African American student like myself were to walk home from school, would the police look at me any different from any other individual in America? Would I be considered suspicious even though I didn’t commit any crimes?

It saddens me that this is the reality I have to face because of beliefs about a particular group of people that aren’t necessarily true.

The irony is that it’s not difficult to understand the social movement that’s raising the importance of how dangerous these stereotypes are when it comes to people’s lives, but easy for people like Trump to believe that a “hate group” is trying to make statements about police treatment.