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Why Black Lives Matter

By Florence Katusiime

Added 13th June 2020 01:28 PM

The Black Lives Matter movement was born from an acknowledgment that indeed all lives should matter, while the All Lives Matter slogan was a born out of a knee jerk reaction by white supremacists to gaslight the Black Lives Matter movement

Why Black Lives Matter

Florence Katusiime

The Black Lives Matter movement was born from an acknowledgment that indeed all lives should matter, while the All Lives Matter slogan was a born out of a knee jerk reaction by white supremacists to gaslight the Black Lives Matter movement

OPINION

A few days ago, a local media outlet allowed a group of its performers donned in "All Lives Matter" T-shirts on air at the time when people worldwide were highlighting the plight of blacks through Black Lives Matter protests. 

I was appalled, to say the least, as were many other Ugandans who took to social media to express their disappointment regarding the act, which alluded to a lack of intention to learn about the plight of black Americans and, indeed, that of black folk worldwide.

On May 25, George Floyd was yet another black person killed by police in the US. This sparked a series of protests in all US states and 18 countries around the world. People took to the streets to protest the unjust killings of black people and to demand an end to racial inequality. Therefore, the move by the outlet was reckless and inexcusable. 

Viewers trust the media to provide insightful and informed content. My biggest critique of the outlet's action is the choice to operate from a place of indifference. One of the station's presenters took to Twitter later to defend what had happened saying; "… the lives of women who die of maternal mortality matter too".

This reaction by the presenter is ignorance dressed in arrogance. His tweet was a clear indication that he was not well-informed about the reasons for the existence of the Black Lives Matter movement. The Black Lives Matter movement was born from an acknowledgment that indeed all lives should matter, while the All Lives Matter slogan was a born out of a knee jerk reaction by white supremacists to gaslight the Black Lives Matter movement. 

In the US, where blacks make up only 13% of the population, they are five times more likely to be incarcerated than whites. Saying black lives matter does not insinuate that other lives do not, but is only meant to highlight the plight of blacks at the hands of racists.

Now, some may say that the outlet's action was from a place of recognition that we need to fight for all people equally. Are there issues in Uganda that we should be more focused on than what's happening in America? Perhaps, but at this moment, we are focused on police brutality and oppression towards blacks in the US. 

As a Ugandan living in the US, I can tell you first hand that my elite education and privileged upbringing has not sheltered me from the pain that comes with blackness. Before moving to the US, I had little to no consideration for my existence about my being black. All this got stripped away on my arrival, and I had to give myself a crash course in blackness. 

I am proudly Black, but I am also committed to calling out ignorance about the plight of blacks in the world. Being a few thousand miles away from where the Black Lives Matter movement was born does not give one an excuse to be misinformed about it. 

Well-roundedness is important. Unlearn the mindset of not caring about issues that do not hit close to home. This very mindset plays a part in ignoring issues such as domestic violence or sexual abuse of minors here at home. 

There needs to collectively fight for the freedom and liberation of oppressed people everywhere. It starts with being armed with ample knowledge and an openness to learn. I am preparing to head back to New York because I must return to those streets that sometimes deem me less. I demand that I and the people that look like me be treated with the dignity that we deserve. Until then, All Lives Don't Matter. 

The writer is a Ugandan based in New York City

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