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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Black Lives Matter and/or All Lives Matter?

2016 November 14


Black Lives Matter and/or All Lives Matter?

#BlackLivesMatter and/or #AllLivesMatter? Both hashtags (trending topics on social media) have ignited a national conversation on the use of police brutality, and the mistreatment of minorities in America. While they don’t have to exist separately, the way they have been discussed in the political arena of the 2016 election has pitched them against each other. One such culmination of this was in the Democratic Presidential Debate, when candidates were asked “do black lives matter or do all lives matter?”

Despite existing since 2012, the #BlackLivesMatter movement didn’t receive significant media attention until the months after the Ferguson protests in relation to the killing of Michael Brown. In the 4 hours following the not-guilty verdict, the hashtag was used 92,784 times. #BlackLivesMatter is self-described as “a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates American society.” The intention of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag is to broaden the conversation around state violence to include all of the ways in which Black people are intentionally left powerless at the hands of the state.

In public discussion surrounding the movement, #AllLivesMatter has been used as an alternative statement. Unlike the Black Lives Matter movement, it has no specific origin, but instead developed throughout debate as being a less-exclusionary statement. South Carolina’s First Black Senator since Reconstruction, Tim Scott, used the statement in an interview on CNN, citing that this statement allows us to see what we have in common and bridges ...

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