Since the Black Lives Matter protests flared up again following the death of George Floyd, it was met by some sectors of society with disdain and the hashtag #AllLivesMatter.

Ask the same people throwing this hashtag around what Black Lives Matter really stands for, and they probably won’t be able to tell you.

Black Lives Matter was formed after the death of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman. Martin was wearing a hoodie – that, it seems, was his only crime.

Zimmerman, the head of the neighbourhood watch in the Sanford suburb in Orlando, Florida, spotted Martin leaving a convenience store, and thought he looked suspicious.

He followed the teen in his car for a few blocks. When Martin asked him why he was being followed, Zimmerman confronted the boy and eventually shot him in the chest.

Since then, the movement has been called to action following the deaths of countless African Americans brutalised and at times killed by police.

Here’s part of the manifesto from the official Black Lives Matter website:

  • Every day, we recommit to healing ourselves and each other, and to co-creating alongside comrades, allies, and family a culture where each person feels seen, heard, and supported.
  • We acknowledge, respect, and celebrate differences and commonalities.
  • We work vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension, all people.

That’s particularly important in the context of the #AllLivesMatter retorts. The movement itself acknowledges that the lives of all people matter, but justice for all does not exist until there is justice for black people.

  • We intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.
  • We are unapologetically Black in our positioning. In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a prerequisite for wanting the same for others.
  • We see ourselves as part of the global Black family, and we are aware of the different ways we are impacted or privileged as Black people who exist in different parts of the world.
  • We are guided by the fact that all Black lives matter, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location.
  • We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.
  • We build a space that affirms Black women and is free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centred.

You can, and should, read the full manifesto, here.

The above isn’t hard to get behind, especially if you’ve been paying attention to what has been happening in America for the past few years –  here are the stats.

In South Africa, let’s not forget Collins Khosa and the 10 others – nine black men and one black child – who have died at the hands of law enforcement during the national lockdown, not to mention the women murdered as rates of gender-based violence continue to ravage the country.