The Trayvon Martin case sparked national outrage and started a trend that has left many Black lives shattered. Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old African American male who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman, a “neighborhood watcher” saw Martin returning from a convenient store and thought he looked “suspicious.” Zimmerman called the police and was told to stay in his vehicle. He did not listen. Instead, he confronted Martin, things escalated, and he ended up shooting Martin in close range and killed him. Zimmerman, who remained uncharged for a little while claimed self-defense, and because the state permitted the “use of deadly force in self-defense,” they couldn’t charge him.
This angered many across the United States as many people demanded justice. Zimmerman was eventually charged and went through due process, and on July 13, 2013, he was found not guilty. Many people felt that this incident could have been avoided and that Zimmerman simply profiled Martin as nothing more than a criminal. After the Trayvon Martin case, this prompted the birth of an organization called Black Lives Matter (BLM). Founded in 2013 by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, BLM was created to help combat racism and injustice that continues to impact Black people daily.
While the original intentions of BLM began as pure and were needed as the organization brought many Black people across the world together like Martin Luther King Jr. once did during the Civil Rights Movement. However, there has been skepticism regarding BLM and their motives. Some people now think the movement has turned into a scam, one that is purely out for money. For one, there are now two separate organizations. There is BLM and the T Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF). It has been noted that BLM is the “modern Civil Rights Movement,” while BLMGNF simply “collects the funds.” Sean Campbell, an investigative journalist, and adjunct professor for Columbia University made it known in an interview that BLM and BLMGNF are two different things run by different people and leadership. According to National Public Radio, the movement allegedly made $90 million dollars in 2020 and spent $30 million by 2021. Skepticism rose even more when BLM purchased a $6 million dollar home.
According to BLM, the purchase was made so that people could have a safe house if they feel threatened and a place for Black creators where they can come and create art. Many were upset by the purchase and did not understand the need for it and have questioned how the funds are being managed and why the need for two separate entities. One of those individuals who has had his doubts about the organization includes Kanye West, also known as Ye. West is no stranger to controversy and has been in recent controversy due to wearing a White Lives Matter shirt to his daughter’s basketball game.
Many have been upset and disappointed by the singer’s recent publicity stunt, but West has been vocal in the past about his thoughts about BLM, so this act may not be surprising to some. As a Donald Trump supporter, there was also speculation about him running for president, and some might view him wearing this shirt as a political move to increase his support from the “right wing.”
Regardless of what some may think of the movement, it has brought a movement of diversity, equity, and inclusion, which has seemingly become a trend amongst various employers and other entities.
Nonetheless, West has been disrespectful to what the movement represents and to the Black race. Wearing a shirt that says “White Lives Matter” only creates more racial tension, shows the lack of unity we have within our race, and promotes hatred. Why not wear a shirt that says All Lives Matter instead? Because it wouldn’t have created the attention that he is getting now. All of this only adds to the millions of followers he already has. It continues to create his image and set him up for more global success. It’s no secret that West has suffered from bipolar disorder, and some have speculated that his image and mental state changed when his mom died.
In response to West’s comment, BLMGNF stated, “Black Lives Matter means fighting to dismantle this system that causes institutional harm…our mission will never become a White Supremacist capitalistic commodity — a dangerous machine that consumes its own for profit.”
When it comes down to it, All Lives Matter, but All Lives Can’t Matter until Black Lives Matter too.