Do black lives matter to America?

Adesuwa Oiyemhonlan, Guest Columnist

Do black lives matter? That’s a question we all need to ask ourselves.

The Black Lives Matter movement was created in the aftermath of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, to bring light to a problem that is happening not only in America but around the world.

No one in the movement has said that other lives don’t matter, just affirming that black lives matter as much as everyone else’s.

Studies have shown that black women are three times more likely to die during childbirth than any other race. So does that mean those black women’s lives didn’t matter?

Many black people grew up being taught a litany of rules about what you should and shouldn’t do in public: Don’t put your hands in your pocket, and if you get pulled over make sure your hands are visible at all times. It’s little things that can put fear into the hearts of black kids —especially young black men.

Some question the focus of the movement, asking that since all lives matter why should we emphasize black lives? It’s because so few understand the challenges or appreciate the contributions of black Americans.

Without African Americans the music you enjoy today wouldn’t be here. The new braided hairstyle you love so much wouldn’t exist. There are so many things that blacks have done for America but yet we are still underappreciated and sometimes treated like garbage. There are those who believe black people cannot be successful, and some who even think many will end up dead or in jail.

The BLM movement simply wants to break the cycle of violence that black people experience disproportionately.  There will always be the stereotype that black kids are afraid of their mothers. But the truth is we are actually afraid of the police and anyone else who wants to see us dead.

There were more than 900 police shootings last year and a good majority of those people killed were black. Do their lives not matter because they were black? People wonder why the BLM movement is so active. It’s because they are tired of seeing black people being killed over dumb and avoidable things.

I am tired of being scared that when I get pulled over by the police that the officer will shoot me if I blink an eye. There will be people who say  “I know what it feels like. I grew up around black people.” But in reality they don’t know what it feels like at all.

Being black in America means you have to always be cautions whenever you are doing anything — even when you are in your own home.

That means you can’t even go out with your grandma without people calling the cops on you, claiming that you are robbing her.

Botham Jean was a young African American male who was in his own home when he was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer who mistook his apartment for hers. Does that mean his life didn’t matter because she made a mistake? Or does it mean that America will turn a blind-eye to the problem at hand?

What do all these stories have to do with Black Lives Matter as a movement? We as African Americans and Americans in general cannot let blacks continue to be killed and not do anything about it.

When’s the last time you’ve been followed in a store or called a racial slur simply because you are trying to live your life? Or told that you should not play the victim? The truth is that just being born black automatically makes you a victim without doing a single thing.

So, does my black life not matter to you? What about your neighbor or that little girl who rides the bus everyday just to get to school? Do their lives not matter?

The next time you think of saying something bad about the BLM movement remember this: We all bleed the same blood, our hearts beat the same way, so why doesn’t my life matter if I am simply trying to do what everyone else is doing, and that’s live my life? Being black isn’t the issue, the real issue is that you don’t care enough.