Parsing “Black Lives Matter”

We have heard the phrase for quite some time, but to tell the truth I still don’t know what the words mean, although I may be the only one who has this difficulty.

I don’t wish to be ultra-metaphysical about it, but while I can understand each of the words on their own, in combination very little comes clear.

What, for example, is a “black life”? I can see that “black” may be referring to a skin colour, but I don’t see how that works in combination with the word “lives”. Do lives come in colours? Are there any other colours in which lives come? What specifically is a black life? How does a black life differ from a life of another colour? Comes to that, what other colours do lives come in?

OK, so suppose we can find a definition of this entity described as “black lives” how do we interpret the word “matter”? What does it mean to matter? As a verb, “matter” is defined as “to be important or significant”. Fair enough, but in what way is that so? A life which is coloured black is said to be “important or significant”. To whom is it important or significant? To whom should it be important or significant? Not instantaneously clear. To an individual? Which individual? To anyone else? To whom? In what way should it matter?

According to wikipedia:

Black Lives Matter (BLM) is an international activist movement, originating in the African-American community, that campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people.

Turns out that the words should not be divided but only read together and as such it is an “activist movement”. So we have this:

Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, direct, or intervene in social, political, economic, or environmental reform with the desire to make changes in society.

Let us therefore bring “movement” into play.

A political movement is a collective attempt by a group of people to change government policy or society with mainly political goals. Political movements are usually in opposition to an element of the status quo and are often associated with a certain ideology.

Black Lives Matter is therefore an attempt by a group of people (and not necessarily just black people) to change government policy or society with mainly political goals. It is thus a lobby group.

What is its program? What are its aim? What does it seek from others? What legislation is sought? How would the world be different if they achieved their goals?

1 thought on “Parsing “Black Lives Matter”

  1. Pingback: Parsing “Black Lives Matter” - The Rabbit Hole

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