How to Explain Black Lives Matter to White People

Scene from the film Dear White People
Roadside Attractions
Scene from the film Dear White People
Roadside Attractions

If you haven't been there yet, you will.

Sometime in the near future, you'll be in the break room at work when Jennifer starts asking questions. (You know Jennifer. She works with all of us. She's the too-friendly white lady who writes her name on her food, shows you pictures of her cats and touches your hair.)


Even though Jen can be annoying, you don't dislike Jennifer—in fact, you admire Jennifer's inquisitive privilege, because she believes she has the right to know everything: from why black people don't shampoo their hair every day to why Rosa Parks "couldn't simply move to another seat instead of causing all that ruckus."

OK, admittedly, Jenny has a lot of hair-based questions, but—because she watches Sean Hannity on Fox News every night—soon she will begin to ask questions about Black Lives Matter. Sadly, you're Jenny's only black “friend,” and Jennifer has heard that the Black Lives Matter movement is a roving mob of angry, dreadlocked black militants seeking revenge on white people for the sins of their ancestors. Jennifer is afraid, and it is up to you to answer her questions:

Are you a member of Black Lives Matter?

No, Jenny. Nor are most of the people you hear say, "Black lives matter." While Black Lives Matter is an organization with local chapters, it began as an affirmation and grew into a movement. Many of the people you hear use the phrase don't belong to an organization or go to meetings. They are simply affirming the importance and value of black lives in a world that seems to systematically extinguish or ignore them.

So why do they get mad when people say, "All lives matter"?

Because anyone who says, "All lives matter" or "White lives matter" is only saying it in response to the phrase "Black lives matter." Most of the time, it is an effort to negate #BlackLivesMatter. They're doing it to be antagonistic. In fact, if the people who say, "All lives matter" actually believed it, there wouldn't be a need for #BlackLivesMatter. Plus, there has never been a dispute about whether white lives mattered. History shows that. Statistics show that.

But why are they so anti-cop?

They're not.

Then why do they protest against cops so much?

Because cops keep killing black people.

Yeah, but they kill white people, too. They kill twice as many white people as blacks.


You're right, Jenny. But there are four times as many white people as black people. They kill black people disproportionately. Every study ever done shows it.

But wasn't there a recent Harvard study that shows that they kill black people at the same rate as white people?


Yes, there was, Jenny. But like every other study, the Harvard study showed that officers touched, hit, used force and arrested blacks disproportionately. Surprisingly, it also showed that blacks were killed at about the same rate as whites. Every scientist and statistician (including those at Harvard) who read it, however, says the methodology used in the study was flawed.

But why do they incite people to hate cops and shoot them?

Can you point to a member or proponent of Black Lives Matter using violence against a cop?


Well, no, but I've seen videos of Black Lives Matter protests with people screaming anti-cop chants.

Are you a Republican, Jenny?


Jen, I've seen videos of people at Donald Trump rallies wearing swastika armbands screaming the n-word and advocating hanging and shooting black people. You're a Republican, Jenny. Does that mean you are anti-black?


Of course not! You know that. I tell you how much I love your hair every day!

I know, but there is legitimate distrust of police officers. Do you remember that time that cop killed a black kid and served time in jail? Do you remember how—as soon as it happened—every cop, and the police union, said, "That is a despicable act, and we don't condone that kind of violence?" Do you remember that one time when the cops came out of the shadows and publicly admitted that one of their fellow officers was a little too racist or trigger-happy?


 No, I don't remember that.


So why don't they protest against black-on-black crime? Sean Hannity says it will take cops 40 years to kill as many blacks as are killed by black-on-black crime.


Jenny, first, you should know that most violent crimes are committed by people of the same race. According to the Department of Justice, 56 percent of white victims of violent crimes were victimized by white people. Sixty-two percent of black victims of crime were victimized by black people (pdf). When a white guy shoots up a movie theater or a Stanford student rapes an unconscious girl behind a dumpster, it is never called "white-on-white crime." It would take cops 160 years to kill as many white people as are killed by other white people. Black-on-black crime is a myth.

Second, in every city, there are organizations, marches and events to fight crime and violence. In fact, many of the people involved in the BLM movement are also in anti-violence movements.


The third thing you must understand is that Black Lives Matter concentrates on violence by the state; therefore, asking why it doesn't address black-on-black crime is like asking the American Cancer Society why it doesn't address AIDS.

The fourth thing you should know is that Sean Hannity is a racist f—ktard.

Why don't they protest when white policemen are killed?

Jen, black people want good policemen around as much as anyone. However, the point of #BlackLivesMatter is to stop violence against black people by the state. When black people are killed by police officers, no one goes to jail. It rarely even results in charges. On the other hand, police rarely need anyone protesting for them. People who commit those acts against cops are killed by bomb-carrying robots or shot by snipers. If they make it out alive, they usually get life in prison.


Oh, I see now. That's why you say, "Black lives matter"! Because statistics show that the state and American society don't reflect the fact that black lives matter. Now I think I get it! This has been very helpful. Can I ask one more question?

Sure, you can. What else would you like to know?

Can I touch your hair?

Don't make me f—k you up, Jen.