Home Opinion Opinion: The Black Lives Matter v. All Lives Matter rhetoric is broken

Opinion: The Black Lives Matter v. All Lives Matter rhetoric is broken

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The point of the Black Lives Matter movement is to assert that their lives matter, too. However, many of us are caught up in the semantics of this ridiculous hashtag battle: #AllLivesMatter versus #BlackLivesMatter. The former is being screeched by the right-wing to dismiss the African American community’s problems, and the latter is tweeted by limousine liberals in some misguided solidarity effort.

Both parties are to blame. We are allowing irresponsible partisan politics to thrive and limiting our options to address the real problems. Quit it.

Black on black violence is a problem. I am not here to speculate as to why, but it is measurably bad. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1980 and 2008, 93 percent of black homicide victims were killed by other blacks.

Not so fast. In the same time period, 84 percent of white victims were killed by other whites. Intraracial violence is hardly unique to the black community. What is unique to the black community? They make up about 12 percent of the overall population but 40 percent of prison inmates, according to 2014 research from Stanford University. Black males make up about 6 percent of the population, but in 2015 they made up 40 percent of unarmed males killed by police, according to The Washington Post.

Black Americans are disproportionately affected by both the War on Drugs and absurd policing practices. This is not up for debate. However, horrendous policing is a problem for everyone, black or white, conservative or liberal, and not just because we see our tax dollars wasted.

For the first time in 2015, American police took more from citizens in civil asset forfeiture than actual burglars took from American citizens. Mind you, it is not necessary to have even been charged with a crime for police to seize your money or property. Really makes you wonder who the actual criminals are. Additionally, of the 986 people killed by police in 2015, which in itself should be a staggering statistic, about a quarter of them displayed signs of mental illness.

Over $1 trillion have been spent “battling” drugs with nothing to show for it. People thoroughly enjoy blaming this on former presidents Nixon, Reagan and the Republican Party. And they are to blame, partially, but not entirely.

Former President Bill Clinton introduced a $30 billion crime bill that created numerous new federal crimes, established mandatory minimums for crack and cocaine possession, gave more money to states that harshly punished criminals, established new life sentence rules for three-time offenders and limited judges’ discretion in determining criminal sentences. Oh, and now his wife is running for president and heavily courting the Black Lives Matter vote.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, co-sponsored a bipartisan bill that was recently passed by the U.S. Senate, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, aimed directly at addressing opioid drug addiction. My libertarian side wants to say that it is not the federal government’s place to treat the drug addicted, but I do firmly believe this will allocate funds much better. This is a beautiful and bipartisan start to treating addicts rather than creating criminals.

The “tough on crime” approach has failed; it has fallen short by every measure. It costs us inexcusable amounts of money and perpetuates cycles of crime and poverty. If we allocated the national debt equally, it is nearly $60,000 per individual. Do we really want to keep spending money locking people up for nonviolent and victimless crimes?

We must understand why the assertion that Black Lives Matter has become so important to say. Is it divisive? Yes, maybe. Sometimes it even seems as if supporters of the movement are attempting to prioritize themselves over others, but I do not believe this is anywhere near actuality. They are demanding attention, and rightfully so given the statistics. Do I agree with their tactics or solutions? No, definitely not. But we cannot altogether dismiss their priorities as unimportant. Yes, everyone’s life is important, and we need to start acting like black lives matter too. If you really think that #AllLivesMatter, you will aid in the fight to reform our criminal justice system.

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