Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

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Updated Jul 30, 2020 at 09:05AM EDT by Y F.

Added May 01, 2015 at 04:57PM EDT by Ari Spool.

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Black Lives Matter, also known by the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, is the name of a movement created by three Brooklyn women during the protests following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2013, which intends to "affirm the lives of black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, black undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all black lives along the gender spectrum."[1] The movement grew in traction during the police brutality controversies in Ferguson, MI, New York City, and Baltimore, MD throughout 2014 and 2015.


Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi began Black Lives Matter as a response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2013. Alicia Garza, writing in The Feminist Wire[2], explained

Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.


During the protests over the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown in late 2014, the hashtag went viral worldwide, often paired with similar hashtags like #Icantbreathe and #handsupdontshoot. Twitter released this map to record the uses of the hashtag during the protests. In January 2015, the American Dialect Society chose the hashtag form of the phrase as their word of the year for 2014.[1]


By the end of July 2015, over 980 Black Lives Matter demonstrations were held across the world and 23 chapters were launched in the United States, Canada and Ghana.

Bernie Sanders Demonstrations

In July 2015, Black Lives Matter demonstrators disrupted a town hall with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Governor of Maryland Martin O'Malley at the Netroots Nation conference in Phoenix, Arizona (shown below). On July 19th, the #BernieSoBlack satirical hashtag was created by by podcaster Roderick Morrow to mock Sanders' views on racial issues.

On August 8th, Black Lives Matter activists interrupted a Sanders rally in Seattle, Washington, where they claimed the candidate was not addressing issues of criminal justice and race. The activists walked onstage, took Sanders' microphone and demanded four-and-a-half minutes of silence for the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown's death (shown below).

That evening, Sanders issued a statement[7] about the incident, expressing his disappointment with the event's interruption:

"I am disappointed that two people disrupted a rally attended by thousands at which I was invited to speak about fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare. I was especially disappointed because on criminal justice reform and the need to fight racism there is no other candidate for president who will fight harder than me."

The following day, posts about the incident reached the front page of the /r/news[4] and /r/politics[6] subreddits, where many criticized the activists' behavior and questioned why other candidates were not targeted. Also on August 9th, Redditor PhysicsIsMyMistress posted an Annoyed Picard image macro questioning why Black Lives Matter activists would target a supporter of the movement to /r/AdviceAnimals[5] (shown below, left). Within 48 hours, the posts garnered upwards of 6,800 votes (94% upvoted), 6,900 votes (92% upvoted) and 3,700 votes (88% upvoted) respectively. On August 10th, the /r/punchablefaces[8] subreddit was flooded with images of one of the protesters drinking a glass of water while wearing a shirt with the phrase "sipping on white tears" printed on the front (shown below, right).[8]


Notable Examples


Blue Lives Matter

In November 2014, amidst the turmoil of violent clashes between protesters and the law enforcement forces in Ferguson, Missouri, radio talk show host Barry Gadbois tweeted a message in defense of the cops on duty at the site of the protests with the hashtag #BlueLivesMatter (shown below).

Barry Gadbois @BarryGadbois Cops have a right to defend themselves and an obligation io阝nioci: you #BlueLivesMatter #Ferguson

A few weeks later, in December, the hashtag was picked up by various news outlets when New York Police Department (NYPD) Sergeant Joey Imperatrice began promoting the slogan "Blue Lives Matter" in the wake of the fatal shooting of two NYPD officers on duty, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, in an ambush attack in Brooklyn, New York. In March 2015, the hashtag trended on U.S. Twitter in the hours after two police officers were shot in Ferguson, Missouri.

All Lives Matter

In December 2014, as the #BlackLivesMatter movement began to approach its critical mass, many detractors of the anti-racial profiling movement began rallying around the alternative hashtag #AllLivesMatter, asserting that the latter hashtag would be a more appropriate name for the message of the movement.

All Lives Matter All people, regardless of race/gender, deserve fair treatment within The United States Of America. This includes fair treatment from police, fair treatment within the workplace, fair treatment on the streets of our great country We shouldn't have segregated causes such as "Black Lives Matter" or "NAACP". We should be aware that all Americans are equal in all ways. ALL LIVES MATTER" stands for All Americans, All Races, All Genders, all Sexualities. EVERYONE IS EQUAL. We all have the same blood, same skeletal structure, same problems, same Earth, same Moon, same countries, and we shouldnt have to try to fight or struggle based on the color of our skin or the shape of our genitals. We Are Equal! EVERYONE IS EQUAL

Since its emergence online, the derivative hashtag has steadily gained traction among the critics of #BlackLivesMatter protests in the social media and prompted a still-ongoing debate over its propriety in the blogosphere, though its scale of overall presence online remains hardly comparable to that of the original hashtag movement.

Robot Lives Matter

On February 13th, 2015, Youtube user PEACEMAK3R J uploaded a video[28] of Boston Dynamics robots undergoing stress tests, and edited it to make it look like the robots were being abused. The video spawned several parodies,[29][30] including one made by Greg Killian, titled "Robot Lives Matter (ASPCA Parody)" and posted February 25th, 2016 (shown below). The video has 875,000 views as of August 16th, 2016.

Black Olives Matter

On July 13th, 2016, Paisano's restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico, put the words "Black Olives Matter" on their marquee (shown below).[17] It immediately created a controversy, as many found it in poor taste, but it did wonders for the restaurant's business,[18] which kept the sign up even after the New Mexico NAACP requested it be taken down.[19]

On August 5th, 2016, Paisano's announced that they were selling T-shirts with "Black Olives Matter" printed on them (shown below).[20] After KOAT[21] reported on the merchandise on August 15th, 2016, the story gained national attention. It trended on Twitter[22] the next day as the debate on whether the phrase was offensive or harmless swirled. News outlets such as The New York Post,[23] USA Today,[24] The Blaze,[25] Fox News,[26] NY Daily News,[27] and more covered it.

Search Interest

External Resources

[1] Black Lives Matter

[2] The Feminist Wire – A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement by Alicia Garza

[3] Washington Post – Watch as Twitter shifts from “#BlackLivesMatter” to “#ICantBreathe” -- and back again

[4] Reddit – Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was shoved aside onstage

[5] Reddit – Regarding Black Lives Matter hijacking the Bernie Sanders rally

[6] Reddit – Bernie Sanders rally

[7] Bernie Sanders – Sanders Statement on Seattle Protestors

[8] Reddit – Why is the r/all page flooded with r/punchablefaces of one girl

[9] Twitter – Barry Gadbois' Tweet

[10] WikipediaBlue Lives Matter

[11] BBC News – 'Blue Lives Matter' trends after officers shot

[12] The Guardian – 'All lives matter' is and always was racist – and this weekend's Trump rally proved it

[13] The Huffington Post – What's the Matter with 'All Lives Matter'

[14] Daily Caller – President Obama: ALL LIVES MATTER

[15] The Hill – Poll: Most black people prefer 'all lives matter'

[16] New York Times – What’s Wrong With ‘All Lives Matter’?

[17] FacebookPaisano's

[18] HEATSTREET – UPDATED: ‘Black Olives Matter’ Sign at Italian Restaurant Sparks Backlash

[19] KRQE – Restaurant comes under fire for pun on sign

[20] Facebook – Paisano's

[21] KOAT – Paisano’s selling 'Black Olives Matter' shirts after controversy

[22] Twitter – Black Olives Matter search

[23] The New York Post – Restaurant slammed for ‘black olives matter’ merchandise

[24] USA Today – Italian restaurant selling 'Black Olives Matter' T-shirts, hats

[25] The Blaze – US
Restaurant Selling ‘Black Olives Matter’ T-Shirts After Online ‘Black Lives Matter’ Controversy

[26] Fox News – Italian restaurant under fire for selling 'Black Olives Matter' merchandise

[27] The Daily Mail – Outrage as controversial New Mexico restaurant now sells 'black olives matter' shirts and hats

[28] Youtube – Stop Cruelty! Stop Robot Abuse!

[29] Digital Trends – The latest Boston Dynamics video has inspired tons of ‘Robot Lives Matter’ parody videos

[30] Youtube – Robot Lives Matter search

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