You may never hear this from the news media, politicians, or community activists, but the two entities mentioned above in the title are not the same. “Black lives matter” represents a statement of values, while “Black Lives Matter” represents a political movement. Let’s drill down to explore how the two differ.
Black lives matter as a statement of values raises some questions. What makes any life matter? Why do any of us have value? People ascribe value to one thing or another, or to one group or another, but people are fickle, and opinions change. Various people have differing views of what matters, or even differing views of truth. Where can we turn for a secure understanding of value, or of what matters?
When I want to know what is true or want to understand what matters, I go to God’s revealed word. And God’s word, the Bible, makes strong statements about the value of human life. For example, Genesis 1: 27 states, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:31 adds, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” Among other things, this tells us that God created us in His image, and that His creation is good. It does not take much of a stretch to realize that human lives have value because God creates them.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” and Romans 5:8 says, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Not only are we created in God’s image, and not only are we part of God’s good creation, but God loves each of us so much that He sent His Son to save us from sin. We have value because God values us. We have value whether we are black, white, or some other race; rich, poor, or middle class; or old, young, a baby, or as-yet unborn. Regardless of who we are, God created, loves, and values us.
“All” is a dangerous word for any writer to use, but God’s word is clear that all lives matter. However, if some people or some parts of our society feel unvalued or feel that their lives don’t matter, then those of us who know God’s love should lift them up and encourage them with God’s love, mercy, and grace. They need to know that God loves them, and that their lives matter. Do black lives matter? You bet they do!
How is Black Lives Matter different from black lives matter? I visited the Black Lives Matter: What We Believe web site (https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-we-believe/) to learn about their beliefs and purposes. Black Lives Matter removed their “what-we-believe” page in September 2020 with no explanation or explicit change in goals, but archived web pages are still available on the internet. Regardless, here is what the organization is about, in their own words:
“We acknowledge, respect, and celebrate differences and commonalities.
We work vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension, all people.
We intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.
We are unapologetically Black in our positioning. In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a prerequisite for wanting the same for others.
We see ourselves as part of the global Black family, and we are aware of the different ways we are impacted or privileged as Black people who exist in different parts of the world.
We are guided by the fact that all Black lives matter, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location.
We make space for transgender brothers and sisters to participate and lead.
We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.
We build a space that affirms Black women and is free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centered.
We practice empathy. We engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts.
We make our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work.
We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.
We foster a queer-affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).
We cultivate an intergenerational and communal network free from ageism. We believe that all people, regardless of age, show up with the capacity to lead and learn.
We embody and practice justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another.”
Many of the Black Lives Matter values and purposes seem positive about human life, but some of them go against God’s word. In Matthew 19:4-6 Jesus stated, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So, they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” His statement reinforces a prominent part of God’s creation, a gift from God that is a profound blessing for all of humanity.
The Black Lives Matter statement of beliefs and purposes speaks for itself, and I will note that they have a very ambitious agenda. Why do I say ambitious? Because any agenda that includes replacing what God created and called good is nothing if not ambitious.
Are black lives matter and Black Lives Matter the same? One affirms the God-given worth of people created in His image; the other reflects beliefs and purposes that aim to replace part of God’s gifts and blessings. News media, politicians, or community activists may never tell you this, but these two entities don’t have much in common beyond the name. And it is ultimately futile to deny God’s blessings.
2 thoughts on “Black lives matter or Black Lives Matter?”
I have wondered how any member of Black Lives Matter would respond if asked why do they believe any human life matters. The information from their webpage that you shared makes me think the response might be difficult to decipher.
Jesse, thanks for pointing out the significant differences between the BLM movement and the black lives matter philosophy. It is very disheartening how many people don’t take the time to research what the BLM movement is all about. If they did, they would find that it is really representing a small fraction of the black lives community and really only represents a few who want to behave in any manner they want and be left alone to do it. As you pointed out, many of the behaviors, which they claim to be rights, are really very destructive on the whole of society. On top of that the behaviors will do nothing to bring equality to the black community nor will they provide for the health, well being, and success of young black people.