Started as a rallying call by three queer black women following a series of police killings of African American men, Black Lives Matter has transformed into an intersectional global movement fighting for justice, rights and, frankly, a joyous and peaceful future.
As Latinos, who also experience racialized police brutality and mass incarceration at disproportionate rates, along with anti-immigrant laws that aim to break our families apart, it can be easy to wonder, "what about Latino lives?"
But here’s the thing: Saying black lives matter isn’t code for "all other lives are worthless." Latino lives are important, but instead of erasing the black struggle through problematic offshoots like "all lives matter," we should be supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Here’s why:
1. Many of us are black.
"Black people" isn’t synonymous with "African-American people." When activists declare that black lives matter, they are saying that all black people, including Afro-Latinos, are valuable, important and deserving of justice.
2. We’re linked.
Our struggles, even for those of us who aren’t Afro-Latino, are linked; therefore, helping to dismantle the racist systems that incarcerate one in three black men can also put a crack in the structures that place Latino families in detention centers.
3. We're neighbors.
Black and brown people in the U.S. have always lived in the same neighborhoods, worshipped at the same churches, attended the same schools and frequented the same stores and restaurants. We are neighbors and allies in the class and race struggle.
4. Our community needs a reminder, too.
Despite our shared oppressions, our proximity to black people and the Afro-Latinos in our own familias, internalized and interminority racisms run deep in the Latino community. As such, by supporting Black Lives Matter, we have the opportunity to bring important, nuanced conversations about racial justice to our homes.
5. It’s the right thing to do.
As Desmond Tutu once said, "if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." We are reminded every day, through police violence, mass incarceration, homelessness, the foster care system and sexual abuse, that black and brown lives don't matter. The messages are further shoved onto us through racist stereotypes perpetuated in film, TV, music, the news media and social networks. Proclaiming that black lives matter, and putting that into practice through activism and our votes, is what’s right, regardless of our shared experiences and proximity to non-Latino black people.