Why “Black Lives Matter” and not “All Lives Matter”
As your Students’ Association, we stand firmly against racism. We know that our Universities, Colleges, and academic partners are not free from racism and we stand in full solidarity with all those protesting racism, in Scotland, in the UK, America and across the world, now and always.
We are committed to promoting equality across our community and educating ourselves on such social injustices. It’s time for us to listen to and amplify the black voices around us, donate to bail funds where possible, stream to raise money, sign petitions, email our MPs, support local black creators, and work together to dismantle systematic racism and oppression.
Please see below our second statement.
Proponents of ‘All Lives Matter’ justify their position by referring to how slavery was historically practiced by all civilisations, which targeted people from all sorts of different backgrounds and ethnicities. This is an undisputed fact; slavery was a very lucrative business during the ancient and medieval period practiced by the Romans, Phoenicians, Persians, Arabs, and the list goes on.
Enter The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
However, the implications of trans-Atlantic slavery have proven to be the most damaging of all for several reasons. In previous centuries, slavery was not synonymous or specific to any one group of people. Slaves were spoils of war, regardless of anything else. In fact, the meaning of slavery in the medieval period did not carry the same negative connotations as it did during the trans-Atlantic period. In North Africa, for instance, slaves were incorporated into the larger family of the enslavers, becoming ‘members’ of that family rather than ‘property’.
With the introduction of trans-Atlantic slavery, Africans became the prime target of the enterprise resulting in Blackness becoming synonymous with slavery. Moreover, to justify the large-scale enslavement of Africans, European colonialists crafted a narrative that striped Africa of any cultural or civilizational achievement, thus reducing Africans to subhuman status. This notion underpinned a specific ideology that has been gaining strength for the past 400 years.
It is apparent that the movement ‘Black Lives Matter’ addresses an issue with profound historical roots that go beyond the simplicity of the slogan itself. Black lives haven't mattered in a very long time and now it is about time that they do, and for us to take historical responsibility. Saying that black lives matter does not mean that other lives do not. A fire service would not point its houses at all houses in the neighbourhood when one house is on fire under the justification of ‘All Houses Matter’.
Although the conscious association of blackness with sub-human status has decreased in its degree of intensity over the past 20 years, it still predominates certain patterns of thinking in our current society, resulting in institutionalised and systemic racism. The examples are numerous both in the UK and the US, culminating in the recent murder of George Floyd. This proves how blackness is still synonymous with negative connotations, a product of the trans-Atlantic slavery.
Blue-eyed blondes in Spain are not told to “go back to their own country” when their ancestors arrived as slaves from Ukraine in the 900s, nor are the descendants of white slaves in North Africa, who were captured by the Ottoman Empire from the British Isles in the 1500s.
To learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement, and to understand how it affects those around you, check out our resources.