Obama Perfectly Explains Why “All Lives Matter” Is Wrong

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images.
Many politicians have come under scrutiny in recent months for their reluctance to acknowledge or embrace the message of the Black Lives Matter movement. President Obama isn’t one of those politicians. On Thursday afternoon, President Obama strongly defended Black Lives Matter at a White House forum on the criminal justice system.

"I think the reason that the organizers use the phrase ‘Black lives matter' was not because they were suggesting that no one else's lives matter," Obama said.

The president added, "rather, what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that is happening in the African-American community that isn't happening in other communities. And that is a legitimate issue that we have to address. The African-American community is not just making this up. It's not just something being politicized. This is real."

Black Lives Matter became a rallying cry last year, following a stream of killings of unarmed Black men and women, and most specifically the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. The movement’s focus is to bring attention to racial bias in the criminal justice system and police brutality towards communities of color.

However, critics have suggested the Black Lives Matter movement unfairly targets police, and that its real motive is exclusion — specifically, the exclusion of white people.

President Obama called that argument “an old trap” on Thursday.

"So the notion was that somehow, saying ‘Black lives matter' was reverse racism or something. And whenever we get bogged down in that kind of discussion, we know where that goes. That's just down the old trap," he said. "Everyone understands that all lives matter. Everybody wants strong, effective law enforcement. Everybody wants their kids to be safe when they're walking to school."

Black Lives Matter has become a repeated focal point for the 2016 election. Republican presidential candidates such as Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, and Mike Huckabee have dismissed the phrase.

Democrats have been more open to the movement, but only after Black Lives Matters protesters interrupted campaign events for candidates. As recently as last week, Black Lives Matters members met with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to discuss their concerns.
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