What Is the “Why” Behind Black Lives Matter?
By Heyward Watson
I have seen the signs “Black Lives Matter” while driving through my West Seattle neighborhood on my way to drop my wife at work in downtown Seattle. As a Black man, I think people expect me to know the “Why” behind the Black Lives Matter movement.
However, I did not know how it started. During a recent discussion with Third Sector Company colleagues on Simon Sinek’s bestselling book entitled, “Start With Why” I started to become interested in the “Why” behind nonprofit organizations and social justice movements.
The theory is that people are more interested in why organizations started doing something in the first place. In other words, the purpose or cause is more important than how the organization does what it does.
I discovered that Black Lives Matter (BLM) is “a decentralized political and social movement protesting against incidents of police brutality and all racially motivated violence against black people.”
The purpose behind BLM is self-preservation because Alicia Garza, one of the original organizers of the movement, sent a Facebook message to her friend Patrice Cullors, a Los Angeles community organizer. After the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a police officer who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager, Alicia felt saddened that many people appeared to blame the victim and not the “disease” of racism.
Her “Why” was and is simple.
She wanted to do something that would demand dignity for Black lives in the face of police brutality around the country. You can read about the beginning of the movement here.
The “Why” behind Black Lives Matter is complex and encompasses four facts that I think are important to understand, which are described in this article.
As the Senior Strategist for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access at Third Sector Company these facts resonate with our purpose to serve nonprofits and their communities. In our Equity Statement, a portion states, “We acknowledge and honor the fundamental value and dignity of all people, and we pledge our individual and organizational efforts to build respect, dignity, caring, and equitable treatment for all.”
This means that we agree with Black Lives Matter in building respect, dignity, caring, and equitable treatment for Black people. Black lives are not more important than any others but are just as crucial as others.
I believe that the “Why” behind BLM is something many people can generically understand and support. All lives are meaningful in making contributions to the betterment of this world. As a community that serves nonprofit organizations, we get to see this in action every day.
We welcome your thoughts as an essential part of this conversation about the struggle against oppressive systemic structures wherever they exist, even in nonprofit organizations.
Senior Strategist, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access
Third Sector Company, Inc.
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