With the recent death of Sandra Bland, and the countless other black Americans who die or are abused while in police custody every year, the Black Lives Matter movement has just as much to fight for as when it first began after Trayvon Martin's death in 2012. Hillary Clinton understands that racial discrimination is still a widespread problem in the U.S., and continues to bring up racial equality at her campaign events. While speaking at the Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia, South Carolina on Thursday, Clinton made a brilliant comment about "Black Lives Matter" that perfectly summarizes everything you need to know about the movement. She said: "We have to acknowledge and believe that black lives matter. This is not just a slogan, this should be a guiding principle."
The fact that Clinton spoke about racial tensions in South Carolina was especially significant because of the shooting in Charleston last month that left nine black South Carolinians dead in a historically black church. The state made the historic decision to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse following the devastating shooting, sending a clear message that it's time for America to address its racism problem. However, removing a flag isn't enough, and Clinton understands the deeper issue.
Clinton's one-liner is so perfect because it emphasizes that the Black Lives Matter movement is about real black lives — it's not just a catchy slogan used by a bunch of angry activists. In order to truly eliminate racism, Americans have to believe that black lives matter just as much as white lives, and treat them accordingly. The phrase "black lives matter" should guide legislation and criminal justice reform, as well as people's thinking. Once Americans acknowledge that black lives do matter, the country can start to move in the direction of equality.
Clinton has spoken about racism a lot, but this statement says it all. Even if you don't know how the Black Lives Matter movement originated or what the activists' exact demands are, you should know that the main point is to make America see that black lives are important, but aren't usually treated accordingly. Most of America's problems with racism and racial discrimination come back to this simple fact. It's incredibly important that a leading presidential candidate continues to discuss race and actually gets what the Black Lives Matter movement is all about. Hopefully, Clinton's commitment to the issue will force other candidates to address racism in America as well.