Let’s be clear, “all lives matter” is a false claim that can only be made if you actively choose to ignore that anti-black racism has [sic] and continues to exist in the United States of America.
The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter was created on Twitter in July 2013 by black queer women Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometti in the wake of George Zimmerman’s killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
A recent study of the hashtag’s use on Twitter, done by scholars Charlton McIlwain, Deen Freelon and Meredith Clark, reveals that for more than a year it was essentially dormant and only rarely used. But, on November 24th, 2014 something changed. That night, a grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson, the white police officer that shot and killed Michael Brown, a black, unarmed 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri. Within 24 hours, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter was tweeted more than 100,000 times and it and its derivatives have since been tweeted more than 40 million times.
So, what changed? Why did the simple, common sense statement that black lives matter go from barely used to defining an era’s fight against institutionalized anti-black racism in the United States and beyond?