I'm Sick of the "Black Lives Matter" Analogies


By Jaylin Paschal

When trying to explain the logic behind the statement--or movement, rather--”Black Lives Matter,” to opposing crowds, we often resort to analogies. Black lives and black suffering is compared to cancer fundraisers, rainforests, dinner tables, abused animals, premature infants, apartment complexes, etc. I’ve read way more “black lives matter” analogies than I can count, and I’ve come up with some myself. We have spent so much time trying to create alternate universes in which specifying the value of a particular group makes sense; drawing parallels between the black condition and something--anything--that others may be able to relate to. When trying to explain why the black community is in crisis, we have tried to give them some simile or metaphor less bitter to swallow.


The black condition is not a burning house. It is not a disease fundraiser. It is not a deforested biome.

The black condition is centuries of oppression that need not be analogized so that they may be easier swallowed. The black condition is economic apartheid, mass incarceration, the wage gap, the projects, Stop and Frisk, police brutality, discrimination, lynchings, Jim Crow laws, voting restrictions, segregation, the War on Drugs, character deformation by the media, Stand Your Ground laws. It is the KKK. It is income disparity. It is misrepresentation. It is outright exclusion. It is historical, it is statistical, and it will change. But it is not to be glossed over. It should not be watered down in some far-fetched analogy. It should not be made to be easily digested, as it is not easily lived.

To foster true change, we must make people understand the black condition as it was, as it is, and as it will be. Not as it’s “like.” The simple statement “black lives matter” does not have to be rationalized into an analogy to be true. People who disagree with the statement do not need to be presented with alternative scenarios that might make more sense to them. If they truly want to understand the movement, make them work for it. Make them learn, grow, and discover why exactly we feel the need to shout declarations of our value. Do not give them the easy way out--they don’t get to think of us as rainforests, or have the luxury of seeing the evil of racism as something as pleasant as puppies or newborns. Because ultimately, “black lives matter” is just as valid as a statement without them agreeing that yes, it would be unnecessary to shout “ALL DISEASES MATTER” at a cancer fundraiser.

It is not our job to create fictional storylines that the “All Lives Matter” crowd may agree with, inclusive with pictures and connect-the-dots pages. They are not children. And we don’t have the time.