It's a hashtag you have probably seen multiple times throughout the past few years. You've also probably read all about it in opinion pieces and heard the talking heads on TV discuss it.
Black lives matter is a movement. A movement with the goal of giving a voice to an often voiceless community (based, unfortunately, on the color of one's skin). While you have heard all about this movement, you have probably heard much less about #nativelivesmatter. That is because this voiceless community (based, unfortunately, on the color of one's skin) actually has no voice.
The Native lives matter movement isn't discussed much - if at all. It's definitely not a trending topic, nor will it most likely ever be (probably because most people just don't care - plus, more likely, it doesn't tend to stir that much division).
But it probably should be a trending topic and a popular hashtag. After all, according to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, Native Americans are more likely than any other racial group to be killed by the police. Here are a few more interesting facts:
- Native American women are twice as likely to be victims of sexual assault as women of any other race.
- On reservations, Native American women are ten times more likely to be murdered than other Americans.
- Native American youths have the highest suicide rate of any US ethnic group (and 40% of those in 2015 were between the ages of 15-24).
- The prevalence of obesity in American Indians is higher than that for any other population group.
- Native Americans are the poorest people in the US, with a poverty rate in 2013 that was twice the national average.
In North Dakota, where, months ago, people were "checking in" at the Standing Rock Reservation to protest the building of a pipeline (even though America is home to thousands of miles of pipelines), the poverty rate sits at about 43.2% - nearly triple the national average!
Think about this folks: In that small town, a reservation full of about 9,000 human lives, almost half live in poverty...and this in a country where the news of today is whether LaLaLand is actually a good movie (it's not) or arguing about why in the hell did Kellyanne Conway put her feet on furniture in the Oval Office?!? (Doesn't she have better things to do like selling jewelry or wiping her tears thinking about the horrific Bowling Green Massacre?).
And yet, the silence continues. The voiceless remain voiceless. The hashtag remains just a hash.
This article isn't meant to deny the power and importance (for good and bad) of the black lives matter movement. Rather, it is meant to be a reflection. A reflection that life can be tough for all lives. A reflection that movements can often leave people left behind. A reflection that there will always be those who are voiceless who should be provided a voice.
And that is why it is important to remember that #alllivesmatter.