‘Black Lives Matter’ Confounds White People

New poll shows that ignorance must truly be bliss and the BLM's true message has still not been heard.

Photo by Shutterstock

A recent poll conducted by PBS NewsHour and Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion on race relations and racial equality found that the majority of Americans feel race relations are getting worse.

Results from the poll, divided by responses from whites, Blacks and all respondents, showed all three groups were pretty close on their feelings of race relations.

When asked, “Would you say race relations in the U.S. are better, about the same, or worse than they were a year ago?” 58 percent of all respondents, 60 percent of whites, and 56 percent of Blacks said they believe race relations are worse.

However, most of the other questions showed differences in opinion. When asked about equal justice, 87 percent of Blacks responded that African Americans and whites do not have the same opportunity in equal justice. Meanwhile, whites were almost equally divided on the issue, with 50 percent saying both groups do have the same opportunity and 46 percent saying they do not.

A large divide was seen when those polled were asked about their thoughts on Black Lives Matter: 65 percent of Blacks responded that the movement focuses on issues of racial discrimination; however, only 25 percent of whites responded in this way. Meanwhile, 59 percent of whites described the movement as a distraction from the real issues, whereas only 26 percent of African Americans felt this way.

These results speak to the lack of education on the movement and show that the movement’s message still has not been heard. However, this does not come as a surprise given how the movement has been described by political figures in the media.

Several Republican candidates vying for the 2016 presidency have made public over the past few months their misunderstanding of the Black Lives Matter movement (which is troubling since this issue is currently at the forefront of social justice issues in America). In August, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee demonstrated his complete lack of knowledge of the movement in an interview with CNN.

“So I understand how people have great passions,” he said, “but I also understand that the way you begin to resolve them is you do it by loving people and treating people with dignity and respect, and you don’t do it by magnifying the problems; you really do it by magnifying the solutions.”

However, Huckabee clearly did not do his homework before making those assertions. The Black Lives Matter group launched a comprehensive platform, Campaign Zero, earlier that same month. The detailed website includes a section dedicated entirely to solutions and has ten suggestions they would like to see implemented: “Integrating recommendations from communities, research organizations and the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, these policies aim to protect and preserve life.” Had Huckabee taken the time to actually research the issues he was speaking about, perhaps he would have delivered a different message.

Most recently, Ben Carson slammed the group, saying, “My beef with the Black Lives Matter movement has been, I think they need to add a word. And that word is ‘All.’ All Black Lives Matter,” he said, and added, “of course all lives matter. When we get off into a little thing that says, ‘No, this is the only thing you can say,’ that’s sickening to me.”

What Carson, like many Americans, fails to see in the movement is the true message of the group. It does not strive to elevate any lives higher than others; rather, the slogan comes with an implied “too” to serve as a reminder that Black lives matter in addition to all other lives.

If Americans who responded to the poll are listening to descriptions of the movement from people like Huckabee and Carson, the results are far less surprising. However, even a brief visit to the Campaign Zero website gives a detailed account of the group’s goals and shows clear, demonstrated and detailed research went into the platform. Rather than just a “distraction” or “slogan,” Campaign Zero provides the problem, solutions, research and more, complete with statistics, facts and figures.

When looking at what political figures have publicly said regarding the Black Lives Matter movement, the results of the poll become less surprising. However, when comparing the rhetoric of Huckabee and Carson to the Campaign Zero platform, it becomes clear that a little more knowledge on this crucial issue would perhaps change their perspective. The poll also shows that perhaps people should not rely on mainstream media for their education on social justice and other political issues because it is clear that those speaking out have not always taken into account all the necessary facts.

Recommended Articles


  • I think Americans are seeing the usually violent nature the protests evolve into. That’s what is on the news. Perception is reality for many people. I don’t discount that BLM has a well thought platform.

    • America needs to pull their head out of their a%$#@! Police brutality isn’t some fly by night fad of the week. It’s been going on since law enforcement was formed as an institution in this country. America, especially and specifically White America needs to commit itself to eradicating institutionalized racism. White Americans must stop only acknowledging racism, racists and associated acts but come into an awareness these are their horrific acts to own as well as the after effect as a result. So if Black people get violent because they are being mistreated, it’s out of necessity and virtual life or death situations. Whereas Whites collectively and consistently engage in violent acts because of government imposed taxes (Revolutionary War & Mexican War), college and professional sports championship game riots, Pumpkin Festivals and my personal favorite race riots where a Black man raped/smart mouth/eyed a White woman to justify White violence on Black people. Peter “F” America and Whites perception of BLM if they can’t induce a total memory recall of all racial injustices by this country and its people to Black people.

    • Peter, unfortunately the Black Lives Matter organization does not have a well thought out platform. Dr. Ben Carson is absolutely correct by suggesting that the name of said organization should be ” All Black Lives Matter”. Police brutality against Black Americans pales into virtual insignificance when compared against Black on Black brutality. Witness the Black on Black murder rates in Chicago, Baltimore, New York. Where are the mass demonstrations and vocal organizations protesting the epidemic of under 25 year old Black males murdering each other on a daily basis for decades now? Those leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement who are being given public forums to voice their ill conceived protests are deaf, dumb and blind to the before-mentioned violence.

      • Dr. Carson reminds me of Bill Cosby and Ward Connerly. He has a (post-medicine) career because he works hard to make white people comfortable. He’s a lost soul.

      • James Foster

        I’m confused. How does “Black Lives Matter” differ from “All Black Lives Matter”? Ben Carson is trying to straddle the fence between his predominately white world while trying desperately to not completely lose the world he was born in. He keeps falling over on the other side despite himself.

      • Dallas, without even getting into the issue of whether or not that is statistically the case and if it is, how the only explanation for it (other that those offered by classical and widely ridiculed biological racists, which rely on genetic white supremacy) is economic inequality imposed on black communities externally, I feel the need to point out that your argument is the equivalent of, if someone rescued an orphan in the United States, saying “you know you really should let that orphan die. There are way more orphans in danger in Syria, it’s wrong for you to save orphans here unless you save them too.” It’s stupid to address a political movement that addresses real extrajudicial murders you haven’t disproven by demanding they address an entirely different problem. You don’t dismiss justice on the grounds that it isn’t justice for everyone everyone. Opposition to police brutality is not support for black on black violence (and anyway, many of these groups are deeply concerned with black on black violence and talk about it frequently, especially when not concerned with presenting a united front to casual racists asking them why they don’t focus on black on black violence, and if you had any direct experience with them you’d know that). It’s possible to oppose both, and absurd to demand a movement focus one something other than what it is built around. If you’re so concerned with black on black violence, YOU should start a movement opposing it. I’m sure your nuanced understanding of race and racism would be welcomed by the black community.

    • I don’t understand black lives matter…. All these people are primarily concerned with the few MURDERS (they are murders) of young black men by white police officers. However, black lives matters is not addressing the thousands of young black men killed by other young black men. Almost all crime is intraracial (black killing other blacks / whites killing other whites). I think the movement should address this issue.

      • This is a excuse white people use and it’s disturbing and it’s offensive.
        I’m afraid if you dont see the different between the gun of a police officer and a gun of a criminal we are all lost. How can we let the police ,police our neighborhoods if they are a lethal threat to our children. To frame it in your world,why talk about the babysitter that is molesting your kids ( it’s only one person), and not discuss all the molesting going on in your city.The correct answer is you deal with both, but you start with the one you can controle.
        We have to deal with the police first and after that police will have to deal with the criminals, because that is there job. BLM is not the police, we did not pay them a salary and gave them a badge, gun and mandaat to keep the order. But guess what the police dont police anymore they let the neighborhoods with problems drown in there problems.

      • Cody, it is not as much about the murders as the accountability of the murderers. When “the thousands of young black men killed by other young black men”, as you put it, occurs… then police swoop in and arrest those responsible, they go to jail, etc… those individuals are held accountable. When an officer unnecessarily kills a black man (who was not charged with anything, or who was completely restrained, or for whatever reason was not a threat and there was NO valid reason for their death)… the officers just get away with it. There is an investigation while the officers are on paid vacation, and they might get moved to another office, but nothing happens. And officers KNOW that nothing will happen… so those few “bad” cops get to kill whoever they would like without any accountability. THAT is where there is a huge disconnect… there will always be a few bad eggs, no matter how progressive we become as a society, but they need to be held accountable for their actions. That is the entire point of blacklivesmatter.

  • WHY….are only Blacks and Whites being polled, surveyed, etc., on racial issues?!

    I KNOW why the mainstream, White-owned media does it: they don’t want Whites, in general, to know that Asian- & Latino/a-Americans, and Native “Americans” agree with African Americans on these issues.

    By over-focusing on African Americans, it makes it looks like ONLY Blacks are concerned with institutional or systemic racism, and that the other Groups of Color are not experiencing or suffering from discrimination.

    • Good point. Everyone once again is focusing on the symptom and not the issue. If and I say IF race relations are actually worse and I doubt they really are, it’s because the mainstream media wants the masses to believe that so they spun things to make it so. The BLM movement is a noble one but there are a few issues. There is talk of a website that very few people know about (raise some money and put the movement in the mainstream with adverts), it’s difficult to understand how BLM wants everyone to listen but I haven’t seen them address black on black crime which is s HUGE problem in communities, finally, when BLM does make it to the mainstream it’s because someone is yelling or otherwise being irrational and the media uses it against the group because they spin things to focus on that instead of the message. Learn to use the media against itself and stop letting it define who you are based on their view of you.

      • I know you mean well Tracy but I detest when people talk about the need to address “Black on Black crime.” White on white crime accounts for 84% of whites who were murdered (homicide trends in the United States 1980-2008). Basically, the majority of violent crimes are intraracial. For some reason people tend to focus on Blacks exclusively even though information about intraracial violence studies is everywhere. The other thing that isn’t taken into consideration are the number of Blacks killed from the beginning of the last century through it’s end by whites. Interestingly, those statistics are not available because very few studies were conducted. Let’s separate the two subjects and give them both the attention they deserve, but stop using intraracial stats to support Blacks being ultra violent.

  • Black lives do matter (too). I get that and believe there is justification for rethinking many of the current policing methods. The BLM cause could be a vehicle that initiates America to notice that change is necessary. However, video of a group associating themselves with BLM demonstrating and yelling the slogan “Pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon” was powerful and is now part of the public data base that helps form the opinion of BLM. My belief is that the slogan does not reflect the BLM cause and that message has to get out as loud and clear as the video.

  • The BLM movement will fade into nothingness.

    There is no central voice, and people don’t go to websites to check out 10-point plans. They look for leaders to lead, and they loook for them to condemn violent actions.

    When the narrative that captures the mainstream media is:
    * “Pigs in a blanket……. Fry them like bacon.”
    * “What do we want?” “Dead cops!” When do we want them?” “Now!”
    * Two angry Black women shutting down Bernie Sanders’ rally in Seattle, screaming “I’m not reasonable!!!!!”
    * Liberal politicians getting shouted off stage because they dared to say “Black Lives Matter. All lives matter.”

    That IS the mainstream narrative, and with no leadership combattng that narrative, the BLM movement will fade into nothingness…….. Mark my words, 2 years from now, it will be a side note in our history.

    And I think that’s a shame, because there are real issues of injustice that are being surfaced that could be worked on.

    • Dan and reibson, that’s why it’s up to both you guys to push this message of police brutality and its ugly and violent reoccuring effect on American citizens in particular the Black community. This is a Black issue but a White problem. I say this with the assumption you two are White men. You two and more people who similiarly share your ethnicity are the pathway to resolving police brutality and the related violence afterwards. So I would say this to you two, “don’t let 2 years pass for this problem to fade away into oblivion”. If this happens, you’re part of the “White problem”. Silence is only compliance in another form.

      • Well stated, Lee (and yes, I am a White man.).

        Police brutality is a real issue, and it is definitely/significantly more prevalent against Blacks.
        And I am not OK with that.

        I will fight injustice wherever I see it.
        I will stand on the side of what is right.

      • Frankly, we aren’t the pathway, not in the sense that is often suggested. I know I risk speaking about something it isn’t my place to assert here… As a radical, I hear a lot of black radicals arguing that it is the responsibility of whites to close the race gap. That whites created it, whites are responsible for it, and whites benefit from it. And that, here is the main point I hear, it isn’t your responsibility to educate us about race. That is true. It’s right. It’s fair. It’s also totally unrealistic as a political approach to achieve change. Whites indeed created the race gap, and perhaps it SHOULD BE our responsibility. But unless you trust the white community to do it of their own volition, you are going to have to make it your responsibility. Frankly, the vast majority of the white community isn’t that interested in educating themselves about race. They feel obligated when obvious racial injustice is presented to them, however, because most people are good when being good is the path of least resistance, and most white people today think of racism as evil, even if they frequently practice it and benefit from it, and it is important to their self image that they are able to think of themselves as anti racist, or at least not racist. When you hear the phrase “I’m not a racist, but…” that person is not lying to you, they actually believe it. The good news is that means most whites will support a struggle they view as a genuine fight against racism, at least on facebook. The bad news is that means most whites will be instinctively resistant to any facts associating them with racism, and that as patriots who want to believe the structures they support and participate in daily are, if annoying, essentially just, they will shy away from, ignore, or at best pay lip service to, institutional racism. They tend to insulate themselves from any truly challenging analysis of race, to insulate their egos, and then have barbecues on MLK day and show off their misinformation about George Washington Carver. The only way to break through this suburban miasma of subconsciously calculated apathy is with A. A steady stream of exposure to the realities of racial injustice, laden with both logos and pathos, and B. A consistent and widespread attempt to engage the vacillating mass of white moderates in discussions about race which educate them about and involve them in active opposition to racial injustice without threatening their egos by making them feel like racists (your average white man spends a great deal of his time around blacks worrying about not coming off as a racist, mainly for the benefit of his own ego). This may not be right, or fair, or just. It is not your responsibility. It’s just the thing you do if you ever want racial injustice to end.

  • I seriously doubt that BLM will be a “side note” in history for the simple reason the the main issue it is dealing with (police brutality) will still be going on,and will still have to be dealt with. And if you are online, you know there’s a heck of a lot more to the mainstream narrative (which you know dosen’t get far below the real surface of what’s behind the protests.) I don’t see how you can sit there and just base the very little you obviously know about BLM on some soundbites you saw for two minutes on the news, and make some stupid statement claiming they’ll be gone in two years, because you don’t even know that. . Look at the Campaign Zero website that Mr. Visconti put a link to on here, and you will see that BLM has a very well-put together platform which proposes real-world solutions that can be implemented to cut down on police brutality and build brides bwt the police and the communities they patrol.

    • The reason I think the BLM movement will dissolve into nothingness isn’t because the issue will go away. The issue has been here for centuries and it won’t go away anytime soon.

      But, just like OCCUPY WALLSTREET, without central leadership, and with various factions giving soudbites that drag the movement down, it will dissolve. That’s just the way these things work.

      I would LOVE for the movement to result in the saem fair, respectful treatment of ALL people by police officers. I simply don’t think this movement will facilitiate that.

      You’re welcome to call my statement stupid. I stand by it. Time will tell and sadly I’m pretty confident that the BLM movement will not accomplish it’s stately goal.

  • Another thing—the fact is black people’s lives obviously do NOT matter to the police, or to a lot of non-black people in law enforcement, otherwise the police wouldn’t be so quick to shoot them in situations where they would normally deal differently with a white person. Let’s be real and admit that some people’s lives matter more to others simply because they aren’t black—period. That’s the truth, and you know it. So all this “All Lives Matter” is just a bunch of BS said by people who don’ want to admit how race plays a very huge factor in how people are disproportionally treated across the board in our society.

    • Kwik, the data clearly shows that you are right…. Black peole’s lives do not matter as much to the police. I’d say that’s pretty clear.

      I have no problem admitting that the data bears out that Black people are more likely to be shot by police than White people – simply for being Black. and THAT IS NOT OK!!!!

      Those of us who support “ALL LIVES MATTER” aren’t saying that Black Lives don’t matter. In my book, ALL LIVES MATTER. BLACK LIVES MATTER EVERY BIT AS MUCH AS ANY OTHER LIFE.

      I do not discount Black lives. Period.
      I also don’t discount other lives.

      If that makes me evil in the sight of some BLM supporters, so be it…..

      • Dan I am a supporter of BLM and I don’t think that you are evil, but I do however think that you are missing the point that is trying to be conveyed. I can’t speak for everybody on how they feel, but I can speak for myself in saying that I agree that all lives matter. BLM is not saying that all lives don’t matter BLM is however saying that Black Lives Matter just as much as other lives and until this is reflected in plain sight this movement will need to stand as is. When you have the fear that your loved one won’t come home because they have been gunned down by the police for simply being black then you can say all lives matter until then all lives matter has no impact on how I feel.

        • Thanks, Schawanna, for your well reasoned reply.

          If I saw the BLM movement reflecting what you wrote, I’d be in favor of it.
          Referring back to what I wrote above (direct quotes form BLM protestors), I can’t support that.

          Be well!


    • I agree, with one correction. The data shows that, while the victims are disproportionately black, the victimizers are racially representative of the police department. In other words, black policemen are just as likely to commit crimes of an institutionally white supremacist nature as white ones. I don’t have an interpretation for this statistic, but the data bears it out.

  • My understanding is that more white people die at the hands of police than any other race in the United States. If there is a bigger stack of dead white bodies than any other race at the hands of cops, why does the narrative of police brutality revolve only around black bodies? Why is it politically incorrect to question that narrative? I think that some people find the spotlight on irresponsible policing to be intrinsically devisive because it declares that “black lives matter”, and that any other interpretation of the situation, like “all lives matter”, or “all black lives matter”, though true, are incorrect and racist. Though the article suggests that “back lives matter too” is implied by the slogan, other implied interpretations come to mind as well, like “only back lives matter”.

  • When the Komen Foundation has breast cancer awareness functions, they are never questioned on why they don’t do something about heart disease since heart disease kills more women than cancer. Or why they never talk about the women being killed by domestic violence. People seem to understand the focus of the breast cancer awareness movement. The focus of BLM is unchecked police brutality, violence and murder against unarmed black people. Any attempt to divert or deflect or feign ignorance or be unaware of that focus is done simply because these people condone the actions of unchecked police accountability against black people. In fact. They relish it.

« Previous Article     Next Article »