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Six Metaphors to Help Explain ‘Black Lives Matter’—In Terms Simple Enough for a Child

As the world stands up and speaks out for social justice, more parents are having conversations among themselves and with their children about the past, present, and where we go from here. But language matters just as much as learning. For example, given various U.S. systems and institutions act as though Black lives are dispensable, it is imperative to say “Black lives matter,” as opposed to “all lives matter.” 

“The reason ‘Black Lives Matter’ went from hashtag to a movement illustrates exactly why saying it out loud was necessary in the first place,” notes Ginna Green, a political strategist, writer, and mom of four from Stamford, Connecticut. “Anti-black racism is hardwired into America's DNA, and it touches Black lives every single day—from cop killings to predatory lending to poorly-funded schools. To say ‘Black lives matter’ acknowledges that in many ways we never did—not to suggest that anyone else matters any less.”

Explanations of the statement and the importance of not saying “all lives matter” have been popping up all over social media. Here, six examples that nail it.

1. “We Never Said Only Black Lives Matter”

In a moving viral photo, a 6-year-old girl named Armani from Paris, Tennessee holds a poster that reads, “We said ‘Black lives matter.’ We never said ‘only Black lives matter.’ We know ‘all lives matter.’ We just need your help with #BlackLivesMatter for Black lives are in danger!”

2. It’s This House That’s on Fire

Actress Given Sharp explains in a popular TikTok video that “all lives matter” is like saying “all houses matter” when one in the neighborhood is on fire. On Instagram, she elaborated, “The fact is that white lives have ALWAYS mattered in the eyes of the government and police force. The same cannot be said for POC. No one is saying your life doesn’t matter. However, until the day comes that Black Americans aren’t being shot in their homes, in the street, and in their cars, you CANNOT tell me that all lives matter in the eyes of our society. All lives won’t matter until black lives do.”

3. A Broken Bone

Through a cute gingerbread drawing, a U.K.-based illustrator showed how saying “Black Lives Matter” is like giving necessary attention to a friend who has a broken leg. 

On Twitter, Semaj Mitchell offered a similar version of the same analogy involving a broken arm.