a political and social movement originating among African Americans, emphasizing basic human rights and racial equality for Black people and campaigning against various forms of racism. Abbreviations: BLM, B.L.M.
The hashtag itself, #BlackLivesMatter , was chosen by the American Dialect Society as its 2014 Word of the Year, because it played such an important role in current political discourse. As a first for a hashtag, the vote led to passionate discussions over whether a hashtag can be a Word of the Year. There was also discussion as to whether a three-word phrase could be considered a word. The society argued that while hashtags, especially phrasal ones, may not fall under “the traditional definition of a word,” some can become “vocabulary items” and end up seamlessly woven into the language.
Originally used as metadata to organize messages on Twitter, hashtags now can function just like words or phrases do. Black Lives Matter , with or without the hashtag, with initial capital letters or entirely in lowercase, is now commonly used as a phrase and can refer to broad, general principles: Does the candidate believe that Black Lives Matter? We need to assert that all Black lives matter.
The phrase also has influenced the language of activism, inspiring people to rally around similar hashtags, such as #BlackKidsMatter , #BlackWomenMatter , #BlackLawyersMatter , and #BlackTeachersMatter , which focus the values of the larger movement in support of specific groups within the Black community. Another spinoff of Black Lives Matter centers on a profession instead of race: #BlueLivesMatter gained exposure on social media when police officers were killed on duty.
But the visibility of Black Lives Matter has caused some to misinterpret the movement’s mission as valuing Black lives above other lives. For example, the hashtags #WhiteLivesMatter (used by a white supremacist group of the same name) and #AllLivesMatter (used by mostly white and conservative critics) have sprung up in opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement.
However, these derivative and evolving hashtags have been subject to criticism on varying levels, as many view them as attempts to detract attention from the vital efforts to ensure basic human rights and dignity for all Black people.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use Black Lives Matter in a sentence
A few carried signs: "IMAGINE JUSTICE," "Black Lives Matter," "CLAIM HUMANITY."Justice League Vigil for Slain NYPD Officers Asks Whose Life Matters | Olivia Nuzzi | December 22, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
A diverse crowd held up signs that read, “Black Lives Matter” and “Am I Next?”This Week's Riots Are Part of America's Long History of Racial Rage | Sharon Adarlo | November 29, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
The American economy does not teach us that “Black Lives Matter,” at least not as much as white lives.
One of the animating slogans of the protests in Ferguson has been "Black Lives Matter."The Question in St. Louis County: Can Whites Empathize With Blacks? | Sally Kohn | August 23, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST