Justice For George Floyd in Barcelona: “Black Lives Matter” / Dispatch From Isolation # 74

The demonstrations and protests in support of George Floyd and against racism and police brutality continue in many cities across the US.  Similarly, new reports from other countries of people marching in solidarity have brought the message to an international audience. Today we have a new mural by Tim Marsh sent to us by BSA contributor and photographer Lluis Olive who shares these images from Barcelona, Spain.

Tim Marsh. Barcelona, Spain. (photo © Lluis Olive)

As one may expect, subtleties of language may get lost in translation, so we’ll briefly mention why “Black Lives Matter” is not the same as “All Lives Matter”, and in fact the latter is received by many in the US as a dismissal of blacks, a de-facto denial of the suffering of people in an effort to erase the magnitude of a deliberately designed unfair system that threatens black people’s lives.

First, it’s good to know that Black Lives Matter is actually an organization founded by three black women in 2013 – used as a hashtag to begin with – soon spawning a movement. The BLM name came to be known as a response to the casual denigration of the sanctity of the life of Trayvon Martin, who was shot by George Zimmerman and who was found “not guilty.” So, today using the term is directly tied to that organization and time no matter the current context.

Tim Marsh. Barcelona, Spain. (photo © Lluis Olive)

Secondly, as a slogan, it is directly implied that the dominant white culture has done everything it can to deny the humanity to persons with dark skin, whether through a thousand tiny subtleties on a daily basis or through big obvious examples like state-sanctioned violence – and a gamut in between. It is a defiant statement that is made so obvious in intent that people cannot mistake its meaning. Consequently, for many, saying “All Lives Matter” is yet one more example of denigration, a sideways denial of the utter toxicity of racism and its impact, a re-direction away from the dire facts.

We know that our international friends, like this artist here, are undoubtedly trying to be inclusive when they say “All Lives Matter”. We just wanted to share that some Americans won’t understand it as such, and they may even interpret the slogan as an underhanded insult to blacks and other persons of color. After all, Women’s Rights wouldn’t even be an issue if women’s rights were equally encoded by law and absolutely insured by a fair process in greater society. Until then we’ll talk about Women’s Rights, GLBTQ Rights, Disabled Rights, etcetera.

Black Lives Matter.

UPDATE: Since publishing this article we received a message from the artist of this work above. He let us know that he had already painted over this slogan with “Black Lives Matter” – only a day after he first painted it and not as a result of this article. He had in fact not understood the implications and once he did he wanted to be clear with his intentions. This is a win for everyone, and to whatever extent we can share information and ideas to raise our collective awareness with each other and learn from each other, we say “yes!”

From Facebook:

Tim Marsh artworks

June 3 at 4:03 AM ·

First wall after the lock down.
I wanted to paint something else, but the news over the world have made me react.
What the actual fuck, people.
It seems that all over the world, racism has been increasing lately…
This is just an example of what white supremacism is causing over the world. The latest news happened in the USA, but some similar stories happened lately in france too, With people from other origins. .
This is why at first i used the sentence “All lives matter”.
And then some of you explained that white supremacists were using this beautiful phrase to protest against the protests.
Which led me to go correct the text on the wall.
Which leaves me with a wierd feeling, like forgetting about ALL the other cases.
I strongly encourage ALL the people over the world to keep fighting. Bring justice to all those abused by the police, and by all acts of racism.
All my support goes to all the people protesting, and fighting against racism, all over the world.