While sitting in a bathroom during a break between classes just the other day, my searching eyes scanned the typical stall engravings until they couldn’t help fixating on one thing: #AllLivesMatter. Now, it wasn’t that this was a new phrase to me. I immediately recognized this as the counter-campaign against the Black Lives Matter movement. I was just taken aback that this was still a blossoming trend.
“Backlash slogans,” a term I coined for groups such as All Lives Matter, Meninism and so forth, have made an appearance anywhere from social media platforms to public demonstrations to the walls of bathrooms. But whether this is perceived as an innocent joke or needed critiquing, these “backlash slogans” are hurting vital social reform efforts.
Take the debate about the diction in feminism. Notice that I specifically used “diction” because we are evaluating the choice and use of words in this campaign. The term feminism was created out of the urgency to acquire equal rights for females, hence the word feminism. As seen with the phrasing of the American Revolution or LGBT Pride, clarity of the subject matter is essential to getting supporters and a visible message line for a movement. It’s not that male rights don’t make the cut. It’s that they don’t need the reformative change.
This example is why my eyes couldn’t divert from #AllLivesMatter. It’s basic rhetorical strategies we are forgetting. If we retract the main content from these phrases, then how will a proper call-to-action rise?
Imagine if the “Fight Against HIV” in Botswana’ was generalized to the “Fight Against Any STD” or “Fight Against African Diseases.” Right away one is able to understand the lost effect from losing part of the subject line. Now, it’s not that the other STDs or African diseases are less important, but rather we are targeting this specific cause needing particular attention – especially when there’s a 22.2 percent HIV adult prevalence in Botswana, according to avert.org.
Even though this seems obvious and silly to break it down this way, some people can’t grasp this idea in a modern-day scenario, such as Black Lives Matter. Mapping Police Violence found that unarmed black people were killed at five times the rate of unarmed whites in 2015. That’s a nonnegotiable fact.
Additionally, we see a lack of justice given to several black victims like Alton Sterling, Eric Garner and Michael Brown. In short, it’s essential we use distinct language like ‘black’ instead of ‘all’ to solve these distinct problems, not to exclude or be narcissistic about a certain group.Remind one another of three elementary things: diction’s significance, the real target message and the consequences, intended or not, of ‘backlash slogans.’ If these elements are kept in mind, then we will start seeing more societal changes that will ultimately better everyone as a whole.