09/13/15 Jindal Prayer Rally

Louisiana State Troopers line up the next generation of troopers prior to the rally on Monday Sept. 14, 2015, at the Louisiana State Capitol.

It’s time everyone get educated on what “Black Lives Matter” actually stands for and stop looking for ways to co-opt it.

Lamar Advertising Company, based in Baton Rouge, has donated more than 150 “Blue Lives Matter” billboards as their way of thanking law enforcement. These billboards have been popping up across the nation within the past month.

It’s extremely disturbing to see “Blue Lives Matter” billboards plastered across the country during the midst of another Civil Rights era — it’s actually a slap in the face.

According to The Rouge Collection, Hal Kilshaw, vice president of Government Relations at Lamar Advertising said, “We’re using our digital billboards to voice respect for police officers across the country who put their lives at risk every day to keep the public safe. This is our way of saying thank you.”

It’s one thing to show police officers respect, but I need to know why Kilshaw thought showing respect meant co-opting a movement that holds so much meaning and passion to so many people, especially in the black community?

Unfortunately, Kilshaw failed to respond after multiple attempts to contact him.

Yes, America does need law enforcement to bring order to our country, and I do appreciate the good that some officers do for our country. However, there’s a difference between “Black Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter.”

You’re not required to be a police officer. An officer can call it quits whenever he’s good and ready or pick another career. However, black people can’t stop being black. We can’t erase our blackness because we’re sick of police killing us. After a rough day, we don’t get to turn in our resignation.

It’s time to look at the broader message. Black people aren’t just disgusted that law enforcement officers kill black people at twice the rate they kill white and hispanic people, according to The Guardian. It goes deeper than innocent and unarmed black men dying.

If George Zimmerman was convicted for the killing of Trayvon Martin, the “Black Lives Matter” movement wouldn’t have started. Alicia Garza, co-founder of the movement, wrote, “I created #BlackLivesMatter ... as a call to action for Black people after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was posthumously placed on trial for his own murder and the killer, George Zimmerman, was not held accountable for the crime he committed.”

Black lives matter in the form of justice as well. That’s what people don’t understand. Black people aren’t just fighting for their lives, they’re fighting to see justice for Mike Brown, Victor White, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and many others who died from injustice.

If a black man killed a cop today, we wouldn’t think to question whether or not he would be convicted — we know he would.

The “Black Lives Matter” movement isn’t controversial, so stop making it seem like that. Let black people continue to fight for equality. Either join the movement or do something more productive. I’d recommend taking a yoga class.

The “Blue Lives Matter” billboards need to be taken down. It’s not a thank you to law enforcement, it’s a discomforting way of taking a side when there shouldn’t be sides to take.

Clarke Perkins is a 19-year-old political science sophomore from New Orleans. You can reach her on Twitter @ClarkePerkins.

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