Black Lives Matter Movement
BlackLives Matter Movement
Thefocus of this paper will be on the global social movement known asthe Black Lives Matter. The paper will look into the origin of themovement and how it developed into its current state. The analysis ofthe uprising will revolve around the various factors that may haveled to the establishment of the Black Lives Matter and how theconcerns of the movement are being communicated to the society. Otheraspects such as the ways in which the movement relates to otherfields of study like psychology, political science and economics willalso be evaluated to establish any resemblance. Finally, factors thathave led to the success of the movement will be discussed. Theresearch paper will eventually assess the relevance of socialmovements and how such actions can be beneficial or harmful to thesociety. The future of the movement will be speculated based onvarious criteria to see whether it will grow in strength oreventually simmer down.
BlackLives Matter Movement
Overthe years, there has been a heated debate over the rise of movementsseeking to end injustices and harassment against the blacks. One suchmovement is the Black Lives Matter. The question that has dominatedthe political and social arena is, do all lives matter or do blacklives matter?(Siscoe, 2016).The All Lives Matter is a movement that was formed to counter themessage conveyed by individuals who supported the Black Lives Matterprotest. According to Siscoe(2016),the opponents of the Black Lives Matter argue that the movement isnot needed since America is now a post- racial society. Besides,there are people who claim that the Black Lives Matter movement iswidening the gap between the blacks and other races. As such, tosome people, the social movement is creating bigger problems comparedto what it hopes to achieve: end injustice and police brutalityagainst the blacks (Buechler, 2016).  It does this bydiscounting those who are not black. For instance, some individualsargue that Hispanics and Mexicans are harassed and killed in equalnumbers as the blacks. Also, the movement is viewed by someAmericans as aiming at ensuring that the blacks rise against all theother cultures and race instead of coming together as one(Siscoe, 2016).One of the questions that this paper will seek to answer is, does therise of the Black Lives Matter have more negative than positiveoutcomes? The other question is, is the Black Lives Matter movementneeded in the America’s post-civil right era?
TheOrigins of the
TheBlack Lives Matter movement was formed in 2013 by three communityactivists named Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. Thethree individuals were all members of a national organization knownas Black Organization for Leadership & Dignity (BOLD)(Buechler, 2016). The creation of the Black Lives Matter was a response to theacquittal of a coordinator of a neighborhood watch group known asGeorge Zimmerman. Zimmerman was accused of the shooting and killingof an unarmed teenage boy known as Trayvon Martin. Soon, acyber-battle began, and followers of the movement wrote about theirgrievances using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. In 2014, the movementtook to the streets after the killing of yet another black youth.People from different cities went to Ferguson and participated in apeaceful demonstration as a reaction to the unjustified shooting ofMichael Brown. The organization grew in popularity as more peoplebecame aware of the issues that the movement wanted addressed(Buechler,2016).
TheBlack Lives Matter Social Movement
TheAfrican American community has been initiating various socialmovements over the last few years as a way of ending police brutalityon the black youths as well as the violence directed towards peopleof the African-American descent by vigilante groups. Thesecontemporary movements base their origins on the civil rightsmovement that took place in the 1960s. These uprisings include theFerguson Action, Say Her Name, and Black Lives Matter(Buechler, 2016).Policebrutality has been plaguing America for centuries, and the minorityraces, particularly the African-Americans have been on the receivingend of acts of cruelty perpetrated against them by the lawenforcement agencies(Siscoe, 2016). Overthe recent past, there has been a surge of police officers shootingblack youths and not getting indicted for their heinous actions.According to Lowery (2017), the death of the Trayvon Martin andMichael Brown in the hands of incompetent and racially biased policeofficers conveyed the message that the lives of blacks and theirbodies could be destroyed and abused without the perpetrator facingany consequence. According to MacDonald (2016), approximately 6,000blacks are killed every year in the United States this is despite theAfrican American comprising of only 13% of the total population. Thisnumber is larger than the Hispanic and white homicide victimscombined. As a result, during its inception, the Blacks Lives Mattermovement aimed at the humanization and celebration of blacks lives.
Unlikethe other social movements that have occurred in America, the BlackLives Matter is unique because it comes at a time when the majorityof Americans believe that they are not racists(Siscoe, 2016). Many people in America believe they do not care about other people’srace. The denial by most Americans has given birth to what somescholars are calling colorblind ideology(Siscoe, 2016). On this note, the colorblind ideology has created “a conflictbetween the need to avoid seeing race to appear egalitarian and theneed to see race in order to remedy inequality” (Peery,2012, 476).Inthe modern America, it is not socially acceptable for a person todiscriminate against another individual based on the color of his/herskin and this is why most people think that racial profiling is notan important issue in the country. However, even if most Americansthinks that a person’s skin color is not an important determiner ofhow he/she will be treated, most of them confess to feeling insecurewhenever they encounter a group or even a single black man,particularly in isolated places. McDonald (2016) gives a very goodexample of an elderly cancer amputee who resides in the Mount HopeSection of Bronx and who could not go to her lobby mail box becauseof the many young black men trespassing the area. The old lady onlyfelt safe when the police are in the vicinity.
Besides,the Black Lives Matter comes at a time when America is yet to recoverfrom the greatest recession the country has ever witnessed since theGreat Depression. The current generation has to deal with an economythat is characterized by a tenuous and fragmented labor force, morework for less pay, and education, housing, and healthcare debts thatby far exceed the people’s earnings(Siscoe, 2016). According to Buechler (2016), the black millennials stilldisproportionately incur the far-reaching consequence of the 2007Great Recession
Argumentsagainst the Black Lives Matter
McDonald(2016) argues that the Black Lives Matter and other anti-copcampaigns have devastating effects on the crime rates in the country.According to McDonald (2016), following the surge in the anti-copcampaigns that has been witnessed in major cities over the last twoyear, police officers in those areas are cutting back on policingstrategies that have been proven to be effective in triggering adecline in crime rate. Consequently, instead of acting proactively,most police officers are waiting until a 911 call is made. The reasonfor doing this is because every police officer is afraid thatemploying his/her discretion to stop and search people would beinterpreted as racial prejudice and this would put his job on theline. McDonald (2016) even gives an example where the fear of beingtermed a racist could have caused the death of a police officer inBirmingham. In August 2015, a Birmingham police officer was beaten bya convicted criminal until he became unconscious. During theincident, the police officer was hesitant in using his gun as thecriminal failed to stop when he was requested to do so. Instead ofstopping, the felon grabbed the officer`s gun and ended up beatinghim up brutally. Besides, the first three months of 2016 saw thenumber of police officers killed in shoot-outs almost double. On thisnote, McDonald (2016) argues that more police officers are killed byblack compared the number of African Americans who die in the handsof law enforcement personnel. Additionally, for McDonald (2016), thelargest perpetrators of the murder of blacks are their fellow AfricanAmericans. For this reason, McDonald (2016) maintains that eventhough the police were to end all the use of dangerous weaponsagainst the blacks, it would have at most a trivial effect on theAfrican Americans death-by-homicide rates. It is evident thatMcDonald fails to understand the objectives of the Black Lives Matterprotests. The participants of the various Black Lives Matterdemonstrators are not against all the police. They are only concernedabout a small group of police who use unjustified force againstpeople of the African American descent. Besides, the demonstratorsdo not aim at having the judiciary abolished. Their only concern isthe leniency with which those who execute blacks are handled by thecourt system(Siscoe, 2016).
Duringthe Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, African Americans hadaccepted the fact that they are a minority race in America but theyrejected the notion that they were second-class citizens hence theywere seeking to achieve the same voting rights as the whites. Duringthe years that culminated in the Civil Rights Movement, the racistideology was based on the believe held by the Whites that the blackshad lesser intelligence and this is why they could not be allowed tomingle freely with other groups (Buechler, 2016). For instance, therewere different schools and housing for blacks and whites in America.During this time, segregation and use of derogatory statementsagainst the blacks were the norm. Consequently, the Civil RightsMovement of the 1960s aimed at challenging the societal norms thathad legitimized the mistreatment of the people of African Americandescent (Colas, 2013). To many people, the granting of the votingrights to the blacks was supposed to be the end of civil rightsmovement in the country since the African-Americans could elect oneof them to represent them in the political debates. Upon the grantingof the voting rights, the blacks in America were in a better positionto take leadership positions. However, according toToch (2013),the Civil Rights Movement only worked towards eradicating the legalbarriers of communication but did not provide a solution to all formsof discrimination against the Blacks. According to Lowery (2017), theindividuals who participated in the Ferguson demonstration are heirsof people born as recently as the 1970s and 1980s following thesuccess of the Civil Right movement of the 1960s. For close to 40years, the beneficiaries of the Civil Right Movement have largelyfocused on utilizing the opportunities provided to them toparticipate in the political process. They have adopted a strategy ofensuring that as many blacks as possible are registered as voters.Registering as voters was only part of the strategy to gain politicalmileage because since the end of the Civil Right Movement of the1960s the country has seen a surge in the number of black leaders whohave been elected to public office (Colas, 2013).
Onthe other hand, there are some people who maintain that the movementhopes to revive the days of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960swhen it was a matter of “us versus them”(Siscoe 2016)According to Siscoe(2016), whatthe All Lives Matter movement is doing is to depict the Black LivesMatter movement as anti-White rather than pro-black. By concentratingon the “black” part of the movement, people are missing theconcerns that the members of the African Americans race are raising. The does not seek to show that the livesof other races are valueless. What it intends to show is that thereis a reason the black lives also matter. What many people seem not tounderstand is that the movement is a call-to-action to encouragepeople of all races to unite against racial inequalities perpetratedby the police against black people. It also seeks to fight againstthe demilitarization of the state law enforcement agencies (Siscoe,2016).According to Toch(2013), membersof the African Americans are subjected to psychological torture on adaily basis as they live in fear of untimely death at the hands ofthe police with no hope of recourse from the country’s courtsystem.
Accordingto Colas (2013), social movements comprises of already constitutedorganizations with strategies, stages of development, and empiricalidentities, among other features. However, the Black Lives Matterdiffers from the many social movements that have been witnessed inthe country. For instance, no single person was leading the Fergusondemonstrations following the killing of Michael Brown. However,Chrisman (2015) refutes the argument that the Black Lives Matter isleaderless. Instead, Chrisman (2015) argues that it is a formationthat is primarily made up of self-led and self-mobilized stakeholderswho have the same political goal which is to change the way thepolice handle blacks whom they perceive to have committed crimes. Theconceptualization of a social movement is based on the concepts suchas social change, control, rhetoric, and agitation (Colas,2013). According to Colas (2013), agitation refers to thepersistent advocacy for social change. In agitation, the forcesseeking to thwart the social change tend to be persistent and willingto fight in the battle as long as it takes. Mostly, agitation occurswhen a minority group challenges the status quo and is met withresistance from the dominant race and this result in the formeradopting uncommon persuasive approaches(Toch 2013).As a result of lack of support from the dominant groups, theminorities opt not to rely solely on verbal persuasion to attaintheir goals. Consequently, the media end up terming the agitators asradicals considering their semi-violent approaches. According toChrisman (2015), agitation may occur on two levels. The first levelinvolves agitation based on vertical deviance which entails theminorities accepting the established value system but disagreeing onthe distribution of power or benefits. This is what the Black LivesMatter is all about.
Chrisman(2015) refers to the dominant group that usually blocks social changeas the establishment. As far as the Black Lives Matter movement isconcerned, the establishments are the local police officers and stategovernments. These are the groups with the support of the dominantrace that are willing to do everything they can to protect the powerthat they have. For instance, the St. Louis Police Department spent$172, 669 on restocking lethal ammunition and tear gas for fear offuture demonstration following the shooting of Michael Brown(Chrisman, 2015). The other ways the dominant group uses to protectits powers is by establishing the rules and developing labels such as“superior and inferior.” In this case, the blacks are viewed asthe inferior race. To further remain powerful, the dominant groupensures that it has control over the media. Thus, it makes sure thatthe information conveyed by all media outlets is favorable to itsposition (Buechler, 2016). In one of the Black Lives Matterdemonstrations that took place on August 28, 2014, hundreds ofagitators and media personnel were arrested. According to Lowery(2017), over 150 individuals were arrested in Ferguson in the weeksfollowing the killing of Michael Brown, and they were all chargedwith "failure to disperse." During the incident, the localgovernment failed to control the media coverage, and hence the entireworld could see the chaos that occurred in town. After theestablishment had failed to utilize the mass media to theiradvantage, they resulted in using coercive power in order to have theagitators retreat (Chrisman, 2015).
BlackLives Matter and the Social Media
TheBlack Lives Movement has relied heavily on the street protests andthe social media to pass its message to the relevant authorities andglobal audience. Demonstrators in The Black Lives Matter had a simpleslogan that says “Hands up, don’t shoot.” The slogan solidifiesthe group in that it connects them with their course. In most cases,victims of police brutality are usually unarmed when they are shotand killed. For instance, people who witnessed the death of MichaelBrown said that the young man had surrendered when he was shot andkilled instantly (Chrisman, 2015). Since its inception, Black LivesMatter is a true manifestation of the power of the social media inthe initiation of change in the 21st-centurysociety. The use of the social media by the BLM can only be likenedwith the Arab uprising (Freelon, McIlwain, & Clark, 2016). According to Freelon et al., (2016), social media has helped socialmovements of the 21stcentury since their messages posted on Twitter, Instagram, andFacebook attracts curious onlookers, opponents, allies, andjournalist who seek to make a statement on the issue in question. Thename of the movement was derived from a hashtag developed by threeAfrican America activists namely Opal Tometi, Patrisse Cullors, andAlicia Garza. Through social media, the BLM has many leaders sinceevery person can post his/her message regarding police brutality.This has resulted in the decentralization of power which has beeninstrumental in triggering large protests. Unlike other movementssuch as the Civil Rights Movement, the leaders of The Black LivesMatter do not need to send letters or make phone calls to mobilizeenough number of protestors at any time (Freelon et al., 2016).
Accordingto Toch(2013), BlackLives Matter movement represents an active engagement with thepresent moment by highlighting the persistent violence and bringingto the attention of the world the various double standards,fallacies, and hypocrisies in which white supremacy is founded.Although the demonstrators are seeking to ensure their children havea better future, the movement is propelled by the notion of “hereand now.” The magnitude with which the movement has grown since thedeaths of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin shows the precariousnessof the black lives. The movement seeks to challenge the principlesupon which the America’s society is built the notion that allpeople should enjoy equal entitlements such as the pursuit ofhappiness, liberty, and life. According to Khury (2016), the BlackLives Matter is heading towards the establishment of an ideologicalframework that would shame the America’s society on a global level. While its primary aim is to challenge the killing of AfricanAmericans by police officers, its long-term goal is to deprive thewhite supremacy of the oxygen that has been fueling it. This isevidenced by the increasing wave of protests targeting universitiesthat are fueled by the injustices perpetrated against the blacks whenit comes to getting access to equal education opportunities (Khury,2016).
Althoughthe BLM is centered on the experience of African Americas withimplicit bias, profiling, and police brutality, its success willbenefit all races across the country (Khury, 2016). The socialchanges that will be achieved by the willhave positive effects on every American’s physical andpsychological health and the quality of life as well.Anymarginalized group subjected to bias and brutality by the police andthe judicial system will benefit from the success of the BLMmovement. The desire for justice will bring forth satisfaction of thenatural desire for individual autonomy and fear of abuse, physicalinjury, or death perpetrated by the authorities (Chrisman, 2015). Besides, the Black Live Matter emerged following the collectivetrauma subjected to the members of African Americans in the form ofconsistent assault, victimization, and death perpetrated by the lawenforcement personnel. Therefore, the BLM has a psychological goal oferadicating the effects of the collective trauma experienced by allmarginalized groups in American and achieving a positive socialengagement between blacks and the various stakeholders in thecountry’s criminal justice system (Khury, 2016).
AccordingtoPeery (2012),the majority of Americans advocate for a colorblind approach to thesocial issues facing the country since it allow them to avoidremedying or acknowledging inequalities while maintaining theirrelative advantages. Peery(2012) citesa Professor named Gregory Jones who argues that social categoriessuch as race are inherently good since they help in making cognitiveprocessing much easier. In America, race is a psychologically salientconsidering the country’s history of stratification on the basis ofone’s skin color and conflicts over access to resources and groupstatus. Even today, race continues to play a pivotal role inpredicting social outcomes in areas such as employment, housing, andeducation(Peery, 2012).Most Americans belief that discrimination based on one’s race nolonger exists. Some Americans even think that noticing that a personcome from a different race is admitting that skin color matters.Compared to during the Civil Rights Movement, the forms ofdiscrimination against the minority have changed. The discriminationof people based on the skin of their color has been replaced bycolorblind or cover racism which is centered on the cultural failingof a particular group (Peery,2012). Asa result of the high number of blacks in federal and statecorrectional facilities, most Americans have come to believe thatthere is something ingrained in the African-Americans` way of lifethat makes them more likely to commit crimes. The America`s criminaljustice system has been the biggest supporter of the notion that theblacks are predisposed to committing more crimes compared to theirwhites counterparts. Consequently, over the last few decades, thepolice have taken the initiative of stopping, searching, andarresting the blacks more often compared to other races. Numerousstudies have confirmed that African Americans are more likely to bestopped, searched, and arrested compared to any other racial groupsin America. It is expected that the high rates of stops and arrestswill be reflected in the incarceration rates(Peery, 2012).As such, as long as the Americans do not accept that racism stillexists, social movements such as Black Lives Matter will continue toemerge.
TheSuccess of the
TheBLM has experienced some level of success even if it has been inexistence for only two years. The movement began as a small rebellionin the suburbs of St. Louis. A few months later, it spread throughoutthe entire country exploding like a wildfire. Between2014 and 2015, the Black Lives Matter movement had organized over 900demonstrations(Buechler, 2016). The success achieved by the movement can beattributed to several factors. First, the movement’s slogan “BlackLives Matter” expresses so much using only a few words.Additionally, for the two years the movement has been in existence,it has eluded the control of the ruling establishment (Khury, 2016).Up to date, neither the Democrats nor the police has managed to stopthe movement. On this note, both the local governments and the policeseem powerless as they have been forced to watch as demonstratorsdisrupt business and transportation in their jurisdictions withoutdoing or saying anything. Besides, in a matter of weeks since itsinception, the movement managed to reignite the entire nationalconversation on racism. Few months after its formation, almost everypart of the country witnessed protests organized by supporters ofBlack Lives Matter. The movement has even managed to win the supportof some of the whites. However, according to Khury (2016), theexclusion of the other minority groups such as the Hispanics maytrigger the decline of the Black Lives Matter. This is because otherminority groups in the country may be prompted to form theirmovements instead of joining the Black Lives Matter.
Inconclusion, the black movement emerged following the exoneration of apolice officer who was charged for the death of Michael Brown. Withina few months since the killing of Michael Brown, the Black LivesMatter managed to achieve nation-wide support and recognition. Eventhough the Black Lives Matter movement began like other grassrootssocial movement, it has achieved an unimaginable success for the fewyears it has been in existence. The success of the movement can beattributed to its use of social media to decentralize leadership andmobilize grassroots protest whenever the need arise. Globally, manypeople can identify with Black Lives Matter since they see it as amodern way for fighting for the freedoms and rights of theunderprivileged. Although the movement enjoys global support, it hasbeen criticized by some Americans who argue that it is not necessaryfor the post-civil rights America. Also, there are people who arguethat the movement has devastating effects on the society,particularly because of its attack on the police. This paper hasdemonstrated that the BLM is set to grow until a point where theAmericans will admit that ignoring the fact that one’s race mattersdoes more harm than good.
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