Black Lives Matter Movement
Black Lives Matter was initiated as a movement that spearheads the battle against the colorblind racism in America. Its main objective was to end racial harassment and ensure equal treatment for all in the American society. According to Siscoe, Black Lives Matter Movement is destined to rival the social movements that began and left unfinished in the 1960s due to its size, scope and depth” (19). In essence, it is a reinvention and continuation of the Civil Rights Movement of the previous century making it among the most significant social movement of this generation. Initially, the case of Trayvon Martin who was stalked and killed by a racist vigilante George Zimmerman in 2012 at Sanford, Florida kick-started a movement what is today referred to as Black Lives Matter in a bid to end such rampant occurrences. The Black Lives Matter Movement has successfully changed the perspective of African American community and the society on colorblind racism through a series of civil disobedience, legal challenges and protests.
First, the Black Lives Matter Movement has raised awareness among the African Americans on the existence of racist prejudice against the minority groups. Contrary to some of the opinions the Black Lives Matter Movement does not aim at elevating the lives of African American above other lives, instead, it is raising awareness on issues that unreasonably affect the African Americans (Siscoe 19). For instance, the concern of systemic violence against the African Americans by private citizens and police in the recent past has been greatly highlighted by this movement. The killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012, for example, and consequent acquittal of the killer George Zimmerman was a testament that the black community was facing racial prejudice that needed to be addressed (Petersen-Smith 1). The black lives matter movement became the type of social movement that targeted this type of racism through awareness creation. Initially, the civil rights movement had shifted from operating at the grassroots level and focus on the legal representation of the black community distancing itself from communities (Siscoe 22). The black lives matter movement became the right movement to elicit empathy for the African Americans, educate the community about the deep-rooted institutional oppression and spearhead policy changes that would ensure the community had equal opportunities and safe as everyone else. In essence, it has successfully reformed black activism by encouraging the community to fight the society to value all black lives in all situations.
Second, the Black Lives Matter Movement has elevated the adoption of high profile protest in African American communities as the means to fight for equal rights. Initially, the social movements were geared towards assisting individuals who would elicit community sympathy. However, the movement has successfully changed the perspective of the black community about that. The movement does not only spearhead the notion that black lives matter but all black lives do matter (Siscoe 19). As an inclusive social movement, it has brought together the people who were left behind by the rights movement of the past. For example, high profile protests have been staged in universities across the country in a bid to highlight the oppression of the African Americans. Such universities include the University of Missouri and Yale University who staged high profile protests against racial insensitivity and discrimination (Harvey 14). These protests led to changes in both universities a validation of the impact it has had on the black community (Edward). Moreover, these high profile protests highlight the shift in the mentality of the upcoming generation of black activists. The broad scope of the movement is another proof of its power and influence on the African Americans younger generation. High profile protests witnessed in major American cities including solidary rallies in communities with few black residents show the influence has been far greater than reported. For instance, 11-year-old white girl organised a solidary rally in Westford, Massachusetts on January 7, 2015 (Petersen-Smith 2). These events indicate that despite the black activists being the driving force of the movement, they have been able to convince multiracial communities to the cause. There have been widespread protests in schools and colleges organized by black activists from elementary to college campuses which have attracted multiracial participants indicating the shift in perspective about racism.
Third, the Black Lives Matter Movement has successfully reinvented the African American politics. Even though some would assume that pop culture movements fade easily, there have been lasting and consistent effects of the movement on the African American politics. The movement, for instance, heavily influenced the 2016 presidential campaigns. Bernie Sanders rose in popularity among the millennials because he closely resonated with the movement (Sawyer 3). Moreover, several young people and women at the forefront of the movement have been instrumental in shaping social justice campaigns. In essence, they have realised that any meaningful change in African American communities and the society, in general, will only be possible through political actions.
Fourth, the Black Lives Matter Movement has ensured change in racial attitudes and that the American society demands equality using civil disobedience, policy change and legal challenges. These factors have greatly influenced the changes in the American society. In the past and present, the movement has embraced the use of civil disobedience to gain attention across the media, political scene and the society (Sawyer 9). The different platforms have ensured they interrupt lives of people and solicit attention so as the society to acknowledge that problems exist. Once sufficient attention from the public has been solicited, the movements then proceed with legal challenges and new laws that effect change in the society (Siscoe 19). Although some may argue that the movement causes discomfort and disruption, it is their strategy. In response, the racist forces have begun mobilizing own strategies that have caused polarization and radicalization. However, the black lives matter movement has successfully used disruption to gain attention and be heard to effect numerous changes.
Finally, movements have their successes and challenges, and it would be difficult to precisely predict the future of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Nonetheless, it is apparent that the changes in the African American community and the society will be sustained for a longer time. It has the potential to consistently pierce the shortcomings in ideas of a post-racial America and highlight the consistent patterns of racism. Also, the movement is likely to highlight the inability of the traditional black activism to respond to community problems such as police brutality by working closely with poor communities, those without adequate representation and providing legal representation in the justice system (Thompson and Thurston 117). In essence, the change in the future would include the production of a new and vibrant layer of African American activists who are more prepared and equipped to combat racism more effectively.
In conclusion, there has been increased awareness among the African American communities due to sustained efforts of the Black Lives Matter Movement. The movement has also elevated the adoption of high profile protest in African American communities as the means to fight for equal rights. Also, it has successfully reinvented the African American politics by shaping social justice campaigns. Through civil disobedience, policy change and legal challenges the movement has ensured a change in racial attitudes in the society. Although the future of the movement cannot be precisely predicted, sustained success since its inception is an indication that its future would be successfully steered by a young and effective group of African American activists.
Edward, Roz. “Black Lives Matter Less When It Comes To The Race Of Protesters.” The Chicago Defender, 16 Mar. 2018, chicagodefender.com/2018/02/26/black-lives-matter-less-when-it-comes-to-the-race-of-protesters/. Accessed 9 Apr. 2018.
Harvey, Emily. “The Impact of Black Lives Matter on Black College Students.” Thesis Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of George Mason University, 2015.
Petersen-Smith, Khury. “Black Lives Matter: A new movement takes shape.” Issue #108 | International Socialist Review, 2015, isreview.org/issue/96/black-lives-matter. Accessed 10 Apr. 2018.
Sawyer, Jeremy. “Implicit and Explicit Racial Attitudes Changed During Black Lives Matter.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2018, p. 014616721875745.
Siscoe, Tanika. “#BlackLivesMatter: This Generation?s Civil Rights Movement.” University Honors Theses, 2016, pp. 1-27.
Thompson, Debra, and Chloe Thurston. “American Political Development in the Era of Black Lives Matter.” Politics, Groups, and Identities, vol. 6, no. 1, 2018, pp. 116-119.