Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a decentralized non-profit making movement that seeks to engage society with the situations of violence and injustice that black people have been suffering in the US for thousands of years.
Despite it started in 2013 after Trayvon Martin was killed, the recent events triggered by the public murder of George Floyd in hands of the police on May 25, 2020, took the movement to a new level, reaching areas where it had never been before.
George Perry Floyd Jr. was an African American man who had been arrested presumably for passing a counterfeit $20 bill in Minneapolis. While being under police custody on the street, the white officer Derek Chauvin knelt his neck for 8:46 minutes to death. What they didn’t know was that a witness was recording the crime with his mobile phone creating a video that went viral in a matter of minutes, not only throughout the country but also the world
The video was so evident and revealing that it generated outrage throughout the population. The response was sustained and widespread as never before. Demonstrations occurred in all 50 states and DC of the United States even in predominantly white cities and rural communities.
The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter came to be used 17,000 times a day in all kinds of platforms like Instagram and Twitter, but also the fun ones like TikTok. Even celebrities supported the cause online under the hashtag #ShareTheMic. This time it was different, the BLM movement was becoming globally relevant and more racially diverse. Thousands of white protesters as well as multi-ethnical protesters stood next to black activists.
The breeding ground
Several times in the history of the US, African American citizens have suffered from violence and injustice from the state because of their skin color. Cases like Eric Garner and Michael Brown had also received mass media attention. However, Floyd’s was extreme and global, perhaps due to the context that created the breeding ground to make this explosion.
First, there was a video that made the crime very obvious and grotesque. It happened in the Covid-19 pandemic scenario with high levels of unemployment and popular dissatisfaction with the government’s poor reaction and hundreds of thousands of death due to the infection.
Also, George Floyd’s murder was the third of a series of three in a row: Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old man was shot on 23 February in Georgia after a burglary suspect, while Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old health worker was shot eight times by the police in her flat in Kentucky.
Black Lives Matter (BLM) Mission and vision statements
Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a global humanitarian organization that is present in the US, UK, and Canada. It promotes all kinds of initiatives aiming to include the black people in society, educate and empower them about their rights and make the daily injustices that they go through visible.
Its mission is to Eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on black communities by the state and vigilantes.
Components of the mission statements:
Eradicate white supremacy: It means that they fight to end with the racist belief that white people are superior or better than the rest of the races justifying dominance over them.
Build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on black communities: By different actions and initiatives, they seek to create awareness among societies about the injustices that the black population goes through in everyday life. In addition to the programs that they hold, they have gained a high level of visibility among social networks and the online universe.
By the state and vigilantes: Besides violence and racism is commonplace in the US, BLM is dedicated to unmasking the systemic violence against innocent black people. This includes working for the unearth of anti-black state violence and calling relevant authorities’ attention to act properly.
Black Lives Matter’s vision is to work for a world where black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise. This means that in the long term, their goal is to change the world and gain respect for black people so they stop being killed due to their skin color. In other words, they seek to end with racist violence.
Initiatives and programs
BLM seeks to combat and counter acts of violence and at the same time, “create space for black imagination and innovation” to win improvements in the lives of black people. They fight to their rights but also work to improve their quality of life.
Specifically, they carry out two programs:
- Black Lives Matter Arts+Culture seeks to uplift emerging black artists who speak up for the most marginalized among the community through artistic expression and engagement. It seeks to educate communities on the intersection of culture, art, and politics. “We will empower our communities, change the landscape, and inspire new realities”, they claim.
- Black Futures Month is an event celebrated annually in February together with the Black History Month. The goal is to challenge society and construct a world where black people are free.
The Black Lives Matter was created in the context of the historical legacy of the systemic mistreatment of black people. They have been suffering from violence and injustice from the police, criminal justice, and social institutions generally in America.
This movement has appeared as a reflection and a reaction to that legacy. There are dozens of organizations fighting for the civil rights of the black population in the US but BLM has gained unprecedented visibility due to the last events. They have created a powerful message and took advantage of social networks to spread it all around the world.
Black Lives Matter; About; available online at: https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/
ANDERSON, Monica; 08/15/2016; The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter emerges: Social activism on Twitter; available online at: https://pewrsr.ch/30dRP9D
CUNNINGHAM, Michael; Jan/2017; Police, Violence, and data: The Black Lives Matter Movement; available online at: https://bit.ly/3fg1T6u
DW video; #BlackLivesMatter: A campaign goes viral; available online at: https://bit.ly/316vL00
MAQBOOL, Aleem; 07/10/2020; BBC News; Black Lives Matter: From social media post to global movement; available online at: https://bbc.in/3gudyQB