Racism has been a hot topic of discussion in today’s world, especially in the United States of America. The progression and an increase in African American discrimination along racial lines since the dark ages of American history up to date sets a base for a discussion about the blacks’ lives. However, the significance of Black Lives Matter Movement calls for justification in its context from its very beginning. The movement backed by civil rights groups and the blacks was meant to bring a change in social, economic, and political life. However, on contrary, some critiques term the movement as violent and separatist. An example of such movement in the history of America is the 1887 to 1940 Universal Negro Improvement Association. However, according to the late Malcolm views, the blacks’ power organizations are not viable because they show surrender to the whites’ supremacy. However, is the Blacks Lives Matter Movement relevant? This paper will explain the impact of “Blacks Live Matter Movement” by looking at various aspects like how and why it was formed, its impact on voter turnout, and if the movement can lead to policy reforms.
Keywords: black lives, discrimination, movement, protest.
Black Lives Matter Movement
The discrimination and killings of the black Americans in the United States have been causing endless debate among different fractions across the world. For a couple of years, the black Americans have been calling the government and other agencies to address various issues which impact them, like police brutality, lack of fairness in the judicial system, and other aspects concerning racism. Because of little or lack of action from the authorities, the black Americans started a movement known as “Black lives matter” aimed at campaigning against violence and discrimination of the black community members. “The issue of racism can not end until something is done” (Katz, 2016, p. 123). Katz (2016) views racism as an issue which can end but only if proper actions are taken. Although different prevention and intervention measures have been taken to address the “black lives matter” (BLM) issue, ensuring equality in the judicial systems and preventing police brutality are the most effective ways of preventing the black Americans from feeling they are discriminated.
The BLM movement was initiated in 2012 after increased killings of innocent Black Americans through unlawful police actions. According to Camp and Heartherton (2016), the movement was initiated to call for attention concerning various issues affecting the black people. Some of these aspects include police brutality, racial profiling, and the racial inequality in the US judicial systems. Following the release of George Zimmerman in the shooting of the African-American teen Trayvon Martin in 2013, the BLM movement initiated the hashtag “black lives matters” on Twitter. The reason for this hashtag was to protest the court’s decision of declaring Officer George Zimmerman not guilty of shooting down an unarmed Black American teen Trayvon Martin. This was after a release of the video showing the actual events that took place.
When a video, showing the unlawful killings Michel Brown and Eric Garner in 2014 emerged, various protests took place in different cities, including in Ferguson and New York City. Milstein (2015) found that the random emergence of protests in different cities indicated the BLM movement had a scattered form of the leadership, and therefore called for worldwide support on the subject in question. Since its inception, this movement has also been criticized by various people, including some black civil right leaders. Some people term this movement as anti-police, and questions the data provided by its activists concerning the rate at which the police killed the black Americans. There are also questions concerning if the black lives are the only ones that matter or matter more than white lives.
The movement has also been asked on their primary focus since in most cases the BLM just focuses on one issue and entirely ignores other harsh realities. Critics have also found fault in the protest tactics the members use. Some of these tactics include the blocking and delaying of traffic, for that reason causing a delay in potential emergency response time (Ross, 2015). For this reasons, the critiques’ advocate for peaceful protests that promote the mutual existence of both the whites and the blacks as human beings that deserve justice and respect, regardless of their race.
Taylor (2016) found that the supporters of this movement consist of about 43% of the population, the biggest group being the black American citizens. This indicates that most of its advocates are the black Americans. Amongst the supporters, at least 64% do not fully understand the movement’s goals and another 36% do not know the goals at all. This may be a result of ignorance or lack of proper information due to the wide spreading of myths and misconceptions.
The supporters claim that peaceful protesting tactics are used during their Campaigns and BLM should not be termed as Anti-police because the police officers contribute in discriminating the black people. The advocates of this movement call for democracy for everyone, where people will enjoy equal rights as well as equal say According to the supporters, the justice system should hold every wrongdoer accountable for their actions regardless of race, power, and authority.
According to De la Torre (2016), 43% of the BLM movement’s supporters consist of the Black American communities who feel that their community has been discriminated against in various aspects. As such, the movement has the potential to affect black voter turnout. For example, in a situation where presidential candidate Campaigns for the demands of the BLM movement, black voters turn out in high numbers to vote for such a candidate. “Some people do not vote because a particular candidate has demonstrated to be a good leader. They vote because the candidate belongs to a particular ethnic group” (Katz, 2016, p. 567). Over the last elections, cases of many people turning out in large numbers to support one of their members to attain a political seat have been witnessed. A good example is during Obama’s re-election where black voters turned out in high numbers to vote for a black president.
Lazerow et al. (2014) argue that it is highly improbable that solutions to end issues related to racial conflicts which plague modern society will be found soon. This is because the issue was present many years ago and it is still witnessed. For example, during the recent elections, the black community voter turnout was the highest on the democratic side because of supporting the issues presented by this movement. According to Musgrove (2016), people should vote for the purpose of change and not for the selfish interests of small groups. This means the white and black communities should vote for the best leaders and not for the candidates who belong to their group.
According to Mandell (2016), a leader who supports the grievances of a certain ethnic group gets full support from that group. The BLM movement has made efforts to assert themselves in the political process by using protests. The members believe this strategy is better than voting since protests will ensure long-term positive change. Musgrove (2016) argues that electing a leader because they support or do not support issues affecting a particular ethnic group is a temporary solution since the president is re-elected after the completion of their term of service. From the various incidents where the black people turn out in large numbers to support a leader from their group or one who supports their views, it is clear that BLM movement is capable in of influencing voter turnout.
The BLM movement can lead to police reform because it stemmed from police brutality against black people and does not seem to end without proper actions being taken. Another reason why this movement might lead to police reforms is because one of its primary objectives is to ensure police reforms are implemented. “It is the responsibility of the government to ensure police officers enforces the law without discrimination” (Taylor, 2016, p. 90). This shows that the black people are not ready to end the movement until something is done to ensure all police officers undertake their duties with equality. The best way of addressing the BLM issues is to undertake police reforms because they are the main reason why the movement began.
According to Mandell and Chen (2016), police reforms assist in improving the national reputation, equality and professionalism among the police officers. This means the BLM might continue campaigning for the police reforms to be undertaken to attain equality. Calling and insisting for reforms ensure police officers who are found guilty are accountable of their misconduct might be the only way of making the black Americans feel that they are appreciated, and also the best strategy of doing away with the issues associated with the protests.
In conclusion, the BLM movement does not only demand for equality and justice but also raises questions of widespread misconduct and its consequences on the lives of American citizens. To realize the motivation and the core issues that lie behind the black movements, the members, and the leadership should first ensure that all organizations are all-inclusive, representing every race to avoid the issue of racism. The members should be encouraged to uphold peace and prevent police confrontations. Therefore, the Black Lives Matter Movement will be relevant if and only if it is democratic, non-violent, and organized.
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