The group 'Black Lives Matter' started as an international activist movement that aimed at campaigning against violence and racism toward black people in 2013. The group 'Black Lives Matter' started after an African-American was shot dead by George Zimmerman who was a White American on February 26, 2012 (Gitlin, 2019). Things escalated after Zimmerman was acquitted for all charges against him where the court argued that there was no adequate evidence against Zimmerman's charges and that Zimmerman acted in self-defense.
This negatively affected the Black community since the victim was a high school student with no weapon at the time of the altercation (Gitlin, 2019). This led to mass protests across the United States calling for Zimmerman's arrest and eventfully the development of the Black Lives Matter group. This movement became more widely known in 2014 after police officers killed two more African-American men.
This group demonstrated on the streets since the police officers were not charged for these crimes. This group was started by Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors and has now grown to a global movement that protests against violence on Black communities by the government or vigilantes (Rickford, 2016).
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One of the reasons that has contributed to the growth of this group is the targeting of Blacks where the group supports and encourages Black communities in their resilience against oppression and injustices. In the fight for injustices against the black communities, this group has also another goal which is to support the development of Black leaders and empower Black people (Rickford, 2016). These efforts have enabled Black leaders to rise up and represent the Black communities which is important in addressing inequality.
What This Group Aims To Change
This group aims at addressing racial discrimination and state injustices that started in the colonial periods after Africans were brought into the Western nations as slaves. Africans intermarried with the White Americans leading to the African-American community (Lindsey, 2019). However, this community continued to face oppression which led to several demonstrations in the history of the Black community.
The group that had started as a hash tag on Twitter evolved into a movement in August 2015 which saw more than 1000 demonstrations across the world (Lindsey, 2019). This group has continued to hold protests to speak out against police brutality and killings of African-Americans and racial inequality in the United States' criminal justice system where Black people are denied justice. This group also aims at fighting for human rights and a reordering of the society where Black lives are free from the dehumanization activities as witnessed in the African-American history (Lindsey, 2019).
One main area of focus is a change of the United States justice system that has been unfair to Black communities starting from the police department up to the court system. Police have been captured many times harassing and shooting individuals from the Black community which is different from how they handle individuals from the White communities (Merrill & Voices for Equality, 2016).
Since White Americans hold most of the leadership positions, this group aims at changing this perception by supporting Black leaders who will help in fighting for their rights and equality within the American nation. This is because racism has continued to be witnessed regardless of the efforts of many racial groups in the African-American history. This problem has negative effects on Black communities (Merrill & Voices for Equality, 2016). Due to the group's efforts, several Black individuals have been elected to public offices.
Theories/Concepts That the Group Is Utilizing
One of the theories being utilized by this group is the Generalist model that provides a seven-step guidance to solve social problems within a community. With the Black communities facing a problem of racial discrimination and oppression, this group highlights the consequences of this aspect to the community and call for action for perpetrators (Greene-Hayes & James, 2017).
Since there is a gap between the dominant White Americans and the African-Americans, the first step of applying this theory that this group utilizes is building a relationship with the dominant population where the group calls for understanding of some of the problems that they are undergoing. The group also provides a suitable intervention to help resolve this problem and prevent a re-emergence of this problem that has been common in the United States (Greene-Hayes & James, 2017).
A concept that is utilized by this group is the use of demonstrations that involve showing proof or examples to highlight their problems to the public. Demonstrations involve public gatherings or groupings to protest against a specific problem that is of a major concern (Ransby, 2018). During this process, the group's opinion is highlighted promoting the viewpoint regarding the specific problem.
This creates awareness of the underlying problem that many people may not be aware of an aspect that may lead to a growth of the problem (Ransby, 2018). However, a demonstration alerts everyone including the justice system of the expectations of the community. This will enable the accused entity to develop measures to prevent a further reoccurrence of the problem through effective decisions. By amplifying anti-Black racism, this group raises awareness of injustices that continue to occur across the world negatively affecting black communities (Ransby, 2018).
Success of the Group
The group has been successful which is evident in the growth of the group's network across the world where more Black individuals continue showing up for demonstrations to fight for injustices and oppression against Black communities (Waxman, 2020). The evidence that the group is still fighting for revolution throughout the country is an indication of the group's tolerance to fight for change.
With traditional fight for freedom involving physical demonstrations, this group has integrated the use of technology and social media in carrying out online protests that are able to reach the responsible parties to take appropriate action (Waxman, 2020). After five years since the development of this group, there is adequate evidence of the milestones achieved by the Black community attributed to the group's efforts.
This group has had an impact on the political, legal, and social systems where significant changes have been witnessed at local and national levels (Jackson, 2019). One of these is the ousting of high profile prosecutors who had previously failed to charge police officers accused of committing serious crimes such as shooting and killing innocent people. Another change attributed to the Black Lives Matter group that can be highlighted as one of the successful achievements is the resignation of the president of the Missouri University after he failed to address racism in the campus (Jackson, 2019).
There are also changes in the police department that was highlighted as the main center of injustice where police officers harassed and oppressed individuals from the Black community. These accomplishments and the success of initiatives that focus on fighting for the freedom of Black lives indicate the achievement of the group's main objectives (Jackson, 2019).
- Gitlin, M. (2019). Black lives matter. New York, NY: Greenhaven Publishing.
- Greene-Hayes, A., & James, J. (2017). Cracking the Codes of Black Power Struggles: Hacking, Hacked, and Black Lives Matter. Black Scholar, 47(3), 68–78.
- Jackson, E. R. (2019). Black Lives Matter: Culturally Sustaining, Responsive, and Relevant Pedagogy in Higher Education. Journal of Pan African Studies, 12(9), 1–3.
- Lindsey, L. (2019). Black Lives Matter: Grace P. Campbell and Claudia Jones-An analysis of the Negro Question, Self-Determination, Black Belt Thesis. Journal of Pan African Studies, 12(9), 110–143.
- Merrill, M. C., & Voices for Equality. (2016). Why black lives matter (too): A revolutionary call to action. Bloomington, IN: Authorhouse.
- Ransby, B. (2018). Making all Black lives matter: Reimagining freedom in the twenty-first century. Oakland, California University of California Press.
- Rickford, R. (2016). Black Lives Matter. New Labor Forum (Sage Publications Inc.), 25(1), 34–42. https://doi.org/10.1177/1095796015620171
- Waxman, O. B. (2020). How Black Lives Matter Is Changing Black History Month. TIME Magazine, 195(6), 14–15.
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