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Memes have shifted their role from entertaining viewers to passing on critical messages to the viewer about something or someone. They have become popular in the recent past following continuous evolution of technology particularly social media technology. They dominate the news headlines especially on the social media platform with the purpose of informing, influencing, supporting, or persuading. Since the evolution of the Black Lives Matter in 2013, the use of memes either supporting the course of the BLM or against its ideologies has surfaced the social media channels. Whether meant to support or to distort the movement, the reality is that there are milliards of BLM memes online each carrying a specific message and report. The BLM is a legitimate movement that fights for criminal justice as well as demanding end of extra-judicial and criminalization of the people of color. The purpose of this essay will discuss the use and relevance of social media memes related to the Black Lives Matter movement. In particular, at least five memes will be used in this analysis. Memes have been crucial tools of communication for and against the BLM movement. They have been used to alter, communicate, support or distort message and image of the BLM movement.
Memes have been used to show the support of the ideologies and course of the BLM movement. There are people especially those who come from the white man community that believes in the ideologies of the movement and have on several occasions indicated their support to the actions and demand of the movement. In the above meme, the main message is showing the support for the BLM movement. In other words, the meme is meant to encourage the BLM supporters to carry on with their activities because they have the support of a section of the white people who also believe in what there are doing. This meme seems to have been written by a white person who accepts that there are unacceptable issues in the criminal justice especially in the police force units and the court system that needs to be addressed as demanded by the black people for justice to prevail. The meme is meant to give hope and emotional support to the black people who are enduring great pain in the hands of the police and criminal justice system. As mentioned earlier, memes are used to show support, inform or influence the perception of people on something or someone. The purpose of the above meme is to inform the BLM that they are not alone in their demand for justice as well as showing support of their action.
The meme is likely to incite the BLM supporter to carry on or do more demonstrations upon realization their messages and cries have been heard and accepted in some section of the white man community. Another impact the meme is that it will make people who never believed in the ideologies of the BLM possibly change their perception about the movement and consider supporting it where possible. The meme is likely to draw more support from the Whites people who have been silenced for not seeing more whites march on BLM protests. Also, the meme is likely to awaken and ignite support from the backs and other communities upon seeing that even whites are for BLM. The Blacks will be convinced that with whites starting to show up in the BLM marching protests, it means that the movement is likely to achieve its objectives.
The meme appears to have been prepared by the BLM members with an objective of informing the haters and the entire public as well as the world who they are and what they stand for. The meme seems to have been created when the movement started receiving criticism that it is orchestrating racial disunity. The meme is affirming the public and its supporters that it is not viewed as a civil right movement but as a movement whose objective is to cause disunity, a racial war, and enmity between whites and blacks. Through the meme, the BLM is letting the public know its objective and why they demonstrate and protest as they do. In other words, the meme is communicating the purpose of the movement. It says “we trying to end a race war but not trying to start one.” The expectation is that through this meme, those against it will have to understand the movement by knowing its purpose and objective. It is important to note that the BLM movement has had not only support but also opposition from people who are against its ideologies. There has been an argument that the movement is orchestrating the racial division in the country especially between the blacks and whites. Indeed, it has been accused of profiling the whites as racists and brutal. Others have said that the movement is starting a race war between the whites and people African origin who claims that justice has never been on their side. By going on the street and demonstrating for their rights and justice, the movement is trying to end what it calls the ‘race war.’ The way the situation has been between the two communities, it is obvious that there is a race war that needs to be ended. The police officers have repeatedly been caught harassing and torturing the blacks on crime allegations while the blacks on the other have consistently leveled a stiff online and street campaign to object such conducts by police and entire criminal justice system.
The meme is likely to persuade some people to change their opinion and perception about the BLM movement. There is a group of people who are not sure about the purpose of the movement and are likely to believe the rumors that BLM is a causing racial division. Upon seeing the meme, these people are likely to shift their opinion and see the justified purpose of BLM.
The meme is showing a crowded street. It is showing millions of black people and sympathizers of the BLM movement barricading the road. The meme has two messages. The first message can be decoded from the actions of the protesters who are expressing their anger by barricading the road and shops and hurting the business in the entire place as they demand justice and equality. The creator of the meme communicates the other message on the meme. The person behind the Meme is supposedly an anti-BLM and seems agitated by the actions of the movement to the extent of proposing possibilities of bombing the protesters. From the Meme, it is clear that there is a section of Americans, particularly the whites who do not care about the lives of the Blacks and would do anything to hurt them even more. The suggestion ‘we box everyone in and drop a fucking bomb on it,’ indicates the level of hatred between some whites and blacks. It also shows the realities of claims that have been raised by BLM movement for years. Note that the BLM movement has been contesting for equality and fair treatment of the blacks under the law as well as ending racial discrimination. The message by the meme’s creator indicates racial enmity and rivalry is a reality in America. To some whites, Black lives mean nothing and can do anything to get them out of the way. Although it would be unfair to judge the whites based on the meme, because it is expressing the opinion of one person, the person clearly shows or tells what exist on the ground.
The meme is likely to steer rivalry between blacks and whites. The American society is likely to see more uprising against and for the Black Lives Matter movement. The Pro-BLMs are likely to stage more demonstrations and call upon the attention of the public to support their demand because it is clear their future and space in America is threatened. The support for the movement by those who believe in racial justice and equality of all races will is likely to grow. At the same time, the movement is likely to lose the support of the people affected by its action. For example, the business owners who fail to make sales or those who lose their products during the demonstrations are likely not to support the movement and possibly call for its crackdown in the business areas. Another effect of the meme is widening the gap between whites and blacks. With blacks seeing the suggestions or proposed solutions to deal with their demands, there are chances of losing trusts with blacks and stick to the street democracies to demand their rights. The memes are likely to attract international support for the movement. In the first place, the demands of the meme are inhuman and against the rule of law. There are possibilities that BLM will attract international support because the meme is just communicating the hidden realities on the ground.
The next meme is sending a very strong message to the BLM supporters and movement. While the core message of the BLM movement is that the lives of the blacks also matters, this meme intends to let the BLM supporters know that even the police lives matter just like those of the blacks. The Police have been accused of killing blacks as well as subjecting them to injustices including the selective application of justice. The creator of the meme wants to divert the attention of the public from seeing the black people as suffering in the hands of the police to showing that also police are not safe when dealing with blacks. In other words, there seems to be competition between the police and BLM supporters and sympathizers. It is no longer about the blacks alone but also the Police. A detailed analysis would suggest that black Americans are also a threat to the lives and safety of police officers in their line of duty. It could mean that police act to defend themselves from the actions of the blacks. The irony behind the meme is the use of an image of a black man holding a flyer and an American flag. The blacks have occasionally said that their space in America is threatened and no longer feels the pride of being Americans because of how they are treated. However, seeing one of them with a flyer would contradict their statement and demand for justice. The bottom line of the meme core message is that the lives of the police also matters just those of the blacks.
The meme is likely to have a double impact on the BLM movement. The first impact is the possible emergence of another movement fighting for the rights of the police who feel threatened when arresting the blacks. The movement might become irrelevant because the attention is not being shifted to another direction which could suggest that the issues outlined by the movement are untrue and not based on facts. It is also likely to cause division between the BLM supporters and ultimately a failure in their course. The success of the BLM depends on the unity of the blacks to work together and move forward as a team and speaking the same message. However, with this meme, the attitude and perception the general public might be having about the BLM is likely to change. In the end, the public is going to see the BLM as not being united or not sure about its course and objective. There are possibilities that the meme was generated by an anti-BLM supporter(s) who wanted to show that even black people acknowledge they are never smooth with police. Although the meme may not successfully distort the message of the BLM, it poses serious threats to its future.
The meme has a political message. It attempts to show how the BLM movement influenced Clinton’s campaign particularly her message about racial justice. The BLM took advantage of Clinton’s earlier utterances and remarks about the people of color, to demand her apologies which ended up costing her politically. In 1996, she called the Black American ‘super predators ‘without conscience or empathy that need to be brought to heel’, which came to be a major stumbling block for her 2016 presidential bid. The BLM supporters used those statements not only to demand her apology but to let their followers know that she (Clinton) did not mean well for the Afro-Americans. The BLM is not a political movement, but it works closely with politicians and political parties who tend to resonate with their grievances and demands. This meme was prepared to show the impact of Black Lives Matter on Hillary Clinton’s political campaign during the 2016 presidential election. The meme shows that BLM was not in support of Clinton’s presidential bid in 2016 elections because it was clear she had never cared for the blacks before as quoted from her earlier public statements. During this time, Clinton tended to identify with blacks for their political support. The meme shows that the blacks were not ready to support Clinton because she was concerned about their votes and not their lives.
The meme has several effects on the public opinion of BLM as a ‘human right movement.’ First, it shows that BLM is a powerful movement that is likely to influence political campaign and agendas of presidential candidates. As captured in the essay, BLM influenced the political messages of Hillary Clinton on matter racial justice. Also, the movement sends a strong message that is ready to work with right-minded persons and political leaders. One of the reasons why the people of color did not support Clinton’s campaign fully is because of her earlier utterance about the black people. The second impact is portraying the BLM as a realistic and focused movement ready to work with people who can be trusted and those who are consistent with their statement. The supposed withdrawal of support from Hillary Clinton as suggested by the meme shows that BLM is not ready to work with people who have a doubtable attachment with the Afro-Americans. Clinton does not have a good reputation with blacks following her earlier comments, and it was suggested that she was only concerned about the votes and not lives of the blacks. Lastly, with the growing popularity of the movement, the politicians are likely to label BLM as a threat to their political agendas and would not support its course. Without political support, the movement cannot go far.
This essay has analyzed the messages and effects of various memes related to Black Lives Matter. The purpose of the memes as seen in the analyses is to persuade, show support, inform, or redirect the attention of people from one thing to another. Since its establishment in 2013, BLM has seen different memes used for or against it on several occasions.
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