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Protest movements have sprung difficult conversations in order to create social change, and the impact social media has made on these topics has allowed conversations to be talked about in new ways. Since the shooting and killing of Black teenager Trayvon Martin by police officer George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, led to an unforgettable movement that sparked viewers’ attention from all over the U.S. The protest hashtag #BlackLivesMatter amplified critiques of the killing of Black Americans. In response to #BlackLivesMatter a counter-protest created by an opposing group created #AllLivesMatter that argues that there should be equal attention presented to all lives. #AllLivesMatter hashtag facilitated opposition between #BlackLivesMatter and created tension between Black protesters and law enforcement. The Black Lives Matter movement has grown, exhibit attention, and avoids negativity on social media while other groups create counterarguments like the #AllLivesMatter movement.
The #BlackLivesMatter hashtag has grown to represent a massive social movement in the U.S. The movement was started by three women, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi after the death of Trayvon Martin. The movement was a “call to action” to speak out on the shameful, historical legacy of American racism and White supremacy. It is a tool where you can reimagine a world where black people are free to exist and live a free lifestyle. However, until November 2014 when white police officer Darren Wilson was not charged for shooting and killing Micheal Brown. Since then, the hashtag has been used to highlight the deaths of other Black Americans such as #EricGarner, #FreddieGray, and #SandraBland.
The #AllLivesMatter movement is blind to the approach of racial issues. President Obama spoke on this debate and said, “I think that the reason that the organizers used the phrase Black Lives Matter was not that they were suggesting that no one else’s lives matter… rather what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that is happening in the African American community that’s not happening in other communities.” President Obama refers to police brutality, the killing of unarmed black people, and speaks a little on unjustified imprisonment of African American of minor offenses. Thus, those who support #AllLivesMatter do not understand the importance of race in the discussion of Black deaths in police-involved shootings. Also, many African American critics made notice that there is a “disproportionate number of prisoners of color in this country” which they think is due to “the racially discriminatory practices within the legal law enforcement systems.” For reasons like this using the phrase, #AllLivesMatter does not relate to the same levels of dehumanization and violence that black people go through.
The #BlackLivesMatter has found itself a counter-protest hashtag which is #AllLivesMatter. #AllLivesMatter believes that equal attention should be given to all lives while #BlackLivesMatter supporters disagree that it defames from the meaning of the Black Lives Matter movement. President Trump states, “Black Lives Matter is a divisive term and that the term is inherently racist.” In a 2015 poll, 78% of American voters said that the statement All Lives Matter was much closer to their own point of view that Black Lives Matter was. While 11% said that Black Lives Matter was closer, another example of the use of the hashtag #AllLivesMatter or the #HimToo movement is from a White boy named Pieter Hanson who has been a victim of false sexual assault accusation. He believes that he too should matter and should be looked at as important just like everybody else.
One of the most talked about criticisms of Black Lives Matters is based on the fact that it is a leaderless movement. Although, Black Lives Matter say that they are a “leader-full movement, “with many leaders from different grass-roots organization working independently.” It is this problem that makes it seem like Black Lives Matter seems disorganized. Due to this, it makes them look bad, and it was holding them back from delivering their message. Without a definite leader, anyone is capable of claiming that title and develop their interpretations of what Black lives matter is. Therefore, it leaves the message unclear, and it cannot be looked at as a serious movement. Some people question Black Lives Matter and may ask: Who is the leader of it? What is it about? What are their goals? These are the most relevant questions most people ask. Also, without an appealing spokesman like Malcolm X or Martin Luther King, it is quite difficult to attract others to their cause. Also, a movement leader like King himself has deficiently helped gather a large crowd in support of his cause.
Although the Black Lives Matter movement is leaderless, there are many leaders in that movement. There are several local leaders including Black Youth Project 100, the Dream Defenders, the Organization for Struggle, Hands Up United, Millennial Activists United, and the Black Lives Matter national network. They demonstrate that their movement is much larger than just one person. Their movement is to be spoken from local leaders that want to achieve the same goal as the original creators of the movements. What is the issue with having multiple people share there incite on the same topic?
Another misconception is that the Black Lives Matter movement is solely for protest. Initially, the movement was created to fight unjust or racial police shootings. One step they put in place was surveillance and more accountability for officers who abuse their power or break the law. However, since then the Black Lives Matter demands have become disorganized and fell outside of realism. When the Black Lives Matter made their agenda public, the majority of what they were asking for was unclear. A list of their demands was decriminalization of prostitution, record expungement of all drug-related offenses, universal health care, free higher education, reparations, a more in-depth look at Black history in schools, and the end to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. All these policies fell out of what the Black Lives Matter movement was initially fighting for. This set of demands makes them seem unrealistic and cannot be taken seriously.
Even though, the demands may seem a bit out of hand it is all for a useful purpose. The people and organization with agendas and goals have produced detailed policy demands and proposals for reforms. For example, Campaign Zero outlines a list of policy proposals that focus on ending police brutality. It tries to address the obvious and deadly symptoms of systemic racism. The Movement for Black Lives advances a platform covering six areas of domestic policy reforms that include economic justice, inequitable investment education, and health care.
Another critical aspect of their agenda is the demand for compensation for Black people while ignoring other oppressed groups who are entitled to this as well. They want free education and other federally funded support for Black students and institutions. While wanted this for one race misses the mark for the message that Martin Luther King was trying to convey. A situation today is on the campus of California State University. It is a system that created Black student housing which sounds like a call for separation. Unfortunately, it is embraced by the Black Lives Matter movement, and it needs to end. The Black Lives Matter has done well in some, but without significant changes to the movement’s structure it will never accomplish a long-lasting change. Also, from the disorganization from the movement will slowly begin to fade unless they make a change fast.
However, as a whole, they are more than that, and they can fix their mistakes to continue their movement. For one there has to be someone that stands against racist actions. There has to be someone that creates a bridge to help close the gap of different races. The historic civil right leaders created brilliant strategies that leaders today can feed off of and help grow. It is also important to remember their strong commitment to the Black community and recognize that there only enemy was inequality. While lastly, coming together and learning how to live as a family while living up to Martin Luther King’s dream.
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