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Cultural Trauma in The Digital Age: BLM Movement

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Over the past few years, a gathering of more than 50 unions have united to create the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM). The intention of this movement was to have the dignity to stand up for equal rights. BLM is an ideological and political intervention in a world where the vast majority within black communities residing in the United States of America lives have been wrongfully harmed. In this essay, I will analyze the cultural trauma throughout black culture and reinforce ideas involving individuals who have experienced or witnessed racial discrimination. This essay will also share and link the importance of how digital media has helped acknowledge, change or strengthen the significance of the BLM movement.

In today’s world, technology has intertwined with many controversial topics revolving cultural trauma. One of the more powerful tools used to create a particular perspective and narrative in regard to the BLM movement is Twitter. However, it started as a hashtag on Twitter which has been used nearly 30 million times on this platform alone, averaging 17,003 times per day. Now it’s considered to be a national movement. Furthermore, individuals have had their own say using the platforms such as Twitter, which offers the devoted African-American community an opportunity for their own narratives and perspectives to be created and perceived by numerous of users.

Moreover, the image above explains why the black community has taken matters in their own hands to seek justice. In this day in age, seeking justice can be carried out in many forms of action. The film, on the other hand, has become an outlet which directors used to elaborate on the catastrophic events occurring within black communities. The BLM movement viewed this as a chance to spread their message with movie captions and scenes online in order to gain the respect and acknowledgment they deserve in regard to the mistreatment their communities have been challenged with. Furthermore, films such as Strong Island (2017), Get Out (2017) and the heart-wrenching Fruitvale Station (2013) also viewed this as an opportunity to strengthen the importance of black history whilst basing true stories to represent the pain the black community have withheld for countless of decades.

Following the acquittal of George Zimmerman for lethally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2013, members and activists of the American black community bought their anger to the streets to protest. Although, the killing of Trayvon led to 100 cities protesting for equality, in 2013 President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. is still not a “post-racial society”. Furthermore, digital media has changed the way certain people seek and understand the cultural trauma of African-American people due to the broader cultural impact of the BLM movement becoming immeasurably expansive throughout the U.S. alone. By using the tools constructed by social media, BLM was the first U.S. social movement in history to successfully use the internet as a mass mobilization device. The success of BLM is credible for being responsible of the recent successes of movements, such as #TimesUp #MeToo, and #NeverAgain.

Furthermore, the data above has documented the most used hashtags on Twitter with BLM on top of the list by a substantial margin. This statistic alone can explain the significance of BLM movement had on Twitter users. Surely, without digital media this conversation would be non-existence, however, the simple fact of being available to social media tools in order for discussions regarding equality is what the African-American community took advantage of. Alongside equality, these tools can be used to formulate ideas to help outsiders to better understand the severity of what this campaign obtains.

Moreover, the objective for this movement is comprised of affirmation and intervention, which supports the movement by directing and mirroring the work of counseling psychologists. However, BLM recognizes that black liberation endeavors must be stemmed from the historical and contemporary culture of Blackness and the hinged and embodied encounters of black individuals. With that being said, there is help for call which led the media to therapeutically comfort those who are distorted with police brutality and the demise of the black community. Due to digital media offers free and open-minded platforms such as Facebook chat groups, YouTube comment sections or Twitter’s subscription list, which is a list where people with the same perspectives can view each other’s timelines for moral support. These platforms are very beneficial as BLM supporters who have respect for diversity, identify with the international black community and their issues whilst helping to create spaces that affirm those black individuals who are disproportionately subjected to oppression. Alexander argues, when taking social responsibility for suffering, the chances of others developing empathy are plausible. Furthermore, this connection between the two can later help the black community to view the non-black community not as biased.

Typically speaking, the media has evolved in ways that narrating one’s opinion can do more harm than good. As television has always been aligned with law and order, producing shows that the mass audience have no control of. However, this shift from broadcast to digital networks has assembled new discourses around mediated trauma. This enables diverse sources of narrative, opinion and commentary to be documented against the state or law enforcement. This is evidently true, due to black media outlets failing African-Americans for nearly 100 years by not capturing true black narratives of the journey and story of their everyday lives and their culture. With that being said, black communities use the media to construct traumatic narratives about their own ethnicity rather than outsiders misconstruing their own stories. As explained, the representation of trauma depends on constructing a compelling structure of cultural classification. In other words, this means going through the perplexing process of transforming a published story by telling new one in order to convey the audience the real truth. In addition, it is no secret that television is the main reason why barriers of religion, race, citizenship, and geography separate our moral space. However, by good fortune, social media platforms are providing African-Americans with an opportunity to respond to negative stereotypes by offering them representational agency. Blogs such as “Erase Racism” and “Voices of Africa” aims to publicize stories which are rarely acknowledged nor shown on broader networks. The relevancy of these blogs reflects on how far the African-American ethnic group have come. Unfortunately, in the 20th century, newspapers such as Pittsburgh Couriers and Chicago Defender were the only newspapers known for their outstanding work to not only cover the unpleasant events such as crimes in the black community but to share the accomplishments of black entrepreneurs which distributed as the economic engine for black urbanization throughout the 20th century.

Thankfully, in most cases, with the advanced technology this generation possesses, the majority of the African-American community own mobile devices to record any malicious actions such as racial profiling enforced by police officers. This can later be posted on the digital web for media coverage in order for those responsible to be brought to justice.

However, in many cases filming such horrifying scenarios such as police brutality has its own disadvantages. Witnessing such traumatic event or events can lead to psychoanalytic thinking, where the suffering or affliction of an event makes them so fearful that they can possibly inhibit the experience of trauma itself. Moreover, digital media is also changing the kinds of communities that identify with the African American culture by empowering people globally to build communities, organize activities and make their voices heard on a multitude of issues such as the BLM movement. This can be practiced through online petitions and charities, where people across the cyber sphere can act on causes about which their passionate about. However, the power of digital media does not stop there. There is an undeniable association between social media and scaling which potentially mobilizes new activists for social justice. As scholars have noted, partially due to its “public sphere” nature, social media creates participation opportunities which involves uplifting the number of protesters or supporting fundraising campaigns that unify the African-Americans in groups that broaden mobilization, thus helping scale movement endeavors. For example, for a number of BLM groups, social media was listed as a tool for building direct, personal ties within the community of BLM activists. Multiple group administrators expressed their thoughts about the immense value of having other BLM group leaders online to discuss with about personal pros and cons as movement organizers. For them, social media served as a tool for mobilizing resources in the form of support networks. This allows BLM groups to feel closer as a whole, providing leaders of the groups to have the extra push or motivation to continue their purpose. As well as influencing others to help reduce or conclude this unfair scheme of violence and systemic racism towards black people in the U.S.

To conclude, the triumph of BLM will perpetually be recognized as the movement responsible for popularizing what has now successfully turned into an indispensable tool in 21st-century arranging efforts as scholars refer to as mediated mobilization. 

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Cultural Trauma In The Digital Age: BLM Movement. (2023, January 05). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 24, 2023, from
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