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Social Movements in The Media: The Black Lives Matter

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The Black Lives Matter Global Network is a chapter-based, member-led organization with the mission of building local power and intervening in state- and vigilantes-inflicted violence against Black communities. Other things like racial profiling, police brutality and racial inequity in the United States have protested regularly against the killing of Black persons by the police and by broader public. It was formed on July 13, 2013 by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin in February 2012. Black Lives Matter became nationally renowned for their street demonstrations following the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014 and Eric Garner in New York City. Since the protests in Ferguson, people in the movement have demonstrated by police actions or in police custody against the killings of many other Afro-Americans. The 2016 U.S. presidential election involved Black Lives Matter activists in the summer of 2015. After then they expanded their project into a national network of over 30 local chapters between 2014 and 2016.

The social media protests are not confined to those who demand racial justice. Rather, Twitter is also a resource for conservative communities. Civil society may find its greatest expression online now more than ever before. It changed the race conversation after the 2008 election of Barack Obama. While many people celebrated the first Black President’s election, others claimed they were ‘average’ citizens and joined forces to ‘recover’ their country. Now in 2016 Twitter hashtags are used to support groups, like #MakeAmericaGreatAgain and Alternative Right. Established in 2006, Twitter has shown itself to be the ideal way of expressing these ‘average’ citizens. It has enhanced the coded idiom that characterizes the post-civil rights era race discourse, which was apparently ‘colorblind’ to criticize the electoral suppression and police violence investigation. This aims at protecting the status quo and justifying police actions. Violence targets may still be colorful people, but arms are not just physical but also virtual and discursive spaces.

The term ‘hashtag activism’ amplifies the words often overlooked by the media, but terms such as ‘slacktivism,’ ‘hashtavism’ and ‘clicktivism’ show that it discusses the legitimacy of the social movement. Some argue that Twitter does not necessarily promote political involvement with institutions that are established. This discussion could be the result of Americans understanding social movements. In contrast, European scholars view new social movements ‘less as common interest organizations and more as new forms of collective identity engaged in discursive struggles that transform not only the self-understanding, but also the legitimacy of the cultural codes and views they have received’. The social media is a critical part of this debate and creates a virtual space to challenge, reframe and register the representations of those who are victimized. Communities such as Black Lives Matter (BLM) challenge the legitimacy of a judicial system that has apparently been ‘colorblind.’ These communities also redefine social justice and give voice to those who identify as LGBTQ and/or are gender nonconforming and those who have been historically marginalized in traditional civil rights movements.

#BlackLivesMatter is used to promote the organization and plannation of protests against racial profileing and police brutality in the United States, and to build solidarity in different parts of the world, rather than to raise awareness about specific social problems or even to promote public discussions on race and social justice. For example, people took a micro of scheduled speakers to challenge the apathic college administrators, unresponsive politicians, and police force. They also used ‘policy of interruption’ in their own right to assert the power of their own vocal voice. In the present time, young people can seize a more participatory and non-mediated global voice from traditional institutions. Organizationally, this unrefereed access to one another distinguishes the youth of today from their Civil Rights era predecessors who relied on public spaces, newspapers, and television to transmit their practice of non-violent civil disobedience and disruption of commerce to a global audience. People use social media to “write back” to a situation. This expanded protest arsenal includes images as “voice.” Twitter users are challenging the way images are staged by mainstream media. By posting your selfies with hoodies to show they may be Trayvon, they show solidarity. Bonilla and Rosa argue: ‘While racialized young people can not contest in face-to-face interacting the significance attributed to their bodies (or prevent the murderous violence perpetrated by police against them) through their social media reinterpretations, they can restore their bodies in alternative ways. Through both text and image, users constitute themselves as political actors.

There is lots of criticism as well as support on the Black live matters on the media. Some portrayed as a movement of the people whereas some blame for worsening race relations in America. The rise of Black Lives Matter: Trying to break the cycle of violence and silence an article published on the CNN news on December 28, 2015 by Sara Sidner and Mallory Simon Reflects the how black live matters is fighting for the movement for the lives of people. It wouldn’t last, Critics said. It was a blip in the protest radar. Like Occupy Wall Street, it would fade away. Some people said it was bound to fail, especially when the infighting started, without a clear structure and no strong leader. However, it’s still rising — and polarizing.

We have access through social media to a large range of perpetuators, sometimes self-created. Virtual communities as well as traditional media are available on different Facebook pages of victims and their family members.

Presenting pictures by an Emmett Till, a murdered woman, who confronted Trayvon Martin with his hooded sweat shirt and drivers in the Black Media of that day who looked like a teenager, provides a whole new opportunity in which to speak about black men’s historical depictions.

The murders and the general failure on the part of the judiciary to secure convictions inspired users to post pictures of blacks with the hashtag #Gangrant BlacksKids, showing the tragic reality: black children, in a manner that would be the same as those killed by the murdered men, Jordan Davis (whose killers were ultimately retried and sentenced to life in jail without parole). The social media becomes more than just a conversation site when they juxtapose the images and put them in personal, family and home contexts. For the students and teachers, it can be a particularly vivid representation of what has been lost to see a young black man or woman in her graduation gown. Social media (and #blacklivesmatter) have become an analysis venue in which students can engage not only a wider political community but also see contemporary moments as part of major historical discussions.

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Social Movements In The Media: The Black Lives Matter. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from
“Social Movements In The Media: The Black Lives Matter.” GradesFixer, 18 Mar. 2021,
Social Movements In The Media: The Black Lives Matter. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 Jan. 2023].
Social Movements In The Media: The Black Lives Matter [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Mar 18 [cited 2023 Jan 26]. Available from:
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