From PA Times article Three Reasons Why Black Lives Matter is Fueling A Revolution
Discussions about race in America are often difficult—not because of the historic insult, the lasting legacy or continuing oppression—but because many question whether any or all of these exist. Acknowledging that slavery happened is easy. However, some find the notion that 151 years later the residual effects still linger is a far stretch of the imagination. In much the same way, it is difficult for some to believe that 52 years after the Civil Rights Act, blacks still suffer a degree of subjugation within American society. Wherever you fall on the issue, you must acknowledge that artists, social media and politics are forcing us to think continuously about race and the experiences of blacks in America.
First, artists and athletes are becoming more vocal in bringing attention to Black issues.
Recently, the nation watched as two prominent entertainers took their messages to prime time audiences. Beyoncé’s performance of “Formation” at the NFL’s Super Bowl 50 brought attention to the Black Lives Matter movement through powerful imagery portrayed by black women sporting berets and Afros, while making a tribute to Malcolm X. A few days later, Kendrick Lamar performed several of his hit songs from his Grammy winning album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” clad in chains while band members played their instruments from mock jail cells. The next day NFL football star Robert Griffin, III played tribute to Lamar with a tweeted picture of himself working out in chains. Under #KendrickMadeMeDoIt, Robert Griffin, III tweeted “Embrace your roots! Pick up your chains today and break free!” His choice of words along with a picture of himself struggling to move heavy chains contributed to a powerful image of the struggle of blacks in American society.
Second, social media is a powerful platform to fuel discussions about race.
In recent years, we have seen events unfold in the media only to fade into somewhat obscurity. But that hasn’t happened with the Black Lives Matter movement due in part to the use of social media. The movement’s ability to continual spark conversation around a singular topic has been interesting to witness. Although the intense debate between black lives and all lives misses the point, it continues to fuel the discussion.
Social media sites are platforms for speaking out and reacting in real-time. Twitter has proven to be a powerful medium for the exchange of conscious raising information. According to Pew Research Center, 96 percent of black Internet users between 18 and 29 use social networking sites. While only 16 percent of white Internet users are on Twitter, 22 percent of black Internet users are on Twitter. For good or for worse, social media has the ability to rapidly infuse messages into the subconscious of the American psyche. How those messages are used to shape the future remain to be seen.
Third, presidential candidates are looking for black voters.
Recognizing the power of black and Hispanic voters in Obama’s success, Democratic Party candidates are working diligently to secure endorsements from key supporters and voters. The Sanders campaign has Symone Sanders, a Black Lives Matter activist, serving as press secretary. The Clinton campaign has secured the endorsement of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Although Republicans may have a genuine concern, black issues seem to be lost in the grand scheme of things. As I see it, the issue of race will become more prominent when the contrast between the two parties becomes more evident.
In thinking about the future of American society, I can’t help but to wonder: how long blacks will be relegated to a sort of second-class citizenship status where they must continually fight for equality of opportunity? However, I am optimist in this regard. If the concerns about conditions affecting blacks continue to play out in the media, by artists and athletes, in social media and on the campaign trail, then there is hope. Hope of creating an America where people are not burdened by the color of their skin, but are proud of their heritage as they seek a future in a society that is fair and just.
It is time for us to realize that at some point an oppressed people become conscious and understand that at some point oppressed people revolt. It is our responsibility to guide and shape a revolution to improve the conditions and lives of blacks in America.
I think “Black Lives Matter” is a vital movement right now, and always has been. I see it often in protesting in my home town, on NFL football games during the National Anthem, and just in everyday life. I think this has always been an issue that needs discussing and improvement. Saying “Black Lives Matter” is true. However, isn’t it obvious that they do. Furthermore, when someone states the obvious over and over does it not become annoying even if true and very important. Perhaps taking the movement one step further towards finding and enacting possible solutions to the race discrepancy and inequality is the next step. I think this would be more effective instead of just gathering and protesting. As a white man in America I feel a bit attacked and made to feel like the bad guy even though I give every individual their fair chance at being seen as a unique special individual. I do not feel is is quite fair to make all white man in general the bad people that are always wrong all of the time. Growing up in Oakland, being an actual white minority in my grade school by Fruitvale, I was smacked with racism directed and enacted on me often. I think it is a common misconception that these days, and in the past, only white people act or judge of off race alone. The way we treat people is a two way street. Overall, I think America is headed in the right direction. After all, I think we would all agree, that we have come a long way. I think that to reach the place here everyone feels comfortable all of the time will take a sustained amount of energy and persistence to reach that point of true equality. I believe professors like Dr. Littleton and Ms. Williams are creating a positive impact by being positive role models of Black Women of Power in America and enlightening their students. Unfortunately, contributions to society by African Americans seem to be to rare, few and far between on a day to day basis in our Country today. My honest opinion, if it can be handled, is that the overall reputation of the average Black American needs to be improved upon. It is a slow process, but as long as White Americans and Black Americans, and Mexican Americans are contentiously and consciously are making a true effort to accept and be judgement free we will be good, and everything will be copacetic in the end. I know the situation is not where we all want it to be now, but if we keep striving for equality and treat all individuals with a fair chance every time, no matter what race you are or they are, then we will be closer and closer to equality. I believe the relief of equality in America will only hit us when we least expect it.
Thanks for your comment. I just had a conversation with my nephew in which I actually had to defend BLM. I was relentless, now he gets it.
I know this post is now a bit dated, but it brings about a good point, and one that I think a lot of people don’t realize: we can make such a big change if we just change the platform we send our messages through. It’s extremely easy to ignore an article in a newspaper or magazine about an unsavory topic that we don’t want to read. But we’re all on social media, all day every day. You know exactly who and what is trending and why; there is an opportunity to express opinions and spark change if we start using the platforms that are more popular in our society. I’ve seen much more debate, and general conversation, about the Black Lives Matter movement ever since it hit the social media stage. It’s much easier to start a dialogue about important topics, and actually receive a response back, on a platform that everyone uses. Yes, at times it can feel overwhelming, like one opinion is much bigger than another, and if you don’t completely agree on every note, you’ll be the new outcast. But here’s the thing: no one ever made any real change without making a splash.
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Melissa, Thanks for your comment. You are correct. Reminds me of quote by Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” You gotta start somewhere.
The movement Black Lives Matter has grown significantly over the past few years and I do believe it a result of the new platform being used. Celebrities, Famous Athletes, Influential people, etc are now more seemingly using their platform in addressing issues that some people are too scared to bring to the table. I think it is very important for these social issues to be heard. What really stood out to me was the idea that we have a responsibility to guide and shape a revolution. I see many young people like myself finally taking a stance and proving those who doubted us wrong. There has now been more rallies and protest taking a stance on equality and showing others what is right and wrong. In the future, I hope to see more of this, maybe then more people will join the cause.
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This article brought happiness to my heart as I remembered when I actually watched the grammys where Kendrick Lamar was performing. I have ALWAYS loved him and even more after he shown how much of an activist he is to the black life matters movement. I knew that sooner or later, he was going to perform something where all of us can watch and learn. The black life matters movement is something that indeed has created a lot of emotions to a lot of us. It makes me happy to see how many of us are going out of their way to support the movement all though we might not have african american decent. It’s sort of like “damn pal, thanks for having my back bud!” Social media is part of our everyday life and we should use it in our favor to create social change. It’s such a powerful tool now a days, its (literally) life changing.
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