Black Lives Matter is one of the recent and significant social movements in America that emerged after the wake of increasing public awareness of crimes against African Americans. Media outlets, including social media, have depicted examples of law enforcement officers increasing hostility against black men. Their hyper-surveillance of black and brown youths has resulted in creating a general distrust in marginalized communities (Statement on Ferguson Sociologists for Justice). This distrust further disrupts the relationship between the police and the community. Many African Americans live in fear of being intimidated by the police.
The murder of George Floyd is one such example of the violent crimes committed against African Americans by law enforcement. One could use the convergence theory to describe the Black Lives Matter movement. According to convergence theory, motivations arise within the individual and later spread to the crowd (Hammond et al.). The crowd provides a channel through which they could relieve their frustration (Hammond et al.). It would be difficult for an individual to bring a change, but it becomes easier for marginalized people in society to come together for a common cause. The protesters are collectively frustrated about the injustices they face in their everyday lives. They desire change and social progress. They need their rights to be recognized. For this purpose, institutionalized racism must be uprooted. Thus, African Americans and other like-minded people must unite to fight against racial injustice in the United States.
Protests are undoubtedly an effective effort to achieve social change, but they lose effectiveness if they escalate to violence. Imagine the case of the Black Lives Matter protests that emerged in the wake of George Floyds murder. Right-wing politicians claimed that protesters engaged in violence such as setting fires (Corley). Although in some cases these incidents and the surrounding commentary are largely misinformation, it must be noted that when protests become violent riots, it eventually compromises the very integrity and underlying values that the movement embraces.
The dominant class could see the violence and destruction as a reason to push their propagandist agenda further. Protests increase the visibility of the issue. George Floyds murder has brought to light the systemic inequality embedded within American society to an international level. If it were not for the Black Lives Matter movement, the world would not have become aware of one of Americas longstanding social issues. In different countries, people have taken down symbols that represented colonialism and racial injustice. For instance, in Belgium, protesters sabotaged the statues of Belgian King Leopold II, who killed Congolese people (Lankes). Similarly, in the UK, demonstrators took down Edward Colstons statue (Lankes). Colston is claimed to be a slave trader during the 17th century (Lankes).
These expressions of anger and agitation stem from the inequality that persists in America. Still, it came to light because of George Floyds murder and the subsequent Black Lives Matter movement and the large number of protests that followed. Therefore, the protests cannot be dismissed as mere expressions of the groups anger. Through the channel, the marginalized group calls out the government, criticizing its failure to introduce reforms. Through these vocal protests, the marginalized group pushes the government for reforms and measures to avoid future incidents of racial injustice.
Corley, Cheryl. Black Lives Matter Fights Disinformation to Keep the Movement Strong. NPR.org, 25 May 2021, www.npr.org/2021/05/25/999841030/black-lives-matter-fights-disinformation-to-keep-the-movement-strong.
Hammond, Ron, et al. Introduction of Sociology. 2020, www.freesociologybooks.com. Accessed 4 Sept. 2021.
Lankes, Catherine. How George Floyds Death Reignited a Worldwide Movement | DW | 07.03.2021. DW.COM, 7 Mar. 2021, www.dw.com/en/how-george-floyds-death-reignited-a-worldwide-movement/a-56781938.
Statement on Ferguson Sociologists for Justice. Sociologists for Justice, 2014, sociologistsforjustice.org/public-statement/. Accessed 4 Sept. 2021.
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