A Review of Black Lives Matter, a Modern Social Movement in America

The prominence of the Black Lives Matter is a reform for social justice in America. There are many layers to the movement including and having to do with feminism, an ideological change, as well as a different psychology. It holds the future for social justice. It has been over a century since the formal end to American slavery, and decades since the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s, but social justice and an egalitarian society does not yet exist. But with the knowledge and teachings that can change that attitude, the movement will continue to grow and make the strides that are necessary to change the lives of the people who help make America.

Black Lives Matter: Beyond a Movement

“Black Lives Matter” is very well known and everyone has a ready association when hearing it. I have always found it most interesting that this movement has come with so much mockery. Mockery in the sense that for all the people that take it seriously and for the people who’s daily lives are effected, there are just as many people if not more who come with opposition. The opposition make other slogans (i.e. “All Lives Matter”, “Blue Lives Matter”, “White Lives Matter”, etc.) This makes a mockery of the issue (Yancy & Butler, 2015). They are saying, your issue is not a real one, get over it. And also saying, maybe you should think about us first, and how you are effecting our lives.

It is more than a movement at the end of the day, and this is because the more people do not take the issue seriously, the more Black lives are taken in horrible ways without a valid reason. Even then, a major problem of victim blaming occurs with every one of these cases and the “Blue Life” that matters, are able to get off scot-free and continue their life. So clearly the blue life matters, but what about the Black life that was taken by that blue life (Maclin, 1991)?

Why are some people given the right and privilege to decide who gets to live? Of course, everyone is aware of the answers to these hypothetical questions I present. The power of the hierarchy of society and race is deep rooted inside all of us (Maclin, 1991). And it does not seem to change, it makes strives toward changes, but it does not change like it should. It is constantly the same story day after day, decade after decade, and at this point, century after century. The big question now, asks everyone what they are able to do for their country. The minority population and the African-American population create America and they are just as much of the country as any other ethnicity.

“We completely expect those who benefit directly and improperly from white supremacy to try to erase our existence.” (Garza, 2014). I like the usage of the word, improperly, in this article. The author is addressing the movement from the perspective as a Black queer woman. The word fits perfectly into defining so much of society. It is improper, how the current social situation is so prominent today. Roughly 50 years ago was the Civil Rights Movement, that is in the lifetime of many people alive today and yet it does not concern so many that the same issues are here today. The distribution of power and right to life has been given to a select few. Not even given, but taken by a select few, who have and continue to refuse to give it up (Garza, 2014). The right to life, it essentially has been taken from the those who are not white males- the normal (Garza, 2014). And Black lives are given the least regard to their life.

Black Lives Matter also serves as an ideology. It even perhaps serves better to be categorized as an ideology. It is an ideology that brought a uniformity to the anger and frustration with the obvious social injustices occurring (Thomas, 2004). Especially, after the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin and the verdict that allowed the killer, George Zimmerman to go back home. After the ruling, the anger and sparked outrage of the Black community, made people worry for Zimmerman. It made the white community worry for their own lives. This truly is irony at its finest (Yancy & Butler, 2015). It is more than a misunderstanding of the point.

It was disregarded, that this verdict justified the killing of completely innocent Black lives. But rather than worrying about the people who cannot walk down a street, without having to worry about being killed. And their families who have to deal with the death of a loved one and then watch as their killer went free. But then be told that it does not matter. And justify it with, ‘all lives matter’ (Yancy & Butler, 2015).

Through my research, I noticed there are typically two different types of papers written on this topic: either from a perspective looking at the whole or from the perspective of a Black woman. I find this very interesting, there are multiple struggles going on through this entire movement and ideological change. But there is the other issue of Black feminism that also needs addressing. I find it both compelling and significant that Black women both support the greater picture with their fellow man, but also separate themselves because they are different and need something else (Thomas, 2004). Black women are similar to Black men in some ways and similar to white women in some ways, but are different from both of them- they cannot completely identify with either one, in order to find further justice (Thomas, 2004).

I have always considered myself a feminist, but unfortunately not until more recently did I know that there are actually different types of feminism and feminists struggles. There is white feminism and there is also Black feminism and Hipic feminism (which can be grouped together and separately as well). White women argue for some basic rights such as equal pay and respect to work outside of the home. Whereas minority women fight for even more basic rights than that, such as getting hired for a job (Thomas, 2004). They are not just asking for equal pay in a salary job, but for their job applications to not be thrown away for a minimum wage job because of their name. But just like in all feminism, it is important to give people who believe and I support the feminist struggle, to separate themselves from the people who do not (Garza, 2014). This is because until there is true equality, the people who support it are different, and the difference raises attention.

But, looking at the bigger picture, white feminism is the issue that is raising attention and not so much of the feminist struggle of minorities (Garza, 2014). The ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement creates a new foundation in psychology. Psychology is in part the study of behavior. But the psychology most people study, leave people out, large groups of people are left out (Thomas, 2004). One of these groups is the Black community and even further is Black women (Thomas, 2004).

The issues are established, many people are ignorant of it or they chose to ignore it, but knowledge serves as a powerful tool. Social justice starts from the ground up. The racial institution that America exemplifies all so much prevents Black Americans from accomplishing the ‘American dream’. The Black community is stereotypically living in poverty, living in ‘ghettos’, and cannot get jobs. They are blamed for their own issues, as they deserve what they are getting out of life (García & Sharif, 2015). But rather than realizing that it is the racism of America that is keeping any minority and especially the Black community from going anywhere (García & Sharif, 2015). Many Black Americans have made great accomplishments, but not only are they ignored and not taught about, but are made to seem as exceptions. Successful Black people are not like the normal Black person, they lucked out or they were given some special situation that allowed them to accomplish anything.

There is a deep rooted problem even with the Black community, that is given from within. They are told they are hated by society and therefore they should see problems with themselves, too (García & Sharif, 2015). No one who is not living outside of the white standard should be proud of themselves, in fact they need to take it one step farther and be ashamed of themselves. Not only ashamed of their own appearance, but be afraid to accomplish anything (García & Sharif, 2015). Everyone is held up against the white standard, not only in physical beauty, but also with development and academic development and progress. If a Black person is more successful than a white person in academics, then there must be some sort of mistake.

There has to be another reason for this, perhaps something is wrong with the Black student. This is just one of the many ways social injustice is justified with society. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy with Black children (and even throughout their lives). They are told they are problems within the classroom and if they accomplish more than a white student, it is not because they are smart. It is probably because they are too hyper or they are not listening to directions. When a person is told they are not good enough, then they will not be good enough (García & Sharif, 2015). A person is just as good as other people tell them they are, because they take on the role they are told that they have.

Black Lives Matter is a “mode of address” (Yancy & Butler, 2015). It is against society telling that an entire group of people that every other life is above yours. So as long as anyone who is not Black is dying, then Black lives and the unjust loss of, can be addressed later (or in other words, never) (Yancy & Butler, 2015). Black men and women, even boys and girls, are seen and portrayed by society and police as scary, dangerous, aggressive, and violent. Constantly, the testimonies of these murder cases will reveal the cop’s description of the victim as forceful or aggressive (Yancy & Butler, 2015).

When watching the videos, it is clear this just is not true. But also there is an issue of the cop’s word and racist mindsets, makes people see the video through a lens. It is quite evident that it does not matter how a Black person presents themselves because they are never good enough. The stress, discouragement, outrage, depression, etc., etc. resulting from racism and hate acts, is detrimental to the health of the Black community (García & Sharif, 2015).

The growing importance of social media is resulting in a large part of ‘Black Lives Matter’. Not only education, but the usage of social media, I think, will only continue to help the movement toward social justice. What is so amazing about social media is that it is accessible to people all across the country and even the world, within seconds. It does not take more than a few minutes for the entire world to see the video of a horrible killing of another Black life. Or the ruling in yet another unjustified ruling letting go another cop who killed an unarmed Black man or woman.

The videos are hard to watch. And making it even better, once they are on the internet they do not ever really go away. What is so important in a movement, ideology, psychology such as Black lives matter is that the people who have died do not go forgotten. It is crucial that their names are known, giving them a life. Once they are identified and their story is told under ‘young black man’, etc., their story goes with all the other people who are said to not matter. We must be able to see the totally egalitarian society, we must be able to see the possibility of in order for it to ever have a true chance. This movement starts, to say this is done, and we need this- NOW. And we have to listen and respond and see the future as such to move forward successfully.

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