Literature Review: Black Lives Matter

Our main focus in this class is the study of social issues, social problems, and social movements from a sociological perspective. We examine how the changing nature of particular social issues seen as social problems, and analyze and understand how they are constructed in different ways in certain social and economic contexts and times. The focal point of my social movement is the Black Lives Matter Global Network.

According to the “Black Lives Matter” website, this movement is a chapter-based, member-led organization whose mission is to build local power and to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. Throughout society, we see major issues of the African American race being oppressed and mistreated. This African American originating movement helps campaign against violence and methodical racism regarding black individuals.

On July 13, 2013, this reform movement, or a movement seeking to change one key aspect across the entire society, such as ending racism or racially integrating schools/ public services, was created. Fabricated by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi- “created a Black-centered political will and movement building project called #BlackLivesMatter. It was in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman” (BLM, Herstory).

In 2014, Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson was responsible for the murder of Mike Brown. Due to the murder of Brown, it was only right for this organization to come together and provide support for the courageous community of Ferguson and St. Louis as they were “brutalized by law enforcement, criticized by media, tear gassed, and pepper sprayed night after night” (BLM). On labor day, Darnell Moore and Patrisse Cullors organized a national ride during Labor Day weekend. Within the 15 day creation of “Black life Matters Ride,” they created a plan of action to head and occupy territory to support their brother and sisters. Over 600 gathered in support.

After the events, individuals in Ferguson inspired 18 organizations in different cities developing Black Lives Matter in their communities. The inspiration was able to widen the political will and movement building reach catalyzed by the #BlackLivesMatter project and the work on the ground in Ferguson. The Sole purpose this movement according to the BLM website, is to continue organizing and building Black power across the country, support the development of new Black leaders, as well as create a network where Black people feel empowered to determine our destinies in their communities. This social movement is still active till this day, fighting for black lives empowerment.

The main objective of Black Lives Matter movement again is to support African American communities, and campaign against violence and systematic racism towards black people. They want to uncomplicate the painless lives of African Americans, where their lifestyle is systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. “It is an affirmation of Black folks’ humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression” (BLM).

We wanna see change for the lives of the African Americans, who can no longer be oppressed by society. In A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement by Alicia Garza, “We completely expect those who benefit directly and improperly from White supremacy to try and erase our existence. We fight that every day. But when it happens amongst our allies, we are baffled, we are saddened, and we are engaged. And it’s time to have the political conversation about why that’s not okay” (Garza). Garza stresses this idea that it is an everyday struggle for a black individual to live in this society, which is harassed by the white supremacy. There needs to be changed for the African Americans and this is what this movement is fighting for. The over objective Black Lives Matter has supported the development of new black leaders, as well as create a network where black people feel empowered to determine their destinies on our communities.

Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, three black radical organizers created this project, which is now a member-led global network with more than 40 chapters. These members organize and build local power to arbitrate in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. This chapter based, or organization that has local branches in multiple areas which share one mission, the member-led organization is a collective group of liberators who believe in an inclusive and spacious movement. Their recruitment is a wide range of Black individuals, black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all black lives of any gender.

They believe that in order to succeed, they must bring as many people along the way in order to limit nationalism that is all too prevalent in Black communities. In order to build upon this foundation and this movement, they must bring everyone all together. In order to ignore the restriction to race, class, sexuality, and gender, it only involves more individuals, and the more individuals to partake in a project like this helps lead to its success. As stated on the website, “the call for Black lives to matter is rallying a cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation” (BLM, About).

Black Lives Matter is a social movement that fights for the oppression and suffering of African American individuals. Each social movement has a theoretical perspective which helps analyze movements broadly and ask a variety of questions about it at an individual, structural and or cultural level. With the Black Lives Matter movement, it would fall under a cultural level. Cultural theories integrate aspects of individuals into movement theories, for example, self-identity; relationship to movement frames. Cultural theories also consider belfies, perceptions, and collective identity importance.

This is why a movement like Black Lives Matter falls under this category because this movements emergence of this movement was due to the maltreatment to the African American race and culture. Black Lives Matter affirms that according to A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement by Alicia Garza, “When we say Black Lives Matter, we are talking about the ways in which Black people are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity. It is an acknowledgment Black poverty and genocide is state violence” (Garza, The Feminist Wire). This movement is not just restricted to masculine men, but are open to Black women who suffer from the assaults of their children, Black queer folks, suffering to live in a hetero-patriarchal society, and black individuals with disabilities harassed by the white supremacy are stated violence.

It is the black lives, that always seems to come to face these consequences of living in a black body and the violence that comes with it. Although this focuses on the life of the blacks, this movement is open to ALL human individuals that want to fight for the lives of the black individuals who struggle every day in our racial society. Anyone who wants to fight for black liberation. There is an emphasis in articles such as the main website of Black Lives Matter, that as a network they work to involve not only Black heterosexual, cisgender men. They have always recognized the need to center the leadership of woman and queer and trans people. With this, it can only make a movement stronger. To have all individuals being involved to fight for the liberation of all black individuals and maximize the overall movement strength.

By studying social issues, social problems and social movements from a sociological perspective, we are able to dive in deeper and analyze the sole purpose of each movement. We examine how the changing nature of particular social issues seen as social problems, and analyze and understand how they are constructed in different ways in certain social and economic contexts and times. With the focal point of my social movement of Black Lives Matter Global Network, we are able to explore reasonings of social constructionism, and the reasoning of the social movement as a whole.

With this, I am able to construct what the social problem is by evaluating the emergence, legitimation, mobilization, development, and implementation of the plan of Black Lives Matter movement. Throughout society, we see major issues of the African American race being oppressed and mistreated. This African American originating movement helps campaign against violence and methodical racism regarding black individuals, fighting for empowerment and black liberation.

Works Cited

  • Garza, Alicia. “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement by Alicia Garza.” The Feminist Wire, 12 July 2016, thefeministwire.com/2014/10/blacklivesmatter-2/.
  • Ng, Yvonne. “Community-Based Approaches to Archives From the Black Lives Matter Movement.” WITNESS Archiving, 30 June 2016, archiving.witness.org/2015/09/community-based-approaches-to-archives-from-the-black-lives-matter-movement/.
  • Khan-Cullors, Patrisse, et al. “Black Lives Matter, Herstory.” Herstory, 2013, blacklivesmatter.com/about/herstory/.

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