Monday, September 7, 2015

#BlackLivesMatter: An Agent of Positive Change

Perhaps one the best, modern, examples of a social movement would be "#BlackLivesMatter."
A term bred from Twitter, "#BlackLivesMatter" is the popular online movement, aimed at bridging the gap between minority communities and the government.

As the movement gained its footing online, controversy soon followed: many argue that the movement is exclusive, perhaps even reversely racist against Caucasians.

While I personally disagree with this conclusion, many continuously lambaste the movement as biased. Such objections led to a counter movement, known as "#AllLivesMatter." Supposedly, this trend was meant to equalize all ethnicity in one fell swoop of egalitarian righteousness. However, this movement faltered compared to its much more widely accepted counterpart.

But why?

The continued, if not growing, success of "#BlackLivesMatter" can be traced back to the outrage of the minority groups who began it. With racial tensions reaching boiling points (i.e. Ferguson riots, the trial of George Zimmerman, etc...), African-American communities were further solidified by their collective outrage over the blatant pardons of racially motivated attacks perpetrated by, mainly, white law enforcement officers. However, as outrage gained momentum overtime--unfortunately often the result of other slayings--the moniker was born and subsequently propelled by the hope of its supporters. This hope, as Castells describes, "projects behavior into the future." In essence, the dream that minority persecution would cease to exist in the United States propelled the social movement.

Oppositely, "#AllLivesMatter" hasn't relished nearly the same affects as its partner because it lacks the same outrage. "#AllLivesMatter" is rooted in too abstract of an idea--a Utopian society where all men are truly equal--with little to no basis in contemporary issues. "#BlackLivesMatter" had the brutal killings of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and countless others to spur anger and moral outrage whereas "#AllLivesMatter" was born from a sense of juvenile exclusion and hurt--not genuine upset; therefore, it lacked agency from its conception.

"#BlackLivesMatter" is a beautiful example of networking meeting social movements in these technologically saturated times. From this movement, a greater understanding of what it means to be a minority in America has helped lessen the racial divide between some communities and others. More white Americans understand the difference between being a Caucasian pulled over by a police officer and a Hispanic male. More people see what it's like to be followed around a convenience store because the owner assumes you'll steal if you are anyone other than a white male or female. There's a wider knowledge of the acts of racist aggression against minorities by those in positions of power, perhaps more than any other time in modern history.

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