Black Americans’ extrajudicial killings triggered a hot debate on civil rights and racial profiling, leading to the formation of a movement called The Black Lives Matter. Several black- American activists made efforts to ensure the ongoing existence and massive scope of the action. They met with prominent leaders to catch the attention of governments and also held demonstrations to sensitize people on the objectives of the campaign. The Black lives Matter movement is a concern for the United States of America and nations worldwide. It has held over 700 demonstrations activities worldwide, such as highway marches, traffic blocking, making demands to meet prominent leaders, and defying malls. The events aim at bringing sustainable change by ending racism and upholding human rights. The movement considers the demonstration activities a disruptive process done with no thoughtful approaches to ensure that the issues are addressed seriously. The campaign also attempts to shift the focus of government laws towards its agendas to achieve the objectives of bringing change to the world successfully.
Black Lives Matter
Trayvon Martin, An unarmed black teenager, was shot dead by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, igniting a hot debate on civil rights and racial profiling when the defendant was acquitted, in July 2013, after the court decided that he had not committed an offense. The issue was so sensitive that black Americans chose to form a movement identified by the hashtag “#BlackLivesMatter”. The black-American activists who fueled the movement were Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi, and Alicia Cullors. However, the movement gained more popularity in 2014 with another black American, Michael Brown, being shot (Falcon 218). Since then, it has gained worldwide attention due to its ongoing existence and massive scope. The organizers and protesters have also met with prominent leaders, including President of the United States, Barack Obama. The objective of the movement is to bring an end to mass incarceration and police brutality of African-Americans. The campaign also demands that the United States of America police departments be militarized. However, there are additional cases that moved gain more momentum, such as that of John Crawford III and Eric Garner’s death, all in the year 2014. In Chicago, the campaign also had a protest about Freddie Gray’s death caused by a Baltimore police, with many Chicagoans participating in hundreds matching (Transformative Spaces).
Thesis statement: Following the death cases of several black Americans, Black Lives Matters movement emerged not only to hold demonstrations whenever an issue affecting black people occurred, but also to bring a sustainable change to the United States and other parts of the world by focusing the attention of laws towards ending racism and upholding human rights.
The Black Lives Matter Methods of Bringing Positive Change in the World
The Black Lives Matters Movement
Statistics show that the current number of Black Lives Matter chapters has reached 23 in Ghana, Canada, and the United States of America. As of March 2, 2015, there have been more than 700 demonstrations by “Black Lives Matter” worldwide. The most significant event is that of August 2014 during the Labor Day weekend (Prupis). The movement organized an activity known as ‘Freedom Ride’ that brought at least 500 blacks in the US into Ferguson, Missouri. Its supporters and members rode from New York City to more than 15 areas, including Washington DC and Chicago. The ‘Freedom Ride’ activity conducted was similar to the one that took place in the 1960s, where more than 20 movement members were arrested at Mall of America in Minnesota. The movement can be more linked to the case of Rekia Boyd. Her case involved Dante Servin, a Chicago police detective, firing shots on a mass at West Side Street. Despite the reckless act from the detective, he was only charged by involuntary manslaughter. However, the movement can also be linked with Chicago about the activities that took places, such as the Chicago Tribune, mechanical movement, and others. In Chicago, the campaign was dubbed in social media using the hashtag #ShutDownA14 (Editorial Board).
The Agenda of Black Lives Matter Movement
The list of the Black Lives Matter Chicago movement is not just to hold demonstrations whenever an issue occurs. It is a movement aimed at bringing a sustainable change in the United States and the world. To ensure that the demands and goals of the actions are achieved, it has engaged in demonstration activities. The activities involve highway marches, traffic blocking, making demands to meet prominent leaders, and defying American malls. One of the goals of the Black Lives Matter Chicago movement is to end racism. According to O’Donohue (In Common objections to the Black Lives Matter movement), it is “Racist institutions and people need to stop making things about race by treating people of color unfairly. Until they do, we should all point out their racism and criticize them for it” (Theorgernizertc). The movement aims to bring people of different races together and curb the division caused by racism. The other goal of the campaign is to uphold human rights. It emphasizes that all humans are equal and, therefore, have equal rights when it comes to life. The movement is opposed to any action that will make a certain group of humans feels inferior. It is out of the objective that the movement name is formed. The movement also aims to bring positive change by making the public concentrate on important things affecting their daily lives. Therefore, it views racism as nothing but an obstruction; “All this race stuff just divides us against the real problems like class and government abuses of power” (Theorgernizertc). The movement views racism as a divide and rule tactic used against the exploited population of working together to their common goal. It considers racism to be an element used to maintain the power of class and state. The movement also aims to ensure that both the right of the blacks and whites have been addressed since all of them matter. Also, it does not condemn only blacks’ extrajudicial killings, but all of it in general. The movement’s goal is to end police brutality regardless of the victim’s race.
Disruption Agenda as a Tool for the Movement
The movement activities are aimed to be done through disrupting the operations so that the problems can be addressed. It believes that change is a disruptive process and can only be understood in that manner. The movement argues that a thoughtful approach to situations is a means of failure since they are not seen as serious. The campaign aims to make the world a better place by ensuring that the laws formulated and implemented to treat humans as equals. It aims to see a country in which punishments will correspond to the offenses. The dream of the movement is to see a state where the poor citizens will not be jailed for cheap labor but for crimes they commit. It wants a country in which police involved in extrajudicial killings is punished accordingly. The movement has declared to break the law until all these issues can be addressed. The change in Chicago used the hashtag #ShutDownA14 to try and disrupt the activities that took place in the identified cities. They intended to shut down businesses, schools, and other institutions”Since January 1 , 2015 more than 90 unarmed civilians have been shot by police, according to the news release. On April 14, 2015, an unprecedented group of prominent voices of conscience will come together with relatives of the unarmed, shot down by police in a movement determined to STOP this assassination. “In Chicago the Black Lives Matter Movement has orchestrated a four-time train take-over. The fourth event had their Facebook page stating, “We gather to encourage the Chicagoans to confront the realities of police violence against the black and brown people” (Telesur).
All Humans are Equal
The Black Lives Matter movement’s objective is to make the United States of America and the whole world a home that humans feel equal. The feeling of equality should come regardless of ethnic grouping that one belongs to or the class. In Garza’s, one of the co-founders, own words, “…Malcolm talked about self-actualization, self-love, and being rooted in who we are unapologetic. When [Opal Tometi, Patrisse Cullors and I] created Black Lives Matter, it was about how we live in a world that dehumanizes us and is still human? The fight is not just being able to keep breathing. The fight is actually to walk down the street with your head held high—and feel like I belong here, or I deserve to be here, or I just have the right to have a level of dignity” (Smith).
The Voice of Change
The Black Lives Matter Chicago movement aimed at making the world a better place by addressing most of the societal problems. The campaign has managed a shift from the rights of workers to extrajudicial killings. The campaign tackles the issues depending on the ‘issue attention cycle’. The problems in the campaign are addressed one by one and when they occur. The process has made the world be a better place since, by the time all the problems that affect the societies’ day to day lives will be addressed (Prupis). The movement’s goal is to bring change to the world through a broadening of the issues that it tackles. For example, the act of bringing together racial justice and immigrant rights on the May Day rallies. The idea of broadening items helps the movement to gain more supporters, thus increases their bargaining power. It also saves time and reduces the costs and time taken to address specific issues in society. The movement through the broadening of affairs achieves one of its goals, uniting the people. Immigrants may be coming from different ethnic groups, and the introduction of a single action for all makes them join. Garza acknowledges the diversity of issues addressed by the movement. “Suddenly, as she puts it, we have begun to come across diverse variations to our work — all life matters, brown life matters, migrant life matters, women’s life matters, and on and off. While imitation is said to be the highest form of flattery, I was surprised when an organization called to ask if they could use “Black Lives Matter” in one of their campaigns” (Garza). Another example of the broadening of Black Lives Matter activities in Chicago includes the one dubbed “#JusticeForRekia” conducted on May 12, 2015 (Blackslivematter). In the event, the aim was to condemn the killing of Rekia Boyd and Dominique Frankline by police. The movement also conducted a panel discussion in Chicago known as “#Kick the Kickbacks”.
The Black Lives Matter’s Expression of Historic Dilemmas of Anti-Systematic Movement
The Agenda of Ending Historical Racism
Racism is an attitude and belief that some races are inferior compared to others. According to Wallerstein, the Black Lives Matter movement is more of a social change than the national movement (Wallerstein). The movement aim at ensuring that the blacks are treated as equals to the whites. The old alignment of the system has made the blacks not viewed as equals, but inferior to the whites. The blacks are seen as inferior beings and thus taken through all types of atrocities, including genocide. The movement expresses the failures of the systems in areas like Chicago. In the order of the United States of America system, blacks form the majority of the poor in society. Boggs argues that America has perfected racism about modernizing the vice. He claims that “Upon liberating the slaves, they were then separated as being inferior to the rest of the population, both in law and in reality, based on colour. With this crime the United States should hold a place equivalent only to that occupied by Hitler Germany for the atrocities it committed against the Jews in the annals of history “(Boggs). According to his argument, Boggs justifies why a movement such as The Black Lives Matter, is important. The systematic failure has made blacks engage in unlawful activities like selling drugs and killing out of hatred (Lindsey and Johnson 169). The offenses committed by most of the dark are a reaction to what the white society expects from them. Since the times of memorial, the blacks in the community often feel powerless, afraid, and resentful of their white counterparts. The fear concept explains why some of the blacks decide to run whenever they see white police. Rodriguez also emphasizes the fear by saying, “Americans live in a cavern of fear, a psychological and numbing force created by the so-called entertainment industry, reified by the psychological industry, and buttressed by the coercion industry (i.e., the courts, police, prisons, and the like)” (Rodriguez). The fear among blacks, when interacting with whites, may link to the slavery activities. Slavery made some blacks feel inferior and, therefore, relating the inferiority to all the acts against them. The Black Lives Matters movement is, therefore, a modern method of expressing the need to address the perception. The problems addressed by the action today can be linked to past historical situations. The rate of killing of black Americans in the United States can be compared with the one witnessed during the “Jim Crow era lynchings” (Kos). It is the violent policing that has made the blacks be the target and has made racism be a national crisis in the United States.
Unity Agenda; The Means to an End
All the ethnic groups in Chicago and America at large should come together to fight racism. At a given point, most of the races in the United States went through some aspect of racism. Despite some being voluntary or coaxed, the tracks were sidelined in the society. The first introduction of the Irish- Americans, Germans, Italians, Slavic, Jewish, Spanish, among other ethnic groups in America was characterized by discrimination. Therefore, it means that all of the ethnic groups at a given point were victims of circumstances. There is a need for all ethnic groups to come together and oppose the vice (Theorgernizertc). STL Socialist Coalition for Black Liberation supports this by saying, “We cannot truly say ‘Black Lives Matter’ if we’re not improving the material circumstances of America’s black and brown people, alongside fighting against police violence” (Prupis).
Racism as Unsolved Matter in the United States
Black Lives Matter Chicago communicates basic information that people should be treated equally despite ethnic groups. The Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson, third United States’ president, despite being a slaveholder, that all men are equal gave the real truth on how humans should treat one another. The fact that he pointed it out showed that he already knew it to be a problem of great magnitude. One would have described it as a time bomb during that era. Therefore, it shows that the racism problem is not born today, but has managed to go through generations. Garza describes racism acts as “a disease that has plagued America since its inception.” (Smith). Racism’s major challenge is Universalist beliefs, and the main problem for universalism “has been racist” (Wallerstein). The paradox, therefore, makes racism an ever ending practice in most parts of the world.
Agenda of Linking Black Lives Movement to other Activities
The Black Lives Matter Chicago movement also points out the historical anti-systemic movement by its engagement in May Day activities. May Day roots are linked to the Haymarket Affair that happened in Chicago the year 1886. May Day is remembered by the labor rights rally bombing in Haymarket Square. Several people lost their lives during the violent crackdown on the union members and workers (Prupis). The Black Lives Movement has conducted several of its activities on the May Day celebration dates. It has been involved in support of labor rights as was in the May Day event. The involvement of such activities has seen it gain popularity as it addresses several of the community problems.
The Black Lives Matter Speaks Local Manifestation of the Global Problem
Racism from Chicago High School Principle
In high school, racism is depicted when River Forest high school principal discriminated some of the students from joining the Black Lives Matter movement. Racism has led to a ridge even in the school activities; “Several white parents, none of whom would speak on the record, expressed confusion and dismay that their children were prevented from participating in a “Black Lives Matter” event February 27 that was limited to black students only” (Bibbs). Racism is a global problem that people do not want to talk about, and if they do, it is in silent voices. It is a generalized kind of thinking that if one white person is a racist, then all are. The issue of racism has grown to be a global problem with the black race members viewing their questions to be on their own and not on others. Therefore, it explains why some of the students were turned away during the planning of the Black Lives Matter movement. According to Bibbs, race causes some discontent in all gatherings, including institutions, as witnessed in Chicago Tribune (Bibbs). Most of the activities conducted are based on the track, which one belongs to, and discrimination. The community in its totality and even the institutions in them promote the vices like racism. Racism as a global problem is passed from generation to generation through the adults that help the clamp (Lindsey).
Chicago Police Play the “Sweet Home Alabama” and Monitors Cell Phones
The “Sweet Home Alabama” is a song by Lynyrd Skynyrd, which is commonly associated with segregationist policies in the southern part of U. S. The level of racism has gone a notch higher with the state officers not fearing coming forward as racist. The people expected to cub the vice are the same people that promote it. According to Coalition to Govern America, “Chicago police said they are investigating an incident caught on video during a weekend “Black Lives Matter” protest in which a police escort Car cranked “Sweet Home Alabama,” a song some perceived as a reference to the segregationist policies of the US South “(Coalition for Governing America). The fact is that not much effort is put in place to see that racism is stopped in the country. The late Dr. W. E. B Du Bois said, “A system cannot fail those it was meant to protect” (Prupis). From the Bois point of view, the solution to the problem is developing a system that addresses all people’s needs. One of the police in Chicago also hinted that they monitor the protesters’ cell phones (Handley). The police are, therefore, going against the human rights of privacy to counter-attack the protestors.
“Every 28 hours”
The Black Lives Matter is an expression of the global problem witnessed in the United States of America. Research findings by Malcolm X Grassroots Movement show that an “every 28 hours a black man, woman, or child is murdered by police or vigilante law enforcement” (Kos). The major problem that is witnessed in today’s world is a system that has failed to recognize some of the community problems. The system’s various problems are required, and they include official neglect, drugs, poverty, deindustrialization, law enforcement surveillance, oppression, and endemic racism. Racism is a great problem in the United States of America, including Chicago, as seen in the Chicago Tribune. The United States systems are the ones that have created and perpetuated discrimination in the country. As a result, many of the Americans’ life aspects have been affected due to discrimination. Research shows that individuals with African-American names are discriminated against when it comes to hiring in the state. The ripple effects associated with stereotyping and discrimination are many and of magnitude in society. Black Lives Matter Chicago is a movement that holistically tries to tackle the United States society’s problems. It aims to end discriminatory practices that are committed in the United States. The action goes beyond the policy issue and tries to tackle the problems even at the ground level. The campaign also helps in the enlightening the ignorant society members about the issues they face. Obasanjo supports the awareness creation notion by saying, “I can’t say that there is a concrete answer on how to confront people who remain blissfully ignorant towards such issues of inequality. But taking our role, for example, I hope that by demonstrating publicly and portraying a respectful show of black empowerment, we are confronting some people who may be blind Chicago is traditionally regarded as a city where the police are not kept accountable, and is thus a very important location for Black Lives Matter. Due to demonstrations such as that of Baltimore, Chicago City Council has taken steps to stop police torture and other related crimes (Hawkins).
Black Lives Matter is an American movement started by black- American activists, namely, Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi, and Alicia Cullors. The Black Lives Matter is a movement that expresses and aims at correcting systems failures in states like Chicago. The United States of America system’s influence has made blacks form the majority of the poor. The old alignment of the network has made the dark not viewed as equals of the whites. Racism has grown over the years to be one of the major community problems. Racism is a global problem that people do not want to talk about, and if they do, it is in silent voices. The Black Lives Matter movement list is not just to hold demonstrations to address issues like racism. It aims to change the world by making it a better home for all humans. The movement activities aimed towards making the world better places are multidimensional. It has a broadened concept of tackling issues to address all the major problems and unite the communities.
- Blackslivematter. “Black Lives Matter: Chicago.” Black Lives Matter. http://blacklivesmatterchicago.tumblr.com/ (accessed 18 May 2015).
- Boggs, James. “Chapter 7: Rebels with a Cause.” Libcom, http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/amreboggs.html (accessed May 31, 2015).
- Coalition to Govern America. “Chicago Cop Blast ‘Black Lives Matter’ Protestors with ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ (Video).” Govern America. http://governamerica.com/news/17115-chicago-cops-blast-black-lives-matter-protesters-with-sweet-home-alabama-video(accessed May 14, 2015).
- Kos, Daily. “Every 28 Hours a Black Man, Woman, or Child Is Murdered by Police or Vigilante Law Enforcement.” Daily Kos Campaigns. https://www.dailykos.com/campaigns/1013(accessed May 14, 2015).
- Editorial Board. “Rekia Boyd shooting was ‘beyond reckless,’ so cop got a pass.” Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-cop-verdict-servin- edit-0423-20150422-story.html (June 1, 2015).
- Falcon, Sylvanna. “The Globalization of Ferguson: Pedagogical Matters about Racial Violence.” Feminist Studies 41, No. 1 (2015): 218- 221.
- Garza, Alicia. “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement by Alicia Garza – The Feminist Wire.” The Feminist Wire.http://thefeministwire.com/2014/10/blacklivesmatter-2/(accessed May 14, 2015).
- Gross, Kevin. “’Blacks Lives Matter’: Q&A with Elijah Obasanya, Chicago Police Violence Protestor.” The DePaulia. http://depauliaonline.com/nation/2015/01/11/black-lives- matter-elijah-obasanya-chicago-police-violence-protest/ (accessed May 14, 2015).
- Hawkins, Steven. “After 30 Years, Accountability of Police Torture in Chicago.”Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-w-hawkins/after-30-years-accountability- for-police-torture-in-chicago_b_7278382.html (accessed May 19, 2015)
- Handley, Joel. “Slip of Officers’ Tongue Suggest that Police are Monitoring #BlackLivesMatter Protesters’ Cell Phones.” In These Times, http://inthesetimes.com/article/17476/a_slip_of_an_officers_tongue_suggests_police_are_monitoring_ferguson_protes (accessed May 31, 2015).
- Lindsey, Treva & Johnson Jessica. “Searching for Climax: Black Erotic Lives in Slavery and Freedom.” Meridians 12, No. 2 (2014): 169- 195.
- Lindsey, Treva. “Post- Ferguson: A “Herstorical” Approach to Black Violability.” Feminist Studies 41, No. 1 (2015): 232- 237.
- Prupis, Nadia. “’We have each other’s back’: May Day Rallies Highlight Black Lives Matter Movement.” Common Dreams. http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/05/01/we- have-each-others-backs-may-day-rallies-highlight-black-lives-matter-movement (accessed may 14, 2015).
- Bibbs, Rebecca. “OPRF parents upset ‘Black Lives Matter’ assembly excludes other races.” Chicago Tribune. http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/oak-park/news/ct-oak-black-lives-matter-tl-0312-20150306-story.html (accessed May 14, 2015).
- Rodriguez, Dylan. “The Political Logic of the non- profit Industrial Complex”, Academia, http://www.academia.edu/5959367/The_Revolution_Will_Not_Be_Funded_Beyond_the Non-Profit_Industrial_Complex (accessed May 31, 2015).
- Sabia, Camine. “Black Lives Matter SHUTDOWN attempt taking over streets of NYC and Chicago.” Bizpac Review. http://www.bizpacreview.com/2015/04/14/black-lives-mattershutdown-attempt-taking-over-streets-of-nyc-and-chicago-195541 (accessed May 14, 2015).
- Smith, Mychal Denzel. “A Q&A with Alicia Gaza, Co- founder of #BlackLivesMatter.” The Nation. http://www.thenation.com/blog/202305/qa-alicia-garza-co-founder blacklivesmatter (accessed May 14, 2015).
- Telesur. “Black Lives Matter Take Over Trains in Chicago.” Telesurtv, http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Black-Lives-Matter-Take-Over-Trains-in- Chicago-20150516-0018.html (accessed 18 May 2015).
- Theorgernizertc. “Common Objectives to the Black Lives Matter Movement.” The Organizer. http://tcorganizer.com/2015/01/16/common-objections-to-the-black-lives-matter-movement/ (accessed May 14, 2015).
- Transformative Spaces. “To Baltimore with Love: Chicago’s Freedom Dreams.” Transformative Spaces. http://transformativespaces.org/tag/black-lives-matter-chicago/ (accessed May 18, 2015).
- Wallerstein, Immanuel.“The Ideological Tensions of Capitalism: Universalism verses Racism and Sexism.” Rebels- Library, http://rebels-library.org/files/ambig_ident.pdf (accessed May 31, 2015).
- Wallersterstein, Immanuel. “New Revolts Against the System.” New Left Review, http://newleftreview.org/II/18/immanuel-wallerstein-new-revolts-against-the-system (accessed May 31, 2015).