BlackLivesMatter began as an international movement within the African-American population to protest violence, racial profiling, the use of disproportionate force, and extrajudicial killings of African-Americans by police. The #BlackLivesMatter campaign began in 2013 with the use of the Twitter hashtag #BlackLivesMatter after police officer George Zimmerman was cleared of all charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an African-American teen (Edwards 7). Three black community activists, Opal Tometi, Patrisse Gullors, and Allicia Garza, met in 2013 at a seminar called “Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity” and started to challenge the extent to which black lives have been devalued. The movement has grown to become recognized internationally through its vigorous demonstrations and protests against violence, shooting, mistreatment, and racial discrimination on African-Americans. According to the movement, there is the unjustified killing of African-Americans by the police, and the existing judicial system has given a blind eye to the happenings in the country.
Factors that contributed to formation of BlackLives Matter
To understand the better formation of BlackLives Matter movement, it is important to revisit the previous civil rights activists in the United States and how African-Americans fought hard to make sure that people of color get their civil rights. In his book, Edward narrates some of the instances which he encountered as an activist on cases involving police brutality just to give a picture of how African-Americans have been targeted by use of excessive force by the police (Edwards 5). He says in 1991, an African-American mother Earline Skinner had her son shot and immediately the media covered the story by demonizing her and making the police heroics. After some bitterness in her heart, she sought justice through the courts, but she could not find it.
The shooting of Jimmy Lee Jackson in Alabama in 1965 shows how law enforcement officers are out to shoot and kill any colored person who challenges white supremacy or the social status quo. Relentless efforts by political and civil rights activists in the past acted as an inspiration to the current movement to stand up and defend rights of people of color. The BlackLives Matter movement holds the key to ensuring that the rights of all people in the United States are respected, and it is geared towards ensuring that American economic and social relationships are reordered. The social, political and judicial systems in the United States remain biased against black people in many ways as indicated by various researchers. Women have been at the forefront in the fight against police brutality, and they have demanded that the media also highlights the plight of black women in police hands (Taylor 166)
The judicial system has been biased in delivering justice to Americans through controversial decisions that they make on cases related to Black people. One study reveals that “black offenders make up approximately 30% of the total probation population, 40% of the parole population and 44% of the prison population” (Egharevba 247). This statistic is an indicator that criminal justice system is not fair in its distribution of justice because black offenders are likely to face severe punishments compared to white offenders (Egharevba 247).Therefore, all the above statistics warrants the formation of BlackLives Matters movement to fight for the rights of the African-American.
Police brutality in the United States is not a new thing because previously numerous discussions were held about the effects of police brutality and prevalence against minority groups in the U.S. especially African-Americans. Activists argued that rampant protests in the U.S streets were as a result of police brutality and harassment against the minority groups (Alexander 42). But to counter these sentiments, Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia states that “If blacks conduct themselves in an orderly manner, they will not have to worry about police brutality” (Alexander 42). This kind of reasoning the senator is superfluous because police officers are supposed to provide security to people and property contrary to assertions by the senator that seems to justify police brutality. It is this kind of arguments that have led matters out of hand until movements such as BlackLives Matters came into place.
Wesley Lowery reveals that some part of the United States especially those occupied by African-Americans are heavily policed than others (Lowery 24). He attributes such scenarios to the fact that African-Americans are viewed as violent people who must be dealt with (Lowery 24). The media plays a crucial role in ensuring that justice for people of color is delivered and ensure that people live in harmony. The kind of message that it gives to people regarding African-Americans heavily determines how other races relate with black people. Most of the times, the media portrays black people as violent and unruly (Lowery 56). This portrayal creates a notion that people of color should be heavily guarded by the police and this contributes to rampant violence against blacks.
BlackLives Matter is an internationally organized movement formed to safeguard the rights of African-Americans and other minority groups through protests against violence and police brutality on African-Americans. Findings and statistics by various people in the past and present indicate that police in the U.S have acted brutally against colored people and the minority groups. Therefore, the formation of this movement is warranted and with various protests and demonstrations held by the movement, awareness about the rights of colored people has been created.
Alexander, Michelle, and Cornel West. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. , 2011. Print.
Edwards, Sue Bradford. Black lives matter. ABDO, 2016.
Egharevba, Stephen. Police Brutality, Racial Profiling, and Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System. , 2016.
Lowery, Wesley. They Can’t Kill Us All: The Story of Black Lives Matter. 2017. Print
Taylor, Keeanga-Yamahtta. From #blacklivesmatter to Black Liberation. , 2016. Print.