The #BlackLivesMatter movement has impacted our news, politics, and society; whether for good or bad is a matter of opinion.
For a slight second, I started to feel bad for the #BlackLivesMatter movement. All at once, there seemed to be an avalanche of unsolicited critique and advice from elders, politicians and pundits.
Some of the tips were focused on activists’ behavior – encouraging participants to adopt a more docile approach to activism – others took a jab at the movement’s perceived disorganization, and then there’s the “fix the ghetto” comment by a Milwaukee Sheriff, who, like many of the movement’s critics, think activists should confront black-on-black crime before condemning police violence.
Regardless of the good or bad press, the movement, founded by three women of color, has changed the national political narrative, ignited a debate around police violence and has recently served as a topic of discussion many times among political candidates and their interviewers.
In its infancy, and without an appointed personality as its leader, the #BlackLivesMatter movement is, by various measurements, rivaling the results of black civil rights organizations decades its senior.
One of the movement’s most notable accomplishments, I would argue, is challenging Senator Bernie Sanders – and all other candidates seeking the presidency in 2016 – to release a real plan to reform policing and the criminal justice system in America.
Mr. Sanders’ policy paper – released in response to the movement’s request – to date, is, in my opinion, the most accurate to what many envision when they think of top-down, government initiated, radical reforms.
Policy proposals were not just released by candidates, but the movement, too, produced a policy agenda, and the Washington Post called it practical, thoughtful and urgent.
It wasn’t long ago that I heard complaints about black youth not being politically engaged, and now the gripe is that they’re engaging too aggressively.
And yes it’s true that some people who chant “black lives matter” also chant anti-police sentiments, but that’s a reflection on individuals in a hyper-inclusive movement, and shouldn’t be an indication on the national movement’s values.
But, again, shaking off the polarity of good or bad, the movement has inspired many to take to the streets and find their voice, no matter how controversial it may be perceived.
The movement has given many idle hands on social media a purpose, even if it’s nothing more than spreading information or an opinion.
Whereas, so many civil rights and black advocacy organizations are considered by youth as dormant or irrelevant, the #BlackLivesMatter movement is refreshing to constituents because it, well, moves – there’s activity, even if the action is frowned upon by some, or a majority.
The movement’s aim isn’t perfection, but justice, and that requires rigor, agitation, urgency, assertiveness, collaboration and a level of a I-don’t-give-a-f*ck, all qualities lacking in many mainstream civil rights organizations.
And, whereas, America heralds capitalism and business, the movement has become a globally recognized brand and symbol of resistance in less than three years, a measurement, in any other context, that would be praised indefinitely by investors.
Furthermore, the movement has amassed so much social capital and operating leverage that it was able to turn down a resolution of support from the Democratic National Committee, a credit many politicos would love to tout for their venture.
The #BlackLivesMatter movement is in the early stages of organizing, and yet its impact is felt and seen across the world.
The movement has no “leaders,” yet it’s leading an unprecedented conversation on race, privilege, class, power and violence. The movement, like any organization, could do things better, but why repeatedly discount what they have accomplished?
Why not acknowledge and applaud the sacrifices of young people nationwide? Why ignore the youth voices who are screaming to be heard?
Why compare them to leaders of the past instead of celebrating their individuality?
And more importantly, why dispute the indisputable: #BlackLivesMatter has an impact on our news, politics, and society; whether for good or bad is a matter of opinion.
* Tune into 900amWURD or 900amWURD.com every Friday evening during the 6 o’clock hour to hear me relive #TheWeekThatWas*
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™