Social Movements – In-depth Analysis of Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement

Social movements form groups of action whose primary objective is to provide organizational structures that empower a section of the population that feels oppressed to resist an unjust system. Often, they are broad groupings of organizations or individuals focusing on a particular social or political issue that is of the utmost concern to them. Over the years, they have been part of a global expression of dissent, utilizing technology and most recently, the internet to mobilize individuals into action when the need arises (Meyer, 2002, p. 23). It is important to acknowledge that adapting to communication inclinations has been a common theme in all successful movements with social media use playing an integral role in facilitating collective action and civic engagement. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) is one such movement originating from members of the African American community who seek to bring to an end the systematic racism and violence that has been directed towards black people in the United States.  A widely known fact is that social movements have an effect on human behavior and play a significant role in defining its nature. In this essay, I will elucidate on an in-depth analysis of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement using the resource mobilization theory, the effect of social change on the individual’s behavior and options that one can use to support such a person.

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is known for being quite active in holding protests condemning the killing of unarmed black individuals by the police in the United States. The campaign seeks to address the broader issues that affect the American society such as police brutality, racial profiling and the more recent ethnic inequality that is said to be present in the United States criminal justice system. The resource mobilization theory tries to explain the relative success of such movements by looking at its ability of to acquire the necessary resources and mobilizing individuals who will further the cause.  The most important resources that change requires to function optimally are time and money, which if utilized in the best of ways is powerful enough to power it. The inception of the Black Lives Matter began in 2013 with a hashtag after the acquittal of George Zimmerman who had evoked the stand-your-ground laws and shot dead an American teen, Trayvon Martin, who he perceived as a threat (Lebron, 2017, p. 23). The street demonstrations that would follow next saw the movement gain national recognition after the death of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of police. It is critical to acknowledge that police brutality against African Americans in the United States was not uncommon before the death of Trayvon Martin. A rise in racial profiling in law enforcement had over the last decade seen the death toll resulting from the use of excessive force grow exponentially. However, mobilization only began after the Trayvon Martin’s case came to light, with many agitated individuals joining in the protest. It was at this point that co-founders, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi came together to start an online campaign to respond to Zimmerman’s acquittal.

Participation in a social movement has profound effects on the behavior of an individual. In reality, they enter a new realm that requires them to adhere to a particular set of ideals meant to push an agenda (Owens, Stryker, White, & International Miniconference. Indiana University-Purdue University, 2003, p.56). Fidelity to these guiding principles aims at transforming the participant’s perspective to fit that of the movement which would ensure that they would achieve their goals. In the Black Lives Matter movement, the general expectation was that one would alter their behavior. The effectiveness of the mobilization process depends on the unity of action in the members which would ensure that they push for the implementation of their revolutionary paradigm that is meant to set change in motion. As a result, people’s normal behavior might change for them to fit the requirements and in essence creating an individual with a new temperament and disposition. The top leadership of the movement has absolute control over the members and expects them to follow every directive that they provide. Moreover, the movement might also require the group to adopt a common mode of dressing and use new language to communicate their objectives. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement also needs its members to recruit all marches and protests whenever they are called to action. As a result, members who feel strongly about the organization might try to prove their sense of commitment by investing their finances towards the cause. In other extreme cases, individuals have been known skip work or forfeit tasks all in response to the movement. As a result, it is common for their productivity at work to take a nose dive due to a rise in divided attention. A long-term biographical impact of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement on individuals is that they undergo changes in rhetoric that soon transforms their personalities to be in congruence with the standing principles.

A person who has been affected by a social movement such as Black Lives Matter can be aided by first receiving the necessary advice regarding their identity. Before joining such a movement, the individual should first establish what their traits are and how they will be expected to change (Reger, Myers, & Einwohner, 2008, p. 90). From the onset, a sense of self-actualization would aid them in knowing who they are and what they stand for. By so doing on can differentiate between their personality and that which the movement expects them to adopt. Furthermore, a staunch member should be able to strike a meaning balance between their own life and the change. A balance would ensure that they set their priorities right and avoid spending all their time protesting in the expense of their way of living. An individual who is aware of what society expects of them will strike a balance between their participation in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and attend to their duty as society requires.

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