Black Lives Matter movement is perhaps the world’s biggest movement focused on a single agenda and has changed a lot since its start. What started as a firebrand motivation for ending racial injustice, has turned into a full-fledged movement aimed at turning people’s mindsets about race, colour, and equality. Though there have been a lot of changes since it gained traction, to understand what is Black Lives Matter movement, one needs to see how it became a mainstream phenomenon.
How did Black Lives Matter start?
Though it was an established movement before 2020, it gained worldwide traction this year after people’s furore mainly in the US. This came to be after deaths of various Black people, most notably George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. People in the US took to streets to protest against police brutality, followed by the same in the UK, New Zealand, and a few other countries. Black Lives Matter protests have become a regular phenomenon in the US, urging common people and lawmakers to think and reflect on what is wrong with racial disparity. People protested against inequality between races, police brutality against people of colour, slavery, and racism in general.
What is Black Lives Matter?
It is an activist movement which started in 2013 after the shooting of 3 African-American men, against extreme police brutality. It brought together people from all walks of life along with activists to raise awareness on these social issues, most prominently involving the injustice against Black people.
While many people still have various opinion differences when it comes to agreeing to the cause, Black Lives Matter movement has changed a lot in the bigger picture.
The Black Lives Matter protests have shed light on America’s past which included slavery back then, signs of which can still be found in modern-day US. Protesters not only in US, but other countries such as UK, brought down statues of prominent people whose names were associated with either slavery, confederate past, or with killing indigenous people or people of colour.
In US especially, the country which could also be called the movement’s epicenter, many things have shown signs of change from the legal perspective. City Council members in Minneapolis voted on 26 June to advance a proposal to defund and disband their police department. The bold move, which came after protests for black lives, was unprecedented, and saw lawmakers coming together to speak up against police brutality. It led to a few other gestures such as Minneapolis public schools unanimously voting to cut contracts with Minneapolis police department, and Portland and Denver following suit.
Colorado ended qualified immunity for police, effectively ending police officers’ immunity from any legal liability. Many states also banned police from employing chokeholds or deadly force for offences which were non-violent. New York also passed a law which allows disclosing records of police misconduct to the public, allowing more transparency. Louisville has banned ‘No-knock warrants’ which previously gave police the authority to forcefully enter a home without any sort of prior notice.
On the more thought-oriented side of things, the Black Lives Matter movement has brought about more changes under the surface. It has motivated many people, including those with power to initiate change, to reflect on what is wrong in society. People are discussing and opening up more on race and privilege, and more white people are realizing that equal rights for all are a basic necessity, and people of colour should not be treated differently. Due to the protests for black lives, organisations are also coming forward to accept racism as an ongoing issue, and taking steps to tackle it effectively.
What did Black Lives Matter change globally?
The Black Lives Matter movement hasn’t stopped its reach till the US boundaries, sending out ripples of change globally. There have been protests worldwide, in countries such as the UK, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand. Where the issue of black lives being mistreated isn’t an issue as big as in the US, people are working to fight for human rights and equality and fairness for all.
Recognition of Juneteenth also happened this year in the wake of the deaths as the Black Lives Matter gained pace. The day is not exactly considered a federal holiday, but many organisations decided to give employees the day off to celebrate. From renaming of schools and airports to policy changes by lawmakers, seeds of change are sprouting as the movement carries on.
In the end, it will not suffice to say that things have changed, as it is still a long way to go. Even though Black Lives Matter has changed a lot, including people’s mindsets and policies, many still are against it as per their opinions, and there are people who are supporting the movement in their minds, but are yet to take concrete actions to change things. Will Black Lives Matter bring further change for good in the US and worldwide? Only time will tell.