Social Movements During the Time of COVID-19: Black Lives Matter Seminar Paper
Excerpt from Seminar Paper :
BLM and Covid 19 The U S at a Critical Crossroads
During the mid-1960s, the United States faced an existential threat when the combination of growing civil unrest over America’s military involvement in Southeast Asia in general and Vietnam in particular and pressure from a wide array of civil rights groups demanded equal treatment as well as their full complement of constitutional rights. The face that the republic survived this severe test to its viability underscores the strength of the U.S. Constitution as a living document, capable of responding to changes in prevailing social views and innovations in technology. Today, the nation is once again being sorely tested by a global coronavirus pandemic and a corresponding unprecedented economic downturn, but this time the demands for civil rights are far more broad-based and potentially disruptive to business as usual for mainstream politicians in the United States. The purpose of this paper is to review the recent literature concerning social groups such as Black Lives Matter, what they want, and how they intend to achieve it. Finally, a summary of the research and important findings about this critical juncture in the country’s history are presented In the paper’s conclusion.
Review and Discussion
The murder of George Floyd by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, and fellow officers on May 25, 2020, sparked a nationwide outrage that has since engulfed the entire world. At the time of Floyd’s death, many communities in the United States had already been on lock down for several weeks in an attempt to slow the spread of the current novel coronavirus and the Covid-19 disease it causes. In other words, many Americans were already jittery and Floyd’s high-profile murder shown on televisions screens around the world was a lit fuse for this racial powder keg.
Created in July 2013 in response to the acquittal of the white man who was charged with killing an unarmed black teenager who was walking down the street in Miami Gardens, Florida (Harris, 2020), the founders of Black Lives Matter (BLM), Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi claim the organization has helped focus needed attention on the systematic racism that remains firmly in place in the United States today (De Silva, 2020). According to the organization’s Web site, “Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes” (About BLM, 2020, para. 2).
Indeed, there are numerous ways that institutionalized racism creates inequalities in the United States at present, but many of these simply go unnoticed by white Americans because they do not affect them personally. In this regard, Solomon, Maxwell and Castro (2019) emphasize that:
For centuries, structural racism in the U.S. housing system has contributed to stark and persistent racial disparities in wealth and financial well-being, especially between Black and white households. In fact, these differences are so entrenched that if current trends continue, it could take more than 200 years for the average Black family to accumulate the same amount of wealth as its white counterparts. (para.…
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…protests taking place, the woman asked her husband, “Don’t all lives matter?” to which her husband replied, “Yes, of course they do, Honey.” His wife countered, “Well, why do they have to go around saying it then?” Her husband thought for a second and then responded, “I guess that’s their point.”
This “woke” recognition of the legitimate purpose of BLM by an elderly white man suggests that the organization’s founders have made significant progress in raising awareness concerning the systemic racism that still haunts the country even as American struggle to cope with an insidious global pandemic. Indeed, many black-owned businesses in the United States have experienced a significant increase in consumer support from all demographic groups as well as their revenues in the wake of BLM-sponsored protests over the death of George Floyd (O’Hara, 2020).
Like the fateful years of 1865 and 1945, American historians in the 22nd century will likely point to 2020 as a year in which the United States changed forever. The country is at an important crossroads in its history today, and it is becoming increasingly clear that many black people are no longer content to accept a status quo where they are still second-class citizens in a country that is purportedly dedicated to equality. Castigated by some mainstream Americans (read older white Republicans), the organizers of Black Lives Matter and similarly focused groups will likely be written about in history books and hailed as national heroes. It is reasonable to conclude the statues of the founders of Black Lives Matters will be erected prominently in the National Heroes…
Sources Used in Documents:
About BLM. (2020). Black Lives Matter. Retrieved from https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/.
Da Silva, C. (2020, July 17). BLM co-founder: ‘The entire world is saying black lives matter now.' Newsweek, 175(1), 37.
Harris, S. M. (2020, July). Black lives matter to systemic family therapists. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 46(3), 383.
O’Hara, M. E. (2020, July 27). Black-owned businesses see gains. Adweek, 61(16), 5.
Solomon, D., Maxwell, C. & Castro, A. (2019, August 7). Systematic inequality: Displacement, exclusion, and segregation. Center for American Progress. Retrieved from https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/reports/2019/08/07/472617/systemic-inequality-displacement-exclusion-segregation/.
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