As we are reading the book “The Hat U Give” we are also looking into the international activist movement Black Lives Matter. The campaign made its’ mark on social media in 2013 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a man who shot the unarmed African-American Trayvon Martin. It all began with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, and today BLM are regularly holding protest speaking out against police killings of black people and racial inequality.
Three women were all we needed. Alicia Garza was one of the people who shared their feelings on Facebook regarding the acquittal of Martin’s murder. She posted: “Our lives matter, black lives matter”. Patrice Cullors then replied with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Opal Tometi was the third women to show her support with the same hashtag. Since then it has become the banner under which dozens of disparate organizations, millions of people, loosely and tightly related, press for change. The campaign continued to spread as several police killings have occurred. In fact, the slogan of the movement was created when another story was shared: Eric Garner was killed by NYPD-officer with a chokehold. Garner screamed “I can’t breathe” about eleven times before he died. Ever since his words have covered clothes and posters worldwide.
The BLM movement is a powerful example of the social revolution we are a part of. Social media is not only for posting pretty pictures of our “perfect” lives. It is also a platform for discussing issues like racial inequalities. The internet is a unique tool for reaching out with an important message fast and far. Only on Instagram, the hashtag has been used 6 668 883. Everything is one keystroke away, which makes it possible for people in every corner of the world able to participate in the movement. Ordinary citizens are able to tell their own stories. Black Lives Matter activist Ashley Yates says: “Social media has given people on the ground a voice and a validation as a trusted source.” (Media)
Even though this is great, social media also has a dark side. Harassment, threats, and insults are basic hazards of online activism today and this campaign was not an exception. The movement has faced a lot of criticism. Some argue that it is a protest against anti-police. Others believe it is unfair that the lights only are shining on black victims. As a response, the phrase “All Lives Matter” sprang out. But the core of the case is not about whether or not you are black or white, it is about police officers abusing their power. It is a protest suggesting that the system is failing.