In a recent article, front runner Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have attempted to align themselves with the Black Lives Matter movement. It appears that this is a strategy to align them to receive the majority Black vote for which Republicans desperately need. Black Lives Matter can use their opportunities to enhance the overall economic advantage needed by many of the constituents that they supposedly represent instead of becoming a disruptive force in their bid to improve race relations.

According to the article, What we don’t talk about when we talk about race in America, Bernie Sanders has benefited from an intrusion by Black Lives Matter activists. In August 2015, Bernie Sanders was scheduled to appear at Netroots Nation to only be interrupted by the activists. This interruption resulted in Bernie Sanders eventually becoming highlighted on the cover of Times Magazine as well as continuing to receive thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.

Hillary Clinton has benefited from the Black Lives Matter movement too. Recently, Hillary Clinton met with the activists which resulted in national attention. It appears that any democratic candidate that comes in contact with the Black Lives Matter activists have benefited which is contrary to the original purposes of the movement.

What is the purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement?

According to the Black Lives Matter website, Black Lives Matter is a unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes. It goes beyond the narrow nationalism that can be prevalent within some Black communities, which merely call on Black people to love Black, live Black and buy Black, keeping straight cis Black men in the front of the movement while our sisters, queer and trans and disabled folk take up roles in the background or not at all. Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, Black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. It centers those that have been marginalized within Black liberation movements. It is a tactic to (re)build the Black liberation movement. It appears that the Black Lives Matter movement should appeal to the liking of each Black and minority in the United States. However, their results appear to disruptive and marginal.

What is the history of the Black Lives Matter movement?

  1. The movement Black Lives Matter began as the hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter on Twitter, after George Zimmerman’s 2013 acquittal for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
  2. In August 2014, during Labor Day weekend, Black Lives Matter organized a “Freedom Ride”, that brought more than 500 African-Americans from across the United States into Ferguson, Missouri, to support the work being done on the ground by local organizations.
  3. In December 2014, at least 20 members of a protest that had been using the slogan, Black Lives Matter, were arrested at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.
  4. In November 2014 in Oakland, California, Black Lives Matter stopped a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train on Black Friday, which was one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
  5. In April 2015, Black Lives Matter activist supported a fast food strike in solidarity with fast food workers, and to oppose racial income inequality.
  6. On May 21, 2015 in San Francisco, a protest by Black Lives Matter was part of a nationwide protest of the police killing of black women and girls, which included the deaths of Aiyana Jones, Yvette Smith, Rekia Boyd as well as other women.
  7. In July 2015, at the Netroots Nation Conference, the founder of Black Lives Matter Patrisse Cullors led a protest yelling “Burn everything down!”, and interrupted the speeches of Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders.
  8. On August 8, 2015, a speech by Democratic presidential candidate and civil rights activist Bernie Sanders was disrupted by a group from the Seattle Chapter of Black Lives Matter.
  9. On August 13, 2015, activists chanting “Black Lives Matter” interrupted the Las Vegas rally of Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush.
  10. On August 19, 2015, Black Lives Matter issued a statement against the murder of black transgender women, titled “It’s Time! Putting the T Back in Black.”
  11. On August 29, 2015, marchers using the Black Lives Matter banner were recorded in a 19-second video posted on Twitter showing marchers chanting, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon” at the Minnesota State Fair.

It appears that the Black Lives Matter movement has credence in its focus, but the process may endanger the lives of many Blacks and set back the efforts of past civil rights activists. While it is important to express discontent with the present conditions for Blacks, the Black Lives Matter movement would be more beneficial to promote positive racial relationships.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D. PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012


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2 thoughts on “Can Black Lives Matter improve race relations in America?”

  1. #BlackLivesMatter is still so much less important than Feminism! As long as ALL women are oppressed by patriarchy why do we even worry about a very narrow oppression example – just a single race?

  2. Pingback: Why race relations have declined under Barak Obama? | Learning Flourishes in an Environment Free of Racism

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