By Myrtille Mallet (2EA)
Today, Black Lives Matter is a global movement against systemic racism and racially motivated incidents of police violence that nearly everyone has heard of today, but in conversations wit many students (or adults!), many are unaware of its origins.
Hippolyte, a 4eme student at La Tour, admits in an interview that she “know[s] about the movement, but [not about] how it started.” So, this article hopes to fill some gaps in student knowledge about the origins of this important movement.
In the United States of America, there is a history of systemic racism and discrimination toward Black people. Often, this discrimination and racism take violent forms and has led to multiple deaths and incidents of violence against BIPOC at the hands of the police. In 2013, Black Lives Matter came to life with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media after George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in February 2012. Soon after, the movement gained momentum when protestors took to the streets after two more deaths of Black men at the hands of the police, those of Michael Brown and Eric Garner in 2014.
Organized by Alicia Garza, Patrice Cullors and Opal Tometi in 2013, the movement was both ideological and political at first. It was used as a way to speak up and against a system of racial oppression and violence, a way to put forward the contributions of Black people as well as their resilience in face of constant racially motivated discrimination.
Today, in 2020, the movement is still alive. It had to keep going because the unfair treatment and violence against Black people still is not over, as we saw with the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police officers just this year. George Floyd’s murder by policemen had been recorded and led to protests all over the country and a renewal of the usage of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag.
A significant amount of people had seen the video of a police officer choking George Floyd, who can clearly be heard saying that he could not breathe. The use of social media to share information about the movement was important because, as Geoffroy said in his interview, it informs the population and “it helps some people everywhere realize that this is a real problem in the U.S.”
Indeed, the use of social media as well as protests informed a lot of people who weren’t directly concerned by racism and who therefore didn’t really know there was a problem.
The Black Lives Matter movement is the biggest current political movement in the United States. In May and June of 2020, there were between 15 and 25 million people in the streets of their cities protesting.
Police brutality is, sadly, one of the most important parts of racism. The main issue with it is that policemen can’t really be punished for their actions as they are strongly protected by the law. Black Lives Matter protests underline the need for systemic and structural changes.
Geoffroy Mallet, a 44-year-old white man and father of a high school student, says that the movement has inspired reflection on race and community: “We all have to think about what we do to be inclusive for everyone.”