By Qin Z.
Nowadays, the rapid development of social media has sent people into a new digital age, in which people can freely express their ideas and perspectives they’ve experienced and formed in daily life, and meanwhile, everyone engaging in this space will also be affected by the various contents displayed on social media in a varying degree. The black people are no exception. As the minority group, the black people, especially their lives have always been the hot topic focused and concerned by American society. “Black Lives Matter,” referring to a kind of typical social media movement activity is stressed on some social issues, such as gun control, racial inequality or discrimination, etc. This paper basically sheds light on the double roles of “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) media movement in affecting and shaping the understanding of the society about black people from the perspective of gun violence, racial justice, and social bias towards the black.
First of all, through the way of drawing the public awareness, especially the scholars’ on issues of gun violence and black lives, BLM helps not only to present the detailed data and information about the issue, but also to push the public to give a deeper understanding of the issue, which encourages the black people to fight against with the unfair situation in a way. In the article of “The vitality of social media for establishing a research agenda on black lives and the movement,” W. Carson Byrd, Keon L. Gilbert and Joseph B. Richardson put forward that Twitter as a sort of platform of BLM was helpful in arousing the attention of medical scholars to examine gun violence so as to protest the National Rifle Association (NRA) that was backed ban on Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gun violence research funding, having existed for many years. By drawing the scholars’ attention, the implicit and explicit contents of gun violence imposed on the black would be disclosed to the public to a large degree. This is definitely helpful to stop the phenomenon of gun violence on black people.
Besides, with the development and improvement of BLM, it broadly makes the American society, especially the black people realize the importance of themselves as the part of the nation, as well the equal social position with other white people in the society. In “Black Lives Matter: Toward a Modern Practice of Mass Struggle,” Russell Rickford pointed out that the participation in BLM protests of both the extensive collaboration with Latinos and undocumented populations signed a major victory for the movement. The joint efforts made by different groups of black people fully demonstrate the strong awareness of the black to maintain and struggle for their racial equality. Such inspirable progress would help to lay a solid foundation for further pushing others who are concerned about this issue to join the organization to make more progress. Also, the strong power of the social media movement is displayed here.
What’s more, BLM also helps to provide a platform for the organizers to send and spread thousands of posts containing their insightful ideas and opinions against the bias towards the black people in both reality and mass media. In “Black Twitter: A Response to Bias in Mainstream Media,” Latoya A. Lee believed that social media forums can be both battlegrounds as well a playground, because of these media forums, many protest activities are organized and the protesters’ advocates are spread quickly, which helps to shape and alter the attitudes and beliefs of the public so as to stop the bias existing in some mainstream media. In this case, the people, especially those who don’t have systematically correct cognition about social bias towards black people could at least stop the broad spread of incorrect doings whiling being posted under the atmosphere of critical thinking.
Moreover, “Black Lives Matter” as the social media movement doesn’t always play a positive role in helping the black people to pursue the equal position and fair treatment in the society but have some negative impacts on disturbing or preventing the public from knowing the truth in a way. In “The Danger of the “Black Lives Matter” Movement,” Heather Mac Donald came up with that in the past decade, black cop killers have accounted for 40 %, and the deaths of a large number of white and Hispanic people are caused by police killings, which is higher than that of the black people, but such facts are never reported by the media or the political advocates of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. This indicates that although the “Black Lives Matter” media movement has made some progress on the black issue, there are still some limitations during this process, such as ignoring the feelings and situations of the white people. After all, not all the white people disapprove the media movement advocated by the black people, and they deserve the truth from the media.
Consequently, through the analysis of the role of BLM through the aspects of social issue of gun control, racial discrimination and social bias towards the black people, the findings could be summarized as follows: BLM could really be used as a useful tool for the organizers and protesters to not only arouse the public attention of the gun violence towards the black so as to reveal the truth to the masses and promote the improvement about this issue, but also encourage more black people to realize their value as part of the nation and to work together for further development. Moreover, it also has some negative influences on people’s understanding about the truth, especially the true feelings and situations of the people except the black people in this situation, which also needs to be concerned. Of course, there are also some limitations in this article. For example, the author still needs to go into more materials to research other different responses towards this media movement so as to better understanding the social media movement’s roles in society.
Byrd, Carson, et al. 3. “The Vitality of Social Media for Establishing a Research Agenda on Black Lives and the Movement.” Ethic and Racial Studies. 13 July 2017, https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2017.1334937. Accessed 13 Dec. 2017.
Donald, Heather. “The Danger of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ Movement.” Hillsdale College, 16 Apr. 2016, https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Imprimis_April16.pdf. Accessed 13 Dec. 2017.
Lee, Latoya. “Black Twitter: A Response to Bias in Mainstream Media.” Social Sciences. 5 March 2017, file:///C:/Users/Administrator/Downloads/socsci-06-00026-v2.pdf. Accessed 13 Dec. 2017.
Rickford, Russell. “Black Lives Matter: Toward a Modern Practice of Mass Struggle.” New Labor Forum. N.d., file:///C:/Users/Administrator/Desktop/1095796015620171.pdf.Accessed 13 Dec. 2017.