Approaching Social Justice

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Written by Johnathon Goodenow. Media by Rachel Koehnemann.

A group advocating for change is most successful if it can prove there is a problem and enact a working solution.

Picture by: Rachel Koehnemann
Picture by: Rachel Koehnemann

BlackLivesMatter is a movement advocating against systematic racism. Recently, however, it has been closely associated with protesting police violence against the black community. If asked what the goal of the movement is, the average person would probably say “creating awareness” or “starting a conversation”. The problem with movements that have a broad purpose is that they lack a collective goal, which means they are also lacking a collective solution. According to BLM’s official website, this is what they are all about:

When we say Black Lives Matter, we are broadening the conversation around state violence to include all of the ways in which Black people are intentionally left powerless at the hands of the state.  We are talking about the ways in which Black lives are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity.”

#BlackLivesMatter is working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.”

When reading these statements, the public is left with a couple of questions:

What human rights, in particular, are they fighting for?

What rights has the state deprived them of?

How do they hope to get their rights?

Who is targeting them for demise? The state? The police? Citizens? How are we going to prevent blacks from being targeted?

My intention is not to criticize the movement but figure out what BlackLivesMatter is specifically trying to change and accomplish. Protesting is not as effective if the public is confused about the purpose and what kind of solution is being advocated for. How can the authorities oblige a solution when they aren’t sure what the movement hopes to gain? When BlackLivesMatter confronted Hillary Clinton about her role in the mass incarceration of blacks, she gave them some advice:

You can keep the movement going, which you have started, and through it, you may actually change some hearts. But without policy change, we’ll be back here in 10 years having the same conversation.”

Picture By: Rachel Koehnemann
Picture By: Rachel Koehnemann

BlackLivesMatter needs to be specific about the policies it wants to change if they ever want to see progress. Currently, BlackLivesMatter is an unorganized group with many branches that are all protesting in different ways (not necessarily adhering to the ideology of its leaders). Because of this, some protestors have also committed or incited violent actions.

BlackLivesMatter’s reputation is damaged whenever a riot follows a racially charged event. Time is wasted searching for apologies in people instead of helping them find a solution. It debates with people who counter them by saying all lives matter. These people are generally not racists, they just don’t feel as though BlackLivesMatter is sincere for some of the above reasons, or want to emphasize the importance of endangered lives in other parts of the world.

Some leaders may have already done what I have suggested here. They may have come up with specific problems and solutions which they are going to lobby for. The main problem is people don’t know that. There isn’t a very well-known face for BlackLivesMatter that is organizing protests on a national level.

Disorganization will eventually kill off the movement unless something is done about it.


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