Black Lives Matter is a very popular and growing movement in today's society as seen via many social media platforms such as twitter, youtube, and various news stories. When looking at the movement as a whole it is important to analyze and examine the rhetorical and argumentative choices that are being made in order to improve as a successful movement. I chose to analyze 3 different sources, one being from a popular social media platform such as twitter, another being a youtube video, and the last being from a news outlet.
For the video that I chose that contributed to the black lives matter movement, I chose and analyzed “5 Ways of Understanding Black Lives Matter”, by Frank Leon Roberts, Cynthia Erivo, and Ledisi. The very first element about the video that I happened to notice was the drama and emotion that went into it, as the video starts off with Tony Award Winner Cynthia Erivo introducing Frank Leon Roberts as being an active Black Lives Matter organizer, a professor at New York University (where he teaches the nations first black lives matter course), the co founder of the national black justice coalition base in Washington DC, and creator of the black lives matter syllabus.com. Following the audiences applause Roberts shortly came onto the stage and announced the purpose of him being there, which was to provide the audience with some tool keys for thinking about what black lives matter does as a movement and as a whole. He continued to explain that we should all look at the Black Lives Matters Movement in 4 ways. The first way being; Black Lives Matter is a human rights movement. When he explains this statement, he continued to say that there is a difference between a Civil Rights Movement, and a Human Rights Movement. A Civil Rights Movement is usually powered towards one specific goal, such as the right to marry, or the right to vote. A Human Rights Movements deeper in the sense that it asks the question “Who gets to be counted as human?” “What does is mean to live in a nation where the very idea that Black people are human beings is a relatively new concept?” “Black Lives Matter is a movement that is seeking to humanize a dehumanized people.” He also argues that if all lives matter, there shouldn't be any controversy when focusing on Black Lives, and that all lives can’t matter until black lives do. Roberts then goes on to explain the second of the 4 components of BLM; Black Lives Matter is an intersectional movement. When speaking about Black Lives Matter, BLM includes womens lives, queer lives, immigrant lives, etc. BLM is not simply subjected to include cisgender lives. Black Lives matter is an abolitionist movement, which is different from a reform movement. Black lives matter is not simply looking to reform, but rather to abolish. He goes on to say that in the past, when looking at other types of abolishonist movements, they were never looking to dismantle or break down a broken world, but rather- having a commitment to building a new one, which is one of the purposes of Black Lives Matter, as it forces us to imagine new ways of being in this world. Finally, Black Lives Matter is an artistic movement. Although the idea of BLM being an artistic movement is a bit strange to think about, he explains that artists have played a very important role in the story of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Whether that be through leadership, choreography, composition, theatricality, directorial vision or creativity, artists play a very big role in BLM. Roberts ends his speech with the final component of Black Lives Matter, and that is that BLM is a prayer. “A remembrance prayer to all of the ancestors who didn't make it out of the bottom, it is a remembrance prayer for Micheal Brown, for Sandra Bland, for all of the names that we don't know, It is a remembrance prayer for our grandmothers and great great great great grandmothers washed dishes and cleaned clothes and raised other peoples children so that one day we might see the light of day. Black lives matter is also an affirmation prayer, a prayer in which you need to speak something into existence before you can actually tell if its reality in this world. Although we say and believe that Black Lives Matter, when looking at the material conditions of the world obviously the state disagrees. Prayer and Faith without works is dead. For us, for you, is about - lets get to work.”. After watching this video a few times and taking notes/ analyzing it, I’ve realized that an emotional appeal along with prescriptive definition, repetition, and devision/inclusion is what really comes together and helps makes this video successful. Looking at his entire speech as a whole, the whole thing is just a method of redefining the BLM movement and breaking it down into simple parts that are easy to understand. Breaking down the movement into smaller parts and then bringing it back together again is effective because it represents the simplicity and the complexity that the movement is. He makes his proposition for this redefinition of the movement easier and more convincing by the use of emotion and repetition. He starts of with the component as a whole. For example, Black Lives Matter is a human rights movement. He then explains what the statement means, explains the difference between BLM and other movements, and then repeats the simple phrase, Black Lives Matter is a human rights movement, again. The way he breaks things down is vey simple yet effective, and also easy for the audience to absorb. The emotional appeal is shown here and there but is the most prominent in his conclusion. He relates to the audience by his use of words like “us” and “we”, and uses an appeal to consequences by proposing that the belief in BLM leads to good circumstances and outcomes. He is also very adamant in the way he chooses to persuade his audience by saying things like “all lives can’t matter until black lives do” and “for us, for you- lets get to work.” This gives the audience the impression that there is no other option, we are doing this and we are doing it right now, and we cant do it without contribution. I think that the way that Roberts chooses to argue and break things down is effective. It seems to me like he had a perfect mixture of making the movement easy to understand, along with incorporating a sense of emotion and urgency into his argument. This video reminds me a lot of Chapter 3 in the Leadership For Social Change book because by the redefinition of the movement he is transforming the perceptions of the audience and those who are perceiving the movement. It also relates to Chapter 5 (Leadership of social movements) because of the many people who contribute to not only Black Lives Matter, but also to Roberts himself for being such a prominent leader for the movement.
The next piece of information that I decided to analyze was my press piece titled “ A Year Of Black Lives Matter” by Clare Foran. This piece is very self explanatory to the title, as it literally is a recap of the ups and (mainly) downs of this year of Black Lives Matter, with a main focus on the presidential election and the urge for change. Foran states that, “As protestors shout and struggle to make their voices heard, a national conversation of equal intensity is emerging over who belongs in American society—and who doesn’t.” She also states that this year BLM protesters have been violently disrupting election campaigns and demanding the attention of politicians. “The protests were also a reminder to progressives that simply believing in something isn’t sufficient to change the status quo.” The component of this article that stands out to me the most is the fact that people are not doing enough for the Black Lives Matter Movement. One quote that stood out to me would have to be “Simply believing in something isn’t sufficient to change the status quo.” This stood out to me because it goes hand in hand with the “Ways of Understanding Black Lives” video. Something that I thought was interesting is why Black Lives Matter isn't progressing the way they want it to. “One point of contention is whether the movement has adequately responded to the impact of violence against black women and girls. The #SayHerName campaign works to call attention to violent encounters between black women and police. But many activists say that far more needs to be done. There is also a recognition that Black Lives Matter must build an increasingly sophisticated infrastructure to support its growth.” The essay concludes with the feeling that there needs to be much, much more change in the Black Lives Matter campaign, which makes me wonder what BLM is doing wrong in terms of the actions that they are taking. In terms of relation to the Leadership for Social Change book, I feel like this chapter especially relates to Chapter 3, The Persuasive Functions of a Social Movement. I think that this relates to this chapter because it is analyzing the movement as a whole and the effects of it. Whether or not BLM’s social function works or not is the real question.
In terms of social media, I chose the Black Lives Matter twitter page. While viewing the BLM page I see a lot of creative aspects and it is very obvious that they use their twitter page as a platform to raise awareness to all of the issues around the world that contribute to the exact reason why there is a Black Lives Matter movement in the first place. They are also responsible for many of the hashtags like #Sayhername and obviously #Blacklivesmatter. I chose not to focus too much on the tweets because there isn't very much content within them considering the preliminary purpose of them is to raise awareness.
In conclusion, the pieces that I analyzed helped me to understand a lot about the Black Lives Matter Movement as a whole. It also helped me realize that although there are many efforts for it to grow and live up to its dream of becoming an abolitionist movement, although there is quite a lot of work to be done. One of the main problems that BLM has is although many people support it, they don't particularly support it enough to actually show that through their actions, which is a major problem for the movement. They are very misunderstood, which is why the explanation of BLM that is portrayed throughout the video is so effective. Before working on this project I honestly knew very little about the movement, but after researching my topic I started to understand more, which what I think a lot of others that are misinformed need to realize. In order for Black Lives Matter to be a successful movement all around there needs to be full cooperation, less watching and hash tagging, and more action that will eventually lead to positive change.