Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
Black Lives Matter is an organisation that has been protesting for the rights, freedoms, and justice for the black community, the goal being for a collective, equal freedom. After the death of George Floyd on the 25th May, Black Lives Matter has gained momentum, both on social media and through the large protests that are taking place around the globe. All of this has happened during the global pandemic of COVID-19; however, I don’t believe this has completely hindered the process. In fact, lockdown at times has proved to help the Black Lives Matter Movement and here’s why:
The mass protests that took place were some of the largest demonstrations we have seen in history. The New York Times argues that it is perhaps the largest movement in US History with significant public involvement. The UK is not far behind. This has also happened concurrently with the furlough scheme in the UK, as where many retail and hospitality sectors have closed, people have been left without a job. The scheme has ensured that people don’t slip into unemployment. Thereby, people have more time, as they don’t have a job to attend to and can put their efforts into something outside of work. This has resulted in people being able to involve themselves more in social causes, as they have the time to go out and protest. When people are locked inside a work timetable it is often difficult for them to make a physical appearance, even when it’s a cause that they are passionate about. There are problems with this, as COVID-19 has meant that the press can flip it into a problem for social distancing. However, the protests that I’ve seen have shown distancing, and when comparing this to the far-right protests, this puts the Black Lives Matter Movement into a better light.
The essence of free time has been a blessing even for those who cannot leave the house to attend a physical process. People have been spending more time on their phones; thus, social media presence has increased. This has meant that people have been sharing informational posts on the Black Lives Movement, sharing the hashtag so that it trends and promoting Black small business (creating boycotts for larger ones such as Boohoo). This has also resulted in people addressing the racists that they see on their timeline and ensuring that businesses are being called out for a lack of diversity. Cancel culture is not always a perfect solution but it has also meant that many celebrities and influencers have had to apologise for their problematic past and ensure that it doesn’t continue in the future.
In addition to this, people have had time to read which normally is a hobby that is difficult to keep up alongside full-time work. Black Lives Matter books have sold out on many big sites such as Amazon. Including, ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ by journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge which I highly recommend.
It should also be noted that lockdown has bought families back together, as students have moved out of student accommodations back to their hometowns. This has meant that discussion has been able to take place with people from different generations, so that opinions can be talked about and problematic points can be addressed. The proximity has given place for these conversations.
Lockdown may have given the press more leeway with there presentation of the protests (as an act against social distancing) but, it has also given people time to get involved in politics in a way that there job prevented them from doing so before. Maybe, there’s a problem with the excessive hours people have to work in order to make a living, as this stops them from having a chance to protest for the causes that they are passionate about. At the end of the day, political activism is the foundation of protecting the rights of the people.