Role Models vs. Leaders and the BLM

“The central contradiction of the civil-rights movement was that it was a quest for democracy led by organizations that frequently failed to function democratically.”

It is almost impossible to determine whether or not the Black Lives Matter movement, or any movement for that matter, would function better with or without leadership. On the one hand, we see how misguided and unproductive, social activism can be without a rock steady plan or a leadership to take it in a forward direction. Instead what comes to be is an amalgam of angry individuals with points of view and emotions each unique to every individual. In this kind of climate there is often nothing but rage but with no clear objective, all the potentially powerful energy sort of just dissipates and nothing is really accomplished. Then if you assign leaders to the movement, it becomes far too easy to overlook the outliers of the cause. A leader can never fully represent the entirety of everyone they speak for. And if a leader speaks only to the majority, then again the minority is neglected and the vicious cycle repeats itself. This is why the Black Lives Matter movement needs not leaders, but role models. BLM isn’t desperate for leadership to direct it where to go or what to feel. The individuals that identify with the BLM know what they feel. They can see the injustice. They know they want better for themselves and the people they love. Instead, BLM requires role models like Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks and Muhammed Ali who, as central to civil rights movements as they were, they led by example not by instruction. BLM needs to become a movements that showcases the potential and the beauty, the power, the unity, the support of black individuals. And to do that it must be achieved by looking to minority role models and understanding that that is how we want to live our lives. Because for Black Lives Matter to succeed and make real change in the world, it can’t be an organization demanding respect. It has to be a way of life commanding it.

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Black Lives Matter, too

Tomi Lahren on Black Lives Matter

After reading the articles, I went online to search more about the movement and the “all lives matter” response. The video above, in my opinion, represents a lot of people who would say all lives matter and their argument against the movement. Watching her talk made me angry, even though before this video I also felt like the movement is not that much my concern, because how can someone contradict herself so much but still defends herself so confidently?

The entire premise of All Lives Matter is to distract and erase the whole idea behind BLM. Black Lives Matter started because evidence has shown that even though many choose to ignore it, racism is still very much alive in this country and black people are still discriminated against – they understand that all lives matter, but the people who are starting the All lives matter slogan do not see that they meant “black lives matter TOO”.

Ransby’s article on the movement points out a few problems with the movement – it is too often dismissed as a leaderless movement that will not succeed, even though it does. The history of BLM is all on the internet for anyone to learn, its strong ties to feminism and the LGBTQ community, has all been discussed by leaders of the movement publicly. But people want things handed to them. Which is why there are so many people doing things under the BLM name wrongly. Which is also why people like Tomi Lahren would criticise the movement – they were already against it, after seeing so much bad press, they felt justified to call activists “cry babies still protesting for a failed movement.”

#BlackLivesMatter is still alive and I think its more important than ever right now; more structure, more education, more change.

Understanding #Blacklivesmatter

Black Lives Matter is an amazing organization that was created after the murder of Trayvon Martin. The organization goes beyond this murder, and beyond the killings of Black people by police and authority. The organization declares the lives of all Black lives along the gender spectrum, and is a tactic to rebuild the Black liberation movement. “Yet, although the movement initially addressed the killing of unarmed young black men, the women were equally committed to the rights of working people and to gender and sexual equality” (Cobb 2016). This organization, #Blacklivesmatter, uses social media to promote it’s ideas and gain followers. The organization calls attention to the way Black people are intentionally left powerless. Unfortunately, with the inauguration of President Trump, this movement and many more will have to stand up and fight for freedom and equality. “Black activists have organized in response to police brutality for decades, but part of the reason for the visibility of the current movement is the fact that such problems have persisted—and, from the public’s perspective, at least, have seemed to escalate—during the first African-American Presidency” (Cobb 2016). It is very unfortunate that these problems are more likely to get much worse with President Trump’s election into office. I am personally very scared, not just for American’s but for humanity as a whole. The organization asserts that all lives matter, not just Black lives. Black lives matter is working to combat racism, it is so important that we support movements and groups like this! In addition, we must solve our gun law problems in America. I have little hope that things will get better, but I am hoping we can fight together and stay strong.

How Egypt and the U.S. Can Help One Another

As I mentioned in class on Thursday, the fact is that social media and digital technology as a whole carries an altogether different weight in certain regions of the world. In the United States and certain parts of Europe where we can enjoy more liberties than say Egypt and other countries in the Middle East, social media and digital technology has achieved a level of trivialness to it. A large portion of media exists primarily a entertainment for the masses. In countries like Egypt, these same technologies are more of a tool to fight back against authoritarian military rule. Where we post videos of us and our friends standing still while Rae Sremmurd’s Black Beatles or paste the Jordan crying meme over anything we can, the digital generation of other countries post horrifying evidence to injustice. The digital generation of other countries create movements, an unofficial network, a system of resistance where it can only exist. The digital world is a safe haven in countries like Egypt. Don’t get me wrong, all across more privilege countries social media and the digital plane are being utilized to galvanize the masses. Especially recently, places like Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr have been used to organize movements like the Women’s March, Black Lives Matter, and the Occupy movement. There are two things you can say about this:

The first would be that these movements are all fairly new considering when countries like the United States were first introduced to social media. This fact can be both concerning and comforting. It is concerning because it speaks to a sort of devolution of society. It seems as if more and more problems arise everyday. Every time you look at your phone a new social injustice threatens to further divide our society. But one can argue that all of these social injustices have always existed only now with the blazing fast interconnected network that is social media and the digital age, every single indiscretion is at the mercy of being highlighted and magnified and rallied against. And that’s why the fact that so many movements are popping up in the digital realm is comforting. Because people are finally beginning to understand how to use social media and other digital outlets as ways to unite and inform and fight for what is right and just. Because the internet is no longer just a place to find memes or porn or other nonsensical stuff. Because online you can find support from people you’ve never even met. All of these reasons are why things like Black Lives Matter are important and comforting.

Which brings me back to the youth of the digital age in places like Egypt. Since their inception Twitter and other social media platforms have been tools utilized by the citizenry of Egypt to fight back against the military rule. Because of this these societies have been learning how to use their digital advantage for much longer than other more privileged places. Like I said, in Egypt the capabilities of Twitter matter much more than in some parts of the United States. The power of digital technologies is not only more valuable but it has been explored more by the youth and the oppressed. It is because of this fact, the fact that the youth of Egypt have been fighting their fight for years and years in the digital realm, that the studies and research on the impacts of digital technologies on the new generation should focus in places like Egypt. Not only that, but that countries like the United States should both pay close attention, and work vehemently with digital warriors of these regions to fully explore the revolutionary power of new technology.

Defeating the Past by Embracing the Future

The youth’s greatest advantage over the oppressive systems that it finds itself in, is the understanding and ability to quickly embrace new technology. The youth often lives in a separate world and the youth of today find that world in the digital realm. the young people of today who are disgruntled and unsatisfied by their governments more likely than not can find refuge in the internet. They can also find a means to fight back. Because the media is relatively new, things like social media and there outlet are dominated primarily by young users. It is here that the youth can organize to topple old institutions and practices. The youth shapes the future. The youth alone can correct the injustices of older generations.

To reduce Khaled Said to nothing more than his imperfections is incredibly irresponsible in regards to fighting the injustice that very much exist today. The same can be said when people insist that Trayvon Martin was a thug. There is absolutely no crime that could warrant the murder of unarmed civilians by veteran police officers who are trained specifically to detain not kill. Especially not when much of the socio-economic factors that push individuals into tough lifestyles are created by the forces that so eagerly label them as “thugs” and “hoodlums”.  To accuse individuals of wrong doings as some sort of justification for their murder is to brush away and hide the actual fact that women, minorities, and other groups face very real oppression.

The beautiful thing about the We Are all Khaled Said movement is that it is not the only movement. Khaled Said can stand for torture and abuse. Eric Garner can stand for unnecessary police brutality. Sandra bland can stand for the neglect, corruptness, and unfairness of the jail system. As many injustices as take place in this new age of technology, thats how many movements will pop up. WAAKS does not have to encompass every single problem but rather serve to galvanize the youth and justice seekers to take a harder look at their society and find the other problems. The WAAKS and other Egyptian youth movements may not work perfectly but they do work. Especially in a country where freedom of speech is not granted to all, that’s saying something.

In order for the youth, the generation of tomorrow, to defeat the socio-economic and political oppression of the regimes of old, they must embrace the technologies and possibility of the future. The youth must constantly look for ways to stay ahead of the curve. To reinvent itself. The youth must always adapt and continue to fight for a better world by leaving the world of yesterday. The only way to leave the world of yesterday is to live in today and tomorrow. And by fixing our todays, the yesterdays of the future become a source of pride not shame.

Social Movements in the Middle East and North Africa

The people in Middle East and North Africa have been misidentified for many years due to their culture that is defined by Islam. In the articles by Joel Beinin and Joe Stark we see a different perspective, one that doesn’t view these areas as corrupt countries swarming with terrorists. The Middle East and North Africa are in fact full of hard-working citizens who demand democracy and mobilization. These two articles focus on how these areas are much more like our western-civilization than we think. Before reading this article, I was unaware of the activists who are working hard to enrich the lives of people in their country. It is unfortunate that the governments have been unhelpful towards creating human rights organizations. “Most governments in the region have been actively hostile to human rights organizations, particularly when their activities go beyond training and they attempt to monitor violations and hold local authorities accountable” (Storke 106). I also find it extremely frustrating that the citizens in these countries have a very hard time making progress towards a just public and economic society. How do citizens in these areas get punished for running vigorous social movements and who decides to do the punishing? I was intrigued by the constant strive towards the growth of mobilization in the Middle East and North Africa. I was unaware that there were people with such strong desires for upward mobility that they put themselves in high risk situations. I wish that the media would publish more articles on the people who want to make these changes towards a better society in places such as the Middle East and North Africa. It is my understanding that it is our duty as American citizens (who have access to information around the world) to educate ourselves on others social conditions so that we can give positive feedback and possibly come up with helpful solutions. We may eventually be able to (if we haven’t already) help large networks in these areas come up with plans and tactics to enhance their social movements. Although this is my hope Beinin states, “In these situations repression is not the only fuel for contention”. The amount of corruption in these areas fuels people to mobilize, and therefore the motives of these social group leaders may not be exactly what we hope.