Opinion: Reflecting on 2020 as a year of change

"Black Lives Matter Protest, Seattle WA" by Kelly Kline. Taken on May 30, 2020. Flickr.com, used under its Creative Commons License

“Black Lives Matter Protest, Seattle WA” by Kelly Kline. Taken on May 30, 2020. Flickr.com, used under its Creative Commons License

2020 has been one strange year. We are currently in a pandemic, the United States has elected a new president, and we witnessed  people in America fight alongside the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Black Live Matter has become a global movement against racism and police brutality. Thousands of people from multiple different countries gathered to protest racism and police brutality after the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police.

The Black Lives Matter movement began to rise in July of 2013, 17 months after the death of Trayvon Martin.  

However, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter did not become nationally recognized until 2014, when Michael Brown died by police hands. This caused Blacks and allies to head out to social media and speak up about police brutality in America. 

According to the Black Live Matter website, “The Black Lives Matter Global Network would not be recognized worldwide if it weren’t for the folks in St. Louis and Ferguson who put their bodies on the line day in and day out, and who continue to show up for Black lives”. 

Now, I am pretty sure many of you are well aware of what the Black Live Matter movement is about. With very recent protests, and demonstration happening, it is not uncommon for everyone to be aware of this movement. 

This movement not only gained recognition overnight nationwide, but it also caught the attention of the world. How did it though?

The assemblage theory, from an article by Stephen B. Croft Tabita Moreno Becerra and Daniel M. Sutko, identifies why so many countries ended up in the same social space of a movement that was formed in the United States back in 2013. 

The article aims to discover the forms of social space without assuming to know them and identify the connections and relationships that are significant for the given subject (2011). What this means is that they do not want to jump and make conclusions as to why individuals and groups are drawn into the social spaces.

For example, the Black Lives Matter demonstration and protest could be considered an assemblage because it connects the subject – a human individual or collective – to networks and activities that gathers large groups.

The media that helped the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter get known and recognized throughout the country, can be considered a network that connects the subject to the assemblage. Social media, in this case, has been the networks of technical media – the infrastructure, technology, and media that has surrounded everyone to focus their attention to the #BlackLivesMatter movement (2011).

Social media has allowed #BlackLivesMatter to have a voice and make its message be known throughout the world. These Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and many more media platforms, have allowed #BlackLivesMatter to be known worldwide and has connected this movement to subjects who are or who have been affected by racism and police brutality in some way. 

As Wired has put it, “Social media could summon people to the streets and coordinate their movements in real time. And it could swiftly push back against spurious media narratives with the force of a few thousand retweets.” Social media can help clarify what the movement is about. It stops a false narrative that could be surrounding, in this case, the Black Lives Matter movement. 

If it were not for social media, these demonstrations and protests would not have gotten the recognition they deserve, as fast as they did. 

However, social media is not the only network that has been in place of connecting subjects to the Black Lives Matter assemblage. Social networks have also played a big part in connecting individuals to the Black Live Matter protests, and demonstrations.

Social networks are the populations that surrounds us, and one we are connected to in some ways. Like Croft and colleagues state, “Social networks are the population through which we move and with which we are potentially connected to.” 

For example, I became involved with the Black Lives Matter movement not because of social media, itself, but as well as my social network. In recent years, I had become involved in some activist groups, and began to see new environments and new people. 

Because I began to meet new people and learn more about issues going on in the Black community, I became aware of the assemblages being produced by activist and those connected to the Black Lives Matter movement. This interaction helped me see a different social network (assemblage) than the one I previously had. 

However, none of this would have been possible if not for the subject. The specific elements of subjectivity that are relevant for conceptualizing a subject lived experience of space, according to Croft and colleagues. 

Because the subject is exposed to difference senses of place, territory, and space, they are able to give a meaning to everything they experience in those senses. Then the subject puts a value on them, and they are able to categorize what is important to them, and what is fit of their attention.  

Because Black Lives Matter has gained so many supporters, it is not a surprise that Cori Bush, one of the Black Lives Matter movement founders, won a house seat in Missouri. According to CNN projections, she is now the state’s first Black woman to represent the state in Congress.   

The Black Lives Matter demonstration across the globe happened because of our connection to one another. We have friends who are being directly affected by police brutality and racism. These injustices do not only happen in America, but they also occur around the world. Whether we are using social media, our social networks, or our environment to participate in Black Lives Matter, it is important that we also demonstrate solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters. United we can make a difference in our community and our country. 

As 2020 is coming to an end and 2021 is just around the corner, it is important to remember that a new year does not mean a restart. We need to continue what we started in 2020 and remember that the fight is not over. 

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