problems and purposes
Black Lives Matter is an international counter-movement founded in 2013 by three black activists in Ferguson, United States. After the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a police officer accused of committing the brutality that culminated in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an African-American teenager, BLM engaged the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, which quickly became recognized worldwide.
Inspired by the black civil rights movements in the United States, Black Lives Matter is responsible for organizing campaigns and protests denouncing police violence, the root of its creation; to fighting over broader issues like racial inequality in the US criminal justice system that incarcerates and brutally murders black African American youth.
Black Lives Matter is a decentralized yet global grassroots organization that currently extends beyond the US, UK and Canada, where the movement has its bases. The mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence directed at black communities by the state.
Background history and context
The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc. (US, Canada and UK) begins on July 13, 2013 with three black queer women organizing the African-American community: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi. In that first moment, BLM was born from an online campaign after the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the death of Trayvon Martin, a police officer accused of murdering Trayvon Martin with a shot in the chest while the African American teenager was returning to his home after buying candy. However, it was in the following year that this activism gained prominence after a new sequence of cases of black people killed by police officers in the United States.
Initially the fight was against police brutality, however, the BLM became a worldwide movement for the rights of the black population. The organization ended up impacting the world with its cycles of protests against police violence. Thus, the movement consolidates its mission of “eradicating white supremacy and building local power to intervene in the violence inflicted on black communities”¹ by the State and the police, in addition to having expanded its scope of action that goes beyond the hashtags of social networks, impacting the press, private companies and public authorities through protests, demonstrations and concrete actions that demand attitudes from these actors.
It is important to emphasize the intersectional characteristic of the BLM capable of bringing the dimension of the interaction of social markers to its practice. The organization, by definition, claims to go "beyond the extrajudicial killings of black people by police and vigilantes" by centering the lives of queer and trans black people, people with disabilities, immigrants, people with or without documents and records, women and all black people. who live in the dissident gender spectrum. In addition to the intersectionality at the level of discourse and practice, the BLM is framed by the strong role of young and queer women who play a central role in the movement, as can be seen with the emergence in networks and social media derivative hashtags like #BlackWomenMatter, #BlackGirlsMatter, #BlackQueerLivesMatter, and #BlackTransLivesMatter.
More recently, in May 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement was at the forefront of protests that denounced the death of George Floyd and that took to the streets of major cities in the United States. Floyd, a black American man, died after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee for more than eight minutes on his neck while the man was handcuffed and lying on the ground. Floyd's death by suffocation revolted the black masses in the US and the world, triggering the recent wave of protests amid the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Recently, the US right has generated disinformation about the finances of the BLM and its members. As BLM is an organization that feeds mostly on donations, the right has often sown suspicions about the organization's transparency regarding the use of donations. However, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, a non-profit civil rights organization active in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, has been working “inside and outside the system to heal the past, reimagine the present and invest in the future. of black lives through political change, investment in our communities and a commitment to the arts and culture.”² as they claim.
streaming channels, have frequently promoted campaigns to combat racism on networks and the media and, in some cases, providing money beyond attitudes, a movement that demonstrates that BLM has also shaken culture.
Methods and tools used
Action repertoires: protests, art and culture.
● Waves of protests that give visibility to the issue of racial discrimination around the world. Vigils and organized speeches often intensify when cases of police violence escalate.
● Hashtags derived from the movement are becoming viral on the internet: #BlackWomenMatter, #BlackGirlsMatter, #BlackQueerLivesMatter and #BlackTransLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatters (Black Lives Matter), #BlackArtMatters (Black Art Matters) and #BlackMusicMatters (Black Music Matters), in addition to the classic #BLM #WhatMatters2020 #WeCantBreathe #SayHerName #SayTheirNames.
● Promotion of activities that spread black culture, art and politics around the world. In addition to BLM programs celebrating Black artists and writers, BLM members often work on voter registration and voting campaigns in Black communities.
● Requests for defunding the police.
Influence, results and effects
Peter Eide, a Norwegian MP, held a Black Lives Matter nomination for the Nobel Prize recognizing the organization's battle against racism.
Analysis and lessons learned in Brazil
The policy applied by the public security forces of the US criminal and police state, opposed by Black Lives Matter (BLM), served as a model for other countries in Europe, Africa and Latin America. Reflecting BLM in Brazil is the fight against Brazilian public policies that have led to high homicide rates and incarceration legitimized by the justice system against the black population. This struggle has been carried out by the Brazilian Black Movements that act so that justice and security policies are, on the contrary, in defense and appreciation of black lives.
The fight of the Brazilian penal and police State against drug trafficking often makes the lives of the black population submissive, since this is the population most vulnerable by the current policy to combat drugs associated with crime. The association between black people and crimes is historic in Brazil. The interpretation of security that black citizens have the stereotype of criminality impacts the positive visibility of Afro-Brazilian culture, with Brazil being the country with the largest population of blacks outside Africa. Such an association is also the result of a precariousness of State policies for the protection of black communities. Added to this is the misalignment of other policies, such as health, education, social assistance, among other fundamental policies for overcoming the deep and existing social and racial inequality in a country deeply marked by social hierarchies such as Brazil.
In this perspective, if the BLM contributed to the agenda of racial violence, the Vidas Negras Importam announced by the Black Movements arrives in Brazil with a series of manifestations and repertoires of effusive action of demands that were once repressed. While in the international context, in the midst of the global health crisis resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, the wave of protests by the Black Lives Matter movement confronting the death of George Floyd (a black man asphyxiated by a police officer on May 25 , in the North American city of Minneapolis ) in Brazil, the pandemic context also intensified the claims about the eradication of racism and genocide of the black population. It is also in May 2020 that the lateral articulations against the authoritarianism of institutional politics were denser and a series of mobilizations and protests similar to the BLM movements emerged from yet another case of police violence that resulted in the murder of João Pedro, a 14-year-old teenager shot during a police operation in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro.
In the country, the demonstrations of Vidas Negras Importam took shape in the midst of the recent pandemic, causing the debate on the racial issue to gain space in the press based on several complaints about the impactof the pandemic for the black population. Vidas Negras Importam, when absorbed by the Black Movements, inaugurated a new front in the anti-racist struggle: the Black Coalition for Rights³.
This is how the manifesto “As long as there is racism, there will be no democracy” ⁴ launched on June 12, 2020. Presented by Coalizão, an organization currently composed of more than 150 entities of the Brazilian black movement, this manifesto made a broad call for the democratic sectors, institutions and organizations of Brazilian society to position themselves against the ills highlighted by the racism historically faced by the black population. Signed by several artists, intellectuals and activists, this movement was a clear call for progressive sectors to align themselves in favor of the democratic regime in order to promote a democracy that is truly full, considering racism of paramount importance in democratic disputes and crises. of the 21st century.
Such an increase in the confrontation of racism and authoritarianism was also due to the fact that, as the manifesto denounced, the black population was the segment that most fell ill and died, which increased the queues of unemployed, having the highest rates of poverty and mortality during the pandemic. The Black Coalition for Rights, backed by the Brazilian Law on Access to Information (LAI), asked the Ministry of Health and other state health departments to disclose data on suspected cases, deaths and infections caused by Covid-19 with ethnic-racial, gender and territorial clippings, which, until then, had not been publicized.
This move towards data collection based on race/color is an old agenda of the Black Movements in Brazil. The Brazilian reality that the black population lives in the outskirts, because they have less access to quality healthcare, meant that this group was also the most affected by the consequences of the pandemic. It is in this context that the Coalition went public with the manifesto denouncing that the life of the black community continued to be shrouded in conditions of inequality and precariousness.
Throughout this pandemic context, the anti-racist struggle and the theme of the structural character of Brazilian racism guided the manifestations of Vidas Negras Importam in Brazil, based on the Black Movements. Associated with anti-fascist struggles, anti-racism gained centrality with the large presence of young white people in the protests that broke out in 2020, during the pandemic.
In Brazil, the nuances of Brazilian structural racism and the specific repertoire of Brazilian Black Movement organizations demonstrate that black activism has also been occupying the streets as well as the Americans of the BLM. While the theme of anti-racism, when associated with anti-fascism in the Brazilian streets, also stimulated the debate about the role of white people in the fight against racism.
Events in the United States in the period boosted the discussion on structural racism in Brazil. The search for dissemination of data on health, education and violence organized around racial categories and the understanding that racism is not expressed only in specific episodes, is the result of these mobilizations. The structures that are linked to institutional racism, organizing institutions, are structures that contribute to the increase in inequality and disadvantages that affect the black population. Structural racism is a fundamental part of a historical and sociopolitical process that roots inequalities in these structures, especially in societies with a slave past that renews and conducts discriminatory principles of race in different political contexts.
The Covid-19 pandemic may have limited protests, however, it is undeniable that the topic of racism gained space in the Brazilian press from the streets. The articulated manifestations, mainly in the big cities, aligned with the debate guided by black activists and intellectuals in Brazil and also revealed the malaise with the limits of liberal democracies, which proved incapable of contemplating social demands. The announcement that “As long as there is racism, there will be no democracy” positions Brazil's counterattack based on its resistance, at a time when the country is known internationally as a negative reference for human rights.
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First Version written by Carla Rosário (2022)