The Black Lives Matter movement opposes racism, police violence and discrimination against African Americans in the USA. For news and background information about #BlackLivesMatter or #BLM
Black Lives Matter is currently louder and bigger than ever before. Many are expressing solidarity with the protests. Movement researcher Nicole Hirschfelder says: “Whites can only help the movement if they come to terms with their own racism.
Since the death of George Floyd, people have taken to the streets against racism and police violence in many cities in the USA – not for the first time. But the Black Lives Matter movement is louder and bigger than before.
Nicole Hirschfelder from the University of Tübingen is doing research on the movement. She stresses that the movement has never been gone and can build on existing activist structures. In the recent past, there have been several other cases apart from the death of George Floyd that have shown that black life is not safe in either the public or the most private space, one’s own bedroom. Moreover, the Corona crisis particularly affects the black population. “All this culminates now,” said Hirschfelder.
Support? Yes, but not from above.
At the moment, it is often said that the black movement can only succeed with its demands if the white middle class shows solidarity and supports Black Lives Matter. It is very important that white people see that they can use their privileges, says Hirschfelder: but “not from a helper position from above”.
Support can only make sense if it is based on the conviction that racism harms everyone. It also presupposes that white people deal with their own racism, says Hirschfelder: “Am I able to affirm black life unconditionally? Or does criminal behavior such as looting, which we are now seeing in part in the media, relativize the attitude?”
Hope and skepticism
Asked about the chances of success of the protests, Hirschfelder pleads for cautious hope, but warns against too much optimism: A conviction of the policeman Derek Chauvin, for example, who killed George Floyd, would be a small success, but not yet a success for the movement.
On the one hand, there are currently expressions of solidarity in the social media that are more likely to focus on likes and clicks – and thus exploit the suffering of black people, Hirschfelder said. On the other hand, many of the current expressions of solidarity were also helpful, as they conveyed the importance of talking about racism and tackling it.