Black Lives Matter: Inside The Mind of an Activist
By: Savanah Hernanddez
Beginning in 2012, the “Black Lives Matter” movement, has been a controversial movement that has sought to bring awareness to the social and racial issues the black community faces. It is a subject that has been the center of much debate. In honor of Black History month, the first public debate regarding the BLM movement was held here at Roehampton University.
Joanna Briggs, 21-year old, president of the debate society held a spot as a panelist for the debate, where she brought much insight into the mind of a black lives matter activist. Enlightening individuals on why this movement is important not only to the black community, but to everyone as a whole.
“The Black lives Matter movement is rather necessary” Briggs shares. “The fact that we have to have such a debate highlights that there is a problem that the black community is facing today, and I think that the movement doesn’t just address the black community, it’s trying to help minorities as a whole, and I think that it’s very important”.
With racism and violence within the black community at an all-time high, Briggs shares that she feels that the group has been very beneficial to not only the black community but the world, stating that, “For example, it’s now in the UK. It is clearly doing something, because it was primarily in America, but now it is trickling down into other societies”.
She shares that the spread of the BLM movement into the UK has been a significant step forward for the group. Additionally, the group has been very proactive in the process of raising awareness about the issues the black community faces. However while many, like Briggs, feel that this movement is well needed, others feel it has promoted violence and hatred toward police and within the community.
With the spread of the group have come more protests, and criticism has arisen after many have taken a violent turn. Leading many people to ask the question “are these protests beneficial?”.
Briggs responds to this.
“it is beneficial, but it depends on what kind of aspect you’re looking at the protests from. If it’s the violent aspect, that it sometimes escalates into, then no its not beneficial at all, because its perpetuating the stereotype that is already there. But I don’t think the movement promotes violence, and I think individuals that take part of the movement need to be very weary of how they conduct their protests”.
She continues, using the example of Ferguson
“You can really lose the motive of a campaign. A lot of people, when they join a movement, come with their preconceptions and their personal motives, and I think it undermines the movement and takes away from what the movement is really trying to achieve, however as I stated before the group is becoming international now and I think that is very beneficial for the awareness they are trying to achieve”.
With the rise in controversy around the BLM group, the “All Lives Matter” movement arose. As stated by the name, this group promoted the idea that “all lives matter” and was created to remind people not to overlook the importance of other races. This counter group however, faces its own criticisms with Briggs sharing insight as to why.
“The All Lives Matter campaign is really difficult because, without saying, all lives obviously matter, but the BLM campaign isn’t saying black lives never mattered, its saying that black lives are considered lesser in comparison to white lives. BLM isn’t saying that your life matters less, it’s just reminding people that we do still matter”.
While the spread and awareness of the fact that black lives do matter, is one of the central points the group strives to make, we asked Briggs what she hoped will be achieved in the long-run as a result of the group’s efforts.
“Hopefully just awareness” she shares, “awareness and practicality, because it’s one thing to have a movement but it’s another thing to implement what that movement wants. If we just constantly had these protests and debates and nothing is actually done about the issues, then it’s all talk and no action”.
Alongside the want for action outside of protests, Briggs shares that she hopes a decade from now, “we won’t have to have this discussion because everyone will know that everyone’s life matters, there’s no prejudice and there is no racism anywhere. I don’t think that racism will ever go away, but I think that if it is brought down to a level where it’s not as prevalent as it is now, then I think we will have achieved something”.
Very passionate about the movement, Briggs feels very strongly about enlightening others on the issues prevalent today. Hoping for the overall diminishment of racism and prejudice, she is eager to see the result of the BLM movement within the U.S. and UK, hoping for a positive outcome for the black community worldwide.