The Uncomanor
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The Uncomanor

The Future of Black Lives Matter Lies in the Hands of Its Leaders

Illustration by The Uncomanor

The influence that the Black Lives Matter movement imbued upon American society within the last year has been awe-striking. Streets were filled to the brim with protesters and rioters who tore buildings and storefronts to the ground. The news cycle was filled with footage from these public demonstrations, Congress members daintily dancing amidst the controversy, and President Trump making (frequently inappropriate and non-productive) comments on the situation.

This is an important stronghold of the movement to point out: the ability of BLM to make way to the forefront of the US consciousness. Despite an election year and a worldwide pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement was still able to take over our news, community, and political cycles for nearly a year at this point.

The movement even took over social media. #BlackOutTuesday took over Instagram with many posts from big-name figures and teens via nothing but a black square. Although it is generally lauded to have been insignificant in largely accomplishing much, there is one undeniable thing it achieved: forcing white people to examine, or at least consider, the movement.

Black Lives Matter was arguably so powerful it even caused many conservatives behind the ‘Back the Blue’ movement to consider widespread policing reforms, including banning certain chokeholds and other manners of handling crime control. What turned right-leaning and left-leaning moderates away was the lawlessness in places like the ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone’ and in many cities across the country.

This prominence gave the movement a keyhole into the political sphere. However, the future for BLM might not be so sure. Especially relevant is the movement’s history of disappearance. From a white perspective, the Black Lives Matter movement went nearly silent for all but six years from 2014 until 2020. Created following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in 2013 following the shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012, the movement would only reëmerge following a mass shooting in an African American community or, quite frankly, as a tool for the right to target the left.

But will Black Lives Matter return to the relative backburner of the national and world conscious? This could be entirely dependent on a few factors: the movement’s image, its widespread contiguous visibility, and its corporate influence.

Shedding the poor image the movement gained in the summer, such as from autonomous zones like CHAZ/CHOP, will be integral to continuing BLM’s political prosperity. Additionally, avoiding controversies such as one of the organization’s leaders buying a million-dollar mansion with money seemingly out of nowhere (while ironically claiming to be a supporter of Marxist ideology) is going to be key in the movement’s survival.

Similarly important is the movement’s visibility, especially to white folk. If it wants to remain a politically viable force, it cannot go back to being a foggy entity doing minor work in the background or a Twitter account tweeting mildly controversial tweets every month. Admittedly, and in the movement’s downfall, its source of significant publicity hailed from the rioting that occurred amidst protests of the shooting of George Floyd.

To add, avoiding the corporate interference and abuse of the movement is ideal for the movement’s future. However, much of the corporate influence was what helped the movement take over not only the headlines of political magazines but also business papers.

BLM wants to remain in the United States’ headspace following the conviction of Derek Chauvin, which will be seen as the ‘final’ victory for many, especially those who have joined the movement for the trendiness of it. How Black Lives Matter addresses this could be the difference between the end of the movement’s influence on American politics or just the beginning.

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Gabe Sullivan

Gabe Sullivan

Gabe Sullivan is a politics-enthusiast and the Editor-in-Chief of The Uncomanor.