Protests Don’t Lead to Change
Without any real plan of action, protests never lead to any real change. While #BlackLivesMatter has been incredibly effective at getting thousands of people together to march or protest, the aftermath of the rallies often results in nothing more than social media buzz. The Atlantic’s Moises Naim recently slammed the recent string of street protests as the “latest manifestation of the dangerous illusion … that street protests based more on social media than sustained political organizing is the way to change society.”
The Community Needs More Than National Discussions
The immediate result of the #BlackLivesMatter protests was the national attention garnered for police brutality and racial disparities in the justice system. The nation was finally talking about a problem that was so often swept under the rug … but that was it. As Naim explained, “Government responses usually amount to little more than rhetorical appeasement, and certainly no major political reforms.” He pointed to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff who “publicly validated the frustrations of those who took to the streets of her country, and promised that changes would be made, but those ‘changes’ have yet to materialize.”
Boycotting Is More Effective
Many leaders have been calling for the Black community to stop focusing on petty social media feuds or hashtag activism and focus their efforts on more effective means such as boycotting institutions that are fighting against their cause. Such tactics that impact another community’s money are vital to getting real change. The Black community has an estimated spending power of more than $1 trillion, which could be used to its advantage when corporations are backing the types of legislation that negatively impact the Black community.
The Media Still Controls Their Narrative
Things have certainly changed since the historic moments when protesting actually had a more substantial impact on politics and future legislation. Today, it is too easy for the mainstream media to control the narrative of protesters and the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole. When the majority of citizens in Ferguson, Missouri, were peaceful protesters, the media focused solely on looters who were terrorizing their own communities. As Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone writes of today’s protests, “Protests can now be ignored because our media has learned how to dismiss them.” Even in the 1960s, the media managed to deliver a blow to the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California, by portraying them as “gun-toting militants hell-bent on killing white people,” Al Jazeera explained back in February.
The Focus Is Too Narrow
The street protests behind the Black Lives Matter movement have a very narrow focus and were sparked under very specific circumstances — when an unarmed Black man is killed by police. The protests, however, have failed to focus on some of the more deeply rooted issues at hand that impact the Black community and ultimately plant the seeds necessary for such tragedies to continue to occur, Al Jazeera’s Deena Guzder explained in an article titled “Black Lives Matter Needs the Black Panthers.”
Lack of Clear Leadership
As much as Black stars love to support the message behind Black Lives Matter, many can’t help but notice the clear lack of a real direction or strong leadership among the social media-driven movement. Oprah Winfrey recently “criticized anti-police brutality protesters suggesting they lack leadership and have failed to articulate clear demands in the way the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s did,” The Washington Postreported in February. She’s absolutely right. As the movement has grown in size, a clear set of leaders has failed to emerge and give the people direction when they need it the most.