In light of the recent tragedies that have occurred around the United States, citizens are taking to the streets, outraged with the reoccurring issues of police brutality and social injustice. This year alone, about 561 people have been killed by the police.
Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with protesting. It’s an act of standing in solidarity, making a physical statement against injustices in our society. Protesting is a way for individuals to be heard and seen in the public eye, demanding justice to be served. However, it’s not enough to just protest if we want to see real, significant changes being made in society.
Recently, I read an article called “Why Street Protests Don’t Work” written by Moisés Naím. Though it was published back in 2014 and is not geared directly towards police brutality, it’s still extremely relevant, probably more than ever.
Naím suggests that the problem with protesting is what happens after we protest. Most people that participate in protests have “no formal affiliation with one another, no clear hierarchy, and no obvious leaders.” For the most part, these protests lead to little to no government response and no major political reforms. She asks: “How can so many extremely motivated people achieve so little?” Answer: “Behind massive street demonstrations there is rarely a well-oiled and more-permanent organization capable of following up on protesters’ demands and undertaking the complex, face-to-face, and dull political work that produces real change in government.”
According to Zeynep Tufekci, “Before the Internet, the tedious work of organizing that was required to circumvent censorship or to organize a protest also helped build infrastructure for decision making and strategies for sustaining momentum. Now movements can rush past that step, often to their own detriment.” You see, protesting and ranting is appealing to Twitter and Facebook. However, it takes more than a few tweets, Facebook statuses, and signs to achieve the change that we need. Ranting on social media and protesting without a real plan of action is not equivalent to activism that effects change.
Protesting and viral hashtags were okay at first, but now we need to take different means of action and start asking serious questions. Being a “social media activist” and a protestor creates a feel-good illusion that weakens true activism needed to make significant changes. We can’t just protest in large numbers when someone dies at the hands of police for two weeks and then let the issue fizzle itself out. We need to start implementing more permanent, political work every day and fully devote ourselves to building stronger, political organizations that form energy and outrage into real public policies.
Police brutality and gun violence happens far too often to continue to do the same tiring routine. I’m tired of shouting #BlackLivesMatter yet nothing is being changed. I’m tired of having to explain how “black on black crime” is different than civilian fatalities by the police. I’m tired of people profiting off of black bodies. EVERY single police/black shooting that was publicized by the media has made a profit off of someone’s life, making us think that our lives can be bought. I’m tired of having to prove the worth of human lives in general.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of just marching and protesting and not seeing any results. I’m ready for real change.
Protesting is a great way to get our voices heard, yes. And this movement has and continues to make great strides in race relations and social issues within the black community. However, it’s not enough to just yell in the streets with signs and speeches without targeting the real work, too. We also need to be engaged in political processes and implement sustainable, political organizing if we really want to change society. The same problems keep reoccurring over and over and over again. It’s time for a different narrative, a different means of action.
Enough is enough. We need more than a movement. We need a revolution.