In 2013, following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, many social media users used the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Although the hashtag was initially used in response to the perceived injustice of this event, its use quickly spread to other encounters with police officers or citizens that led to the death or mistreatment of black individuals. Of course, there are a host of social problems and inequalities that black Americans disproportionately experience, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement embraces many of these issues as central to its cause. The movement’s website describes how it is “committed to struggling together and to imagining and creating a world free of anti-Blackness, where every Black person has the social, economic, and political power to thrive.”
For your paper, please discuss the role of the American stratification system in instigating the racial-justice movement exemplified by #BlackLivesMatter. Specifically:
What social problems led to the disempowerment of black Americans?
Then, discuss how we can understand the movement in light of the theory of color-blind racism (Bonilla-Silva). What are the major tenets of color-blind racism, and how do they apply to this case?
- Finally, please interpret the movement from Marxist, Weberian, and elite theorist perspectives on inequality (all three, not just one). As you discuss each perspective, briefly summarize the main argument (that applies to the current topic), and then state how it applies to #BlackLivesMatter.