Lessons learned from the post-George Floyd protests

know about Lessons learned from the post-George Floyd protests

Two years have passed since largest protests in US history erupted across the country after George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. There are many reasons why these protests were different from previous waves of activism against systemic racism: Most of the country was reeling from more than 2 months of stay-at-home orders due to the COVID pandemic, Responses to protests from President Trump and law enforcement across the country created an outrage multiplier., and participation in these demonstrations included a much more diverse group of protesters. Although much has been written about the scope and scale of the protests during this unprecedented event peaceful activism periodmuch less is known about what led to the greater diversity of participants who joined these protests.

in a new article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesStella Rouse and I asked why the post-George Floyd protests were so much larger and more diverse than previous waves of activism in the US. Like recent studies of intersectionality of large-scale protestsWe focus on what motivated participants to join by analyzing data collected from a random sample of activists who participated in protests focused on racial justice in the summer of 2020.

Unsurprisingly, we found that nearly all of those who participated in these protests (94%) reported racial justice and/or police brutality/Black Lives Matter as a reason for joining the crowds in the streets. In addition to these anti-racist motivations, protesters reported many other reasons for participating. About a third of respondents also reported being motivated by women’s rights (39%), LGBTQ rights (36%), or immigration rights (29%) to join the protests.

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Looking at what explains who selected these other motivations, we find that they were tied to the personal identities of the participants. In particular, women reported that they were also motivated to join reproductive rights and women’s rights protests, people who identify as LGBTQ+ were motivated by LBGTQ rights, and people who identify as Latino/a were motivated by immigration rights. Based on what we know about how numerous political and social movement organizations called for solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement after the murder of George Floyd, it is likely that many who joined were triggered by calls to mobilize from a variety of groups. These collective efforts, coupled with the identity-based motivations and moral impact of witnessing the murder of an unarmed black man by a police officer on social media, provided a dynamic catalyst for the engagement of race, gender, sexual orientation, and other prominent identities.

In other words, this moment not only had relevance to people concerned with racial justice, but also mobilized people who felt connected to a host of other overlapping intersectional issues that were aligned with their personal subgroup identities connected to their gender, sexuality. orientation, race and/or ethnicity. As a result, these mass mobilizations against systemic racism drew a large crowd that included people with multiple identities who interacted to affirm group similarities.

This moment in the fight against systemic racism in the US provides important insights into how to get critical mass on the streets that has the potential to motivate further social change. By combining solidarity, identity, and moral shock, the movement was able to mobilize the masses and sustain their engagement throughout the summer of 2020. Movements that intend to employ external tactics such as protest would be wise to learn from these mobilization strategies to attract a wide audience. base of support and commitment.

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The question that remains is how to translate such a diverse and prolonged mass mobilization into social change. Unfortunately, the effects of the protests in the summer of 2020 have been relatively disappointing so far, producing mainly what Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor calls “the fruit within reach of symbolic transformation.Systemic racism is one of a range of progressive priorities that have highlighted the great distance that must be traveled between protest and legislation or other forms of policy making. Once the masses are mobilized to engage in sustained activism, much remains to be learned about how to channel the outrage in the streets into lasting social and political change. However, there is no question that opportunities increase substantially when protests are large, persistent, and include crowds that are diverse enough to be representative of the broader American public.