The Platform


“Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter!” Throughout the past ten years, this universal chant has been heard around the globe. From the streets of Paris to Rio to Ferguson, cries for racial justice and the end to police brutality have conveyed a desire for a new future, a future free from the issue of discrimination and racism that plague our societies today.

Black Lives Matter, BLM for short, is a global racial justice movement highlighting issues of racism and police brutality against African Americans. While the movement originated in the United States after the deaths of numerous African Americans in police custody, the movement has spread globally, leading to large-scale protests against racial discrimination throughout the world. While the BLM movement has seen massive popularity, many have questioned whether the movement has inspired lasting racial justice. This has raised the crucial question of how much lasting and real change the Black Lives Matter movement has inspired over the past ten years, and what could be considered its greatest successes.

BLM’s primary successes are in raising awareness of police brutality and racial discrimination, as well as in changing the way we protest in the modern era. Both of these examples speak to the overwhelmingly broad and positive effect that BLM has had on our society up to this point.

First, Black Lives Matter has brought large-scale awareness to issues of police brutality and racial discrimination. Before the start of the movement, police brutality against African Americans was increasing, racial discrimination by police forces was becoming more apparent, and protests were only sporadic. Along with that, support for the movement or the idea that America was systemically racist was universally unpopular.

Now, in 2022, this narrative has been completely flipped on its head. The BLM movement has been able to organize protests, raise awareness, and most importantly, fundamentally change the way people view the fight for racial justice.

This change has been most markedly seen in public opinion polls, where according to Monmouth University, over 80% percent of the U.S. population now sees racial discrimination and police brutality as a major issue, and over 60% feel that the BLM movement is justified. Both metrics have increased by over 30% since 2015, indicating a massive change in the way people perceive the movement. The movement was able to raise awareness and truly change the way people think about race in America, a massive win for racial justice in America.

Yet, while the movement made strides at home, its impact globally cannot be understated. In response to the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing protests in the United States, similar movements occurred in over sixty countries across the globe, with Black Lives Matter protests present in every continent except Antarctica.

Black Lives Matter generated international solidarity for the cause, leading to many becoming aware of the movement’s aims and goals, and leading to widespread acceptance of their values. This awareness has also led to tangible change. Hundreds of Confederate statues, each representing a figure associated with slavery or racial discrimination, have been taken down by protestors or governments in response to the protests. Along with that, police forces and city governments have changed many of the ways they operate.

For example, cities have now implemented restrictions on chokeholds to avoid death in custody, and city governments such as Los Angeles have shifted funds away from police departments and into the hands of mental-health professionals and racial justice coalitions. Finally, many cities like Milwaukee have changed the way they intend to educate children, promising to make each school more inclusive, and close racial educational and equity gaps between students. Each of these achievements has done a substantial amount of good, and they all can be attributed to the awareness efforts of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the achievements that each has been able to produce.

Along with the achievements and awareness, the BLM movement has changed the way we protest in the 21st century. The movement has often been characterized as leaderless, without a singular figurehead leading the charge. This is in stark contrast to the larger movements of the past, where noticeable figureheads were always present. The lack of a figurehead has allowed BLM members to feel included and not bogged down ideologically. It has also allowed the movement to spread without being associated with any particular person or identity. Along with that, BLM has been one of the first social movements to effectively use social media to organize protests and outreach. This has shown others that social media can be used to amplify social movements and can be used as a force for organization.

BLM has not only been a success ideologically, but it has also done much work on the grounds of making lasting change. From its awareness campaigns to changing the way we protest, the Black Lives Matter movement has been extraordinarily successful.

Zain Rahman is a student in Northern Virginia. His areas of interest include foreign policy, economics, and philosophy.