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The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter first appears, sparking a movement

The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter first appears, sparking a movement

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Outraged and saddened after the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the Florida man who killed a Black teenager in 2012, Oakland, California resident Alicia Garza posts a message on Facebook on July 13, 2013. Her post contains the phrase "Black lives matter," which soon becomes a rallying cry and a movement throughout the United States and around the world.

Garza said she felt "a deep sense of grief" after Zimmerman was acquitted. She was further saddened to note that many people appeared to blame the victim, Trayvon Martin, and not the "disease" of racism. Patrice Cullors, a Los Angeles community organizer and friend of Garza, read her post and replied with the first instance of #BlackLivesMatter.

As the hashtag became popular on Facebook and Twitter, Garza, Cullors and fellow activist Opal Tometi built a network of community organizers and racial justice activists using the name Black Lives Matter. The phrase and the hashtag were then quickly adopted by grassroots activists and protests all across the country, particularly after the subsequent killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and a number of other African Americans at the hands of police officers or would-be vigilantes like Zimmerman.

Simple and clear in its demand for Black dignity, the phrase became one of the major symbols of the protests that erupted after Brown's killing in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. While polling showed that a majority of Americans disapproved of the Black Lives Matter movement when it first began, in the years following, support for its central arguments grew.

After the May 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis unleashed a nationwide protest movement against police brutality and racism, support for the Black Lives Matter movement increased by a 28-point margin in two weeks—almost as much as it had in the preceding two years, according to the New York Times.

Perhaps more than any other phrase since “Black Power,” “Black Lives Matter” became a singular rallying cry for the American and global racial justice movements.

READ MORE: Black History Milestones: Timeline

WATCH: Fight the Power: The Movements that Changed America, premieres Saturday, June 19 at 8/7c on The HISTORY® Channel.

How Black Lives Matter can move beyond a hashtag

As the Democrat candidates fiercely compete for the black vote in the hopes of winning the upcoming South Carolina primary, one voice has been noticeably absent from the fray.

Black Lives Matter, which dominated the discourse on race in America last year, seems to have completely fallen off the radar in recent weeks and months. The silence has made some question the relevance, staying power, and vitality of this pivotal movement.

As a movement that sprung to life in the form of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter following the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, few would have anticipated its rise to prominence as activists in the struggle for equality. Few understood the organizing and galvanizing impact that Black Twitter can have, and so Black Lives Matter was born and focused on marches and protests in 2014 to highlight racial inequalities in America, and in 2015 they confronted presidential candidates to find out how they intended to combat racial injustices and systemic oppression.

And in 2015, the debate between “black lives matter” and “all lives matter” dominated national conversation, with presidential candidates quickly learning the lesson that “all lives matter” was an inadequate position if they wanted to win the black vote. By the end of 2015, Black Lives Matter decided to organize itself into a viable entity and not just a rag-tag group of passionate African-Americans on social media who were fully committed towards working to advance black life. A website was created, they started releasing statements on issues, and took up the position of not endorsing a presidential candidate or even officially engaging in politics.

BLM wanted to remain apolitical and focus on the power of community organizing, and structured and peaceful civil disobedience to bring about change in the black community and America at large. And while this approach may resonate inside the black community, it has left many other Americans scratching their head. In early 2016, as we head towards a pivotal election year, BLM has almost become a non-factor in one of the most racially divisive presidential campaigns in modern memory.

It seems as though the movement has disappeared, and many people wonder if the future of Black Lives Matter will more resemble the Occupy Wall Street or of the Tea Party movement.

It seems as though the movement has disappeared, and many people wonder if the future of Black Lives Matter will more resemble the Occupy Wall Street or of the Tea Party movement. Occupy Wall Street now dominates the annals of history, and the Tea Party movement is dominating the presidential race. Which way will BLM go, or is there another path entirely to pursue?

A recent article in The Nation, “A Concrete Plan to Make Black Lives Matter,” attempts to confront this recent dilemma by discussing how an organization called the Agenda to Build Black Futures has released a comprehensive agenda that lays out potential road maps for combatting issues that disproportionately harm black communities. Yet the Agenda to Build Black Futures is not BLM. They may fall under the umbrella of the Black Lives Matter movement itself, which can be almost any organization that supports the message #BlackLivesMatter, but they are not part of the actual organization called Black Lives Matter.

To some, the creation of the Agenda to Build Black Futures could be viewed as a successful progression of the Black Lives Matter movement, since it has spawned the creation of an organization that intends to fight for the principles of the movement. And to others, it will be seen as a confusing setback for the movement because this movement has been dominated by one name Black Lives Matter, and any other name will be viewed as an unwanted distraction.

Activist, Twitter personality, and Baltimore mayoral candidate DeRay McKesson’s Campaign Zero is another one of these organizations that has either emerged or splintered off from Black Lives Matter. Campaign Zero encouraged organizing, civil disobedience, and laying out an agenda or policy proposals like BLM and other organizations within the Black Lives Matter movement, but they also encouraged becoming political and working with politicians to create the necessary change in black communities. McKesson’s decision to run for mayor demonstrates the organization’s ideological commitment towards political engagement.

Again this could be viewed as a victory for the Black Lives Matter movement but not for BLM the organization. As an African-American, the growth of these new organizations and campaigns from the Black Lives Matter movement are both encouraging and frustrating.

Without clear messaging and engagement in the daily political discourse, it is easy for others to view the movement as becoming a dwindling force in American politics and society. It is easier to perceive BLM and the Black Lives Matter movement as on the cusp of fading away like Occupy Wall Street instead of growing in political importance like the Tea Party, but I’d venture to say that the Black Lives Matter movement, and the many organizations that have emerged from it, intends to follow neither of those paths.

The Black Lives Matter movement presently appears to be reminiscent of the 1960s civil rights movement, where there were numerous factions all simultaneously competing with one another while also striving together collectively to end racial oppression in America including ending segregation, increasing education opportunities, removing voting restrictions and more for African Americans. That time period is more known for the black leaders who defined it such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, and not for any particular organization that controlled it. Yet it is also known for the many different organizations that played a significant role in creating change and advocating for black advancement such as the NAACP, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and even militant groups such as the Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam.

Without clear messaging and engagement in the daily political discourse it is easy for others to view the movement as becoming a dwindling force in American politics and society.

The Black Lives Matter movement seems to be attempting to traverse the path of pioneering African-American civil rights trailblazers of yesteryear, so viewing the movement along an Occupy vs Tea Party spectrum, which is dominated by mostly white voices, might be an inadequate comparison. However, the problem with attempting to emulate previous successes is that you may overlook some of the progress brought on by the success. In the case of BLM and some of the other groups that have emerged from the Black Lives Matter movement, this inclination to remain apolitical and not engage with politics appears to be one of such flaws.

African-Americans have always been a disenfranchised group of people in America, and they have never had a government that worked on their behalf. There have always been numerous obstacles preventing blacks from voting or obtaining elected office. Therefore, an apolitical ideology was always the norm. It is impossible to have a political organization when the society in which you live in actively prevents you from participating in the political process.

African-Americans and African-American organizations have a long history of being apolitical, but this was not because disengaging from politics was the best way to meet our goals. It was because the reality of our forced political disengagement required us to pursue other methods for engaging in society and fighting for civil rights.

In recent years, the easy access to the Internet and social media, and the prevalence of digital cameras on our mobile phones has made it easier for African-Americans to communicate across the country and capture instances of abuse. Yet taking the movement beyond the cyber and even in-person organizing structure, and into the political realm is the next necessary step to build upon the progress of previous generations.

Despite the many concerns about the viability of the Black Lives Matter movement, it most certainly is not going away anytime soon, but it may resemble a movement from the 1960s instead of the 2000s. However, for it to have the impact it desires, it can still resemble a modern-day civil rights movement, but it will need to break free of its apolitical ideology, and fervently engage in this incredibly important presidential election.

#BlackLivesMatter: A Look into the Movement's History

Beck's "labeled bubbles" theory may be ground in reality. A Pew Research Center survey released Monday finds "significant differences" in the way black and white adults use social media to share and interact with race-related content. A Pew analysis of 995 million tweets over a 15-month period - from January 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016 - reveals that events from Baltimore, to Charleston, South Carolina, to Dallas "often serve as a catalyst for social media conversations about race" that go beyond just hashtag activism.

The conservative backlash to Beck's new-found position was immediate. Leading sites, Breitbart News and The Drudge Report, lambasted Beck's comments, which were made just hours before riots in Milwaukee following the fatal shooting of Sylville K. Smith at the hands of police.

He's just so morally superior to us.

— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) August 14, 2016

What a TOOL
Glenn Beck Pandered to Black Lives Matter Just Prior to #Milwaukee Riot

— Linda Suhler, Ph.D. (@LindaSuhler) August 14, 2016

"While Glenn Beck would like people to believe he’s insightful, critics of Black Lives Matter don’t need his hectoring," wrote Breitbart's Lee Stranahan.

Some conservatives, though, supported Beck's position. Ben Howe, a RedState contributing editor and like Beck, a notable anti-Trump conservative, applauded Beck for "recognizing that Black lives Matter as a slogan is not necessarily an exclusionary statement.” He went on to criticize Breitbart and others for their "insincere outrage" that, he says, was indicative of a larger trend in this election year of "putting business ahead of debate."

"Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Breitbart News and the Drudge Report are withering away any credibility they may have once had in the last months of this campaign," Howe told NBC News. "Glenn has looked at the issues facing black Americans and re-thought his opinions the others [pundits] are just in the profit-making business of feeding their audience whatever they want to hear."

He added that the disdain many conservatives hold for the Black Lives Matter movement is largely a product of the base's own doing, “This election has made a lot of us [conservatives] realize that ignoring an element within our ranks for too long has become a form for enabling it.”

While Beck came under attack by conservatives, supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement had mixed feelings.

I have no clue what to offer about #GlennBeck except a Jay-Z line: "We don't believe you - You need more people".

— Wade Davis II (@Wade_Davis28) August 15, 2016

Shaun King, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist who has been targeted by Beck for his work, welcomed Beck's comments, if not with caveats.

"As someone who has been targeted and attacked repeatedly by Glenn Beck, I struggle to take his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement seriously," King told NBC News. "Nonetheless, it appears he has at least grown to understand why we exist, even if he doesn't actually support the movement in any meaningful ways."

The Role of Social Media in Black Lives Matter

Throughout the 21 st century, social media has demonstrated an ever-growing potential to promote, share, and engage the largest of audiences with everything from the latest fashion trends to the most critical of socio-economic issues. Contrary to traditional media outlets, the wide variety of social media platforms that are available to us allow everyday people to post the reality of what they experience in the real time that they experience it, through lenses that are unfiltered and free from censorship. Thus, when pairing this globally accessible platform with the raw experiences of racism that are being witnessed today, it is easy to recognise the unique value that social media holds as a news source.

The BLM movement has relied on the social capital of platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, in order to spread its message

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement began online when the co-founder Alicia Garzia shared the hashtag ‘#BlackLivesMatter’ following the murder of a young black boy named Trayvon Martin in 2013. By taking its initial stance on social media, the BLM movement has relied on the social capital of platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, in order to spread its message. Today, the BLM movement, following the tragic murder of George Floyd, is now a global human rights movement, with protests taking place daily in all 50 states of America, as well as in over 20 countries worldwide.

In the past few weeks, countless eyewitness accounts of police brutality and racism have surfaced on social media in the form of videos and images that have been captured on mobile phones. The circulation of such evidence has gathered immense support on sites such as Instagram and Twitter, with each share and repost bringing in hundreds of views every hour. With this level of engagement being unique to social media, it is difficult to interpret the true scale of the movement and its impact through mainstream media outlets. This is especially important with regards to the impression of protests that the public have since been gathering. On social platforms such as Twitter, under #blacklivesmatter, users can now see a multitude of examples of corrupt policing, as well as many instances of unnecessary force being used against peaceful protesters. Despite this, the general presentation by traditional media is one which all too often fails to accurately depict a suitable balance of evidence.

Social media is undoubtedly more favoured as a news source among the younger generations

Social media is undoubtedly more favoured as a news source among the younger generations whilst older generations tend to favour the more traditional sources of media for their updates. However, it is vital to recognise that, in a world where racism is still such a prevalent issue, prejudice may only ever be accurately depicted by those who have witnessed and/or experienced it. Therefore, the unfiltered freedom of social media is ultimately the most effective source when depicting the racism that exists today.

Alice Gawthrop

We are used to using social media to share pictures of ourselves holding our dissertations and stories of our pets being cute, but lately, social media has once again revealed its capacity for more than just posting pretty pictures.

Black Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white Americans

It is somewhat interesting but mainly upsetting to imagine what would have happened to the memory of George Floyd if we did not have social media. The story might have been picked up by a few local news outlets, but it is quite likely that interest would have faded quickly, and George Floyd would have probably become just another in a long list of forgotten black people in America killed unjustly at the hands of the police. Black Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white Americans, and the majority of the victims of racialised police brutality do not hold the world’s attention for this long, or even hold it at all.

Social media has changed that narrative.

Footage of George Floyd’s murder was captured by a bystander and went viral on Facebook. While it might be tempting to say this was a good thing, as it raised awareness and caught the attention of people who until now believed that racism was a thing of the past, it is not that simple. As Kemi Alemoru of gal-dem writes, such videos can be traumatising for black people. Alemoru raises extremely important points both about the effect of these videos on black people’s mental health, and the capacity for them to embolden racists who see such videos as trophies or proof that they can treat black people how they want and get away with it.

Social media has provided people with a platform to fill in the gaps in mainstream narratives

The sharing of actual footage of murder, therefore, is perhaps not something we should be encouraging. Nonetheless, social media more widely has been used to help combat stories in mainstream media that may miss out key details. Many news reports wrote about how the George Floyd protests descended into riots, with looters and arsonists hijacking the movement. It was left to Twitter users to create threads with videos which showed police inciting violence at otherwise peaceful protests. Social media has provided people with a platform to fill in the gaps in mainstream narratives which, at least initially, reduced the protesters to ‘looters’ and mentioned violent confrontations with police while not offering any details.

Furthermore, social media has become a place to share resources, petitions and links for donations on a huge scale. While official news outlets may share (often sparse) details of such events, they often fail to offer meaningful solutions. It can be easy, particularly for white people, to fall into the trap – to read such stories and think, ‘Oh, that’s sad. If only there was something I could do. Luckily I’m not racist!’ then move on with their day. Social media offers a platform for people to counter this. People have been using their platforms, whatever the size, to compile lists of petitions, anti-racism reading lists, lists of organisations to support, easy-to-understand explanations of concepts like white privilege or prison abolition.

Kate, an English student, said, ‘I don’t watch the news often enough, so I don’t think I would have known the full extent of the circumstances around George Floyd’s death without social media. It has served to educate me on the wider history of the Black Lives Matter movement, and on my own privilege.’

The real world implications of using social media to this end are tangible. With the spread of resource lists and encouragement for people, especially white people, to take the time to educate themselves on racism, sales of anti-racist books have surged on Amazon. Reni Eddo-Lodge, author of Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, took to Twitter to urge people to match their purchase of the book with a donation to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, or to borrow a copy of the book if possible and donate what they would have spent on it. She wrote, ‘This book financially transformed my life and I really don’t like the idea of personally profiting every time a video of a black person’s death goes viral.’

There is a clear chain of progression, from social media response to protest mobilisation to legal action, that suggests the power of social media is not to be underestimated

Social media has also been critical in organising protests. In America, six teenage girls met on Twitter and created an Instagram account called ‘teens.4.equality’ which they used to organise a Black Lives Matter protest in Nashville. The account has already amassed over 14,000 followers, while the protest was attended by 10,000 people. Without social media platforms to amplify their voices, mobilising such a huge number of people would have been infinitely harder.

The protests themselves also brought real results: Derek Chauvin’s charge has been elevated to second-degree murder, and the other officers present have been charged with aiding and abetting. There is a clear chain of progression, from social media response to protest mobilisation to legal action, that suggests the power of social media is not to be underestimated, either as a news source or a platform for activism.

That is not to say that social media is the only platform for activism, nor is it a perfect one. As much as there are benefits to it, it also has its pit falls – the scope for fake news and the problem of performative activism, to name just two.

It is important to engage with real life conversations about these topics as well as virtual ones

When we restrict our ‘activism’ to social media, it is in danger of being a trend that we forget about at the end of the news cycle. Social media provides a good starting point, a place to listen to black voices directly, a place to find resources. But it is also an echo chamber. It is likely that when you post a story about systemic racism and white privilege on your Instagram, the people who are seeing it are your friends, who probably already share your values and beliefs. Certainly, once you have uploaded a few such stories and set a precedent, the people who follow you that do not already have an interest in learning about racism will simply stop looking at your stories, choosing to turn a blind eye. There is a good chance you are mainly reaching people who already agree with you, and while they will still benefit from exposure to more resources, articles and petitions, it is important to engage with real life conversations about these topics as well as virtual ones. It is important to talk to the people who do not already agree with you, whether that is in your family or in your wider social circles.

Thanks to platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, global support has been mobilised. Activism has never been so easy – it is possible to sign petitions, donate money and share resources with a few clicks. The real work will be in making sure this is not just a virtual trend we engage with for a week or two, but an ongoing change we make in our day-to-day lives.

Opinion: If #LoveWins, why are brands silent on #BlackLivesMatter?

When the Supreme Court granted marriage equality last week, the Internet filled with rainbows and brands rushed to join the #LoveWins campaign for what was likely the most celebratory Gay Pride weekend in history, and for good reason.

Social media platforms didn’t waste a second. Twitter added a rainbow-striped heart to the hashtag #LoveWins while Facebook created a rainbow-hued profile maker. Google displayed a special graphic for searches on “marriage equality,” and brands draped their logos with rainbow flags in proud displays of solidarity with the movement.

Meanwhile, in Charleston, South Carolina, an equally historic moment was playing out with fewer calls to action from corporate America.

I watched in awe as the President of the United States led thousands of mourners, and an audience of millions, in singing “Amazing Grace” — practically a Negro spiritual — while delivering the eulogy for murdered state senator Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was gunned down alongside eight of his congregants by a white supremacist.

In his eloquent tribute, President Obama talked about the roots of lingering racism in America and why faith, and the church, is so integral to the lives of many African Americans.

The poignant scene, as well as the gruesome massacre that preceded it, took place in the very same state where just a couple months earlier a white police officer was filmed shooting and killing an unarmed black man in the back as he ran away following a traffic stop.

Charleston. Ferguson. Baltimore. Staten Island. Chicago. All across America, countless black lives have been lost, sparking the #BlackLivesMatter movement to broaden conversations around “the ways in which black people are intentionally left powerless at the hands of the state,” according to the website.

So why aren’t brands as willing to support #BlackLivesMatter in the same way they were with #LoveWins?

Companies such as Walmart and Target did take some action by vowing to stop selling Confederate flag merchandise. And in another reaction to public bigotry, NBCUniversal recently took its own stand by firing Donald Trump after he made racist remarks about Mexican immigrants.

While these actions were lauded by the press and across social media, they remain isolated examples unaffiliated with a larger movement. As Starbucks discovered earlier this year, socially conscious campaigns can be tricky waters to navigate, especially when they concern race. The coffee chain was ridiculed by media outlets for attempting to spark a dialogue on race relations with its “Race Together” initiative.

As a communications professional, I know firsthand the impact brands have in amplifying social change, so I can’t help but wonder why there hasn’t been more vocal support of the black community in light of these times.

Ok, USA. #LoveWins, I get it, good for you for upholding human rights. Could you now have a similar reaction to #BlackLivesMatter? Plz.

— Maiju (@mayusteapot) June 30, 2015

You can’t be happy about #LoveWins and then completely ignore what’s going on in #BlackLivesMatter because it’s the same fight

— Mel Maxson (@melmaxson) June 28, 2015

It’s a great day to be gay, but still not okay to be black. We’re marching in place. #LoveWins #BlackLivesMatter #MarriageEquaility — reggie mobley (@doctorfate77) June 26, 2015

Dr. Janée N. Burkhalter, associate professor of marketing at Saint Joseph’s University’s Haub School of Business, put it in perspective this way: African Americans have a branding problem.

“One reason marketers might be willing to risk an association with #LoveWins rather than #BlackLivesMatter is the simple fact that people like to talk about love. It’s less scary than talking about death or what it’s like to walk around and be afraid that your life is potentially at risk.”

“There’s been an erasure of black achievements and contributions to American culture beyond entertainment,” Burkhalter continued. “People don’t know that African Americans are doctors, PhDs, scientists, inventors and engineers. If they don’t know that we help, or perceive us to make no contributions to society, then why should we matter?”

The racist backlash that arose on YouTube following Cheerios’ “Just Checking” ad, which featured a mixed-race family, is representative of how people in America still struggle with the topic of race and the place that African Americans have in society.

Following #LoveWins, Darnell Moore, senior editor of Mic, wrote: “I refuse to take pride in a ‘movement’ singularly invested in gay liberation while black and brown folk continue to die at the hands of the state and white vigilantes. …[Not] while white LGBTQ people refuse to confront the anti-black racism within their liberal communities. Not while marriage equality work can amass more money than programming for trans women of color and LGBTQ youth. Not while undocumented LGBTQ people continue to be detained and abused by the state. Not while I must daily argue for the mattering of black lives.”

At its core, #LoveWins celebrates the triumph of acceptance over intolerance. It’s a beautiful demonstration of our potential for progress when we collectively stand against any form of divisiveness. Similarly, #BlackLivesMatter deserves our support because we need to change how we talk about race in this country. Lives are depending on it.


Hashtags were created by Chris Messina, former Google developer, in 2007. [11] He wanted to create a platform where people can have organized conversations. This platform would be easy to access on a phone and easy to use. His goal was to have an open source where people would be encouraged to express their opinions freely on what they thought over the topic. [11] His vision can now be seen through hashtag activism.

The oldest known mention of the term is from The Guardian in 2011, where it was mentioned in context to describe Occupy Wall Street protests. [12] The hashtag was used as means to coordinate conversation online, find supporters, and arrange spontaneous protests. [13] Since then, the term is used to refer to the use of hashtags on multiple social media platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr. There has been a shift among activists to participate in interactive communication on the Internet. [6]

The following notable examples are organized by categories: human rights, awareness, political, and trends.

Anti-discrimination Edit

#BlackLivesMatter Edit

The Black Lives Matter movement calls for an end to police brutality and the killings of African-Americans in the U.S. The #BlackLivesMatter hashtag was first started by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi as a response to the trial and later acquittal of George Zimmerman who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. [14] The hashtag saw a revival in 2014, after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and after a grand jury did not indict police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner. [15]

#IStandWithAhmed Edit

Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great.

IstandwithAhmed: In 2015, a teenage student named Ahmed Mohamed was arrested at his high school in Irving, Texas after his teacher mistook his reassembled clock for a bomb. Ultimately, he was not convicted of any crimes, but he was suspended from school. Shortly after his story hit the news, a tech blogger named Anil Dash tweeted a picture of Ahmed being arrested in his NASA T-shirt along with the "#IstandwithAhmed." His tweet went viral and drew accusations of racism and Islamophobia against the school. It sparked an online movement where many individuals, including scientists and engineers, tweeted their support for Ahmed under the same hashtag.

#TakeAKnee Edit

#TakeAknee has been a movement since 2016 and was created with the intention of calling attention to the police brutality and racial inequality taking place in America. [17] This movement was enacted primarily by NFL athletes, most notably Colin Kaepernick, through kneeling for the duration of the national anthem this act has stirred significant controversy because it is interpreted by nationalists as being a disrespectful act that insults the American flag, veterans, and the values the flag represents. This movement ultimately led to #BoycottNFL and controversy that resulted in the NFL ban requiring players to stand for the national anthem, or stay in the locker room. [18] [19] #TakeAKnee is often known as “the U.S. National Anthem Protest”, and is often compared to protests during the civil rights era, lending to a chain of protests led by athletes in different sports. [20] While the police brutality being faced by African Americans was being protested, white American athletes were also seen taking a knee. [21] As a whole, the #TakeAKnee movement created controversy questioning the legal and constitutional rights of individuals and their ability to protest the U.S. National Anthem. [22] [23]

#MyAsianAmericanStory Edit

In August 2015, " a 15-year-old high student named Jason Fong created #MyAsianAmericanStory to highlight immigration stories of Asian Americans after presidential candidate Jeb Bush made a remark about Asian people and their "anchor babies." [24] [25] Fong stated that he started the hashtag to show that "Asian-Americans are part of the American narrative." [26] Users of the tag tweeted about their diverse family immigration histories and encounters with racism. [27] Fong said he was inspired to start #MyAsianAmericanStory in part by hashtags such as #BlackLivesMatter and participated in other hashtag campaigns such as #Asians4BlackLives in order to show his support for dismantling “a broken system that protects police misconduct.” [24]

#thisis2016 Edit

In October 2016, following an anti-Asian incident in New York City and the subsequent open letter to the victim from Michael Luo, The New York Times released a video entitled "#thisis2016: Asian-Americans Respond". [28] The video featured Asian Americans who had experienced racism. [29] #thisis2016 subsequently emerged as a hashtag to highlight racism Asian Americans faced. [30] Eventually, #BrownAsiansExist came to prominence following an open letter written to The New York Times expressing their disappointment in the lack of South and Southeast Asian Americans in their "#thisis2016" video. [31] #BrownAsiansExist more broadly highlights the erasure of South Asian and Southeast Asian Americans in the American media's portrayal of Asian Americans. [32]

#OscarsSoWhite Edit

#OscarSoWhite is a hashtag campaign started by managing editor April Reign and was sparked by the Oscars nominees in 2016. [33] All of the 20 actors nominated for lead and supporting actor categories were white, despite multiple films that year starring African American leads that had received critics' prizes and guild awards. [34] The campaign sparked a conversation about diversity, representation, and racism in the film industry. [35] The movement is connected to causing enough external pressure to significantly change the racial composition of Academy membership. [36] Following the peak of the hashtag's popularity, the Academy instated 41% minority voters and 46% female voters. [37] Production companies felt the pressure as well, and subsequently diversified their casting and staffing decisions as well, hiring Ava Duvernay, an African-American female director, to head the production of A Wrinkle in Time and hiring non-white actors in the traditionally white Star Wars series. [38]

#DeafTalent Edit

#DeafTalent is a hashtag used to highlight through social media the capabilities of the deaf and hard of hearing community. Prior to the hashtag's emergence, in the creative industry, hearing actors had been cast in deaf roles. The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia wrote, "In response to this, the social media hashtags #DeafTalent and #POCDeafTalent were created. The hashtags, while originally used to point out problematic portrayals of deaf characters and sign language in the media, are now also used to celebrate the wide breadth and multiplicity of deaf actors, artists, and other talent in the world." [39]

Women's rights Edit

#YesAllWomen Edit

YesAllWomen is a Twitter hashtag and social media campaign in which users share examples or stories of misogyny and violence against women. [40] #YesAllWomen was created in reaction to another hashtag #NotAllMen, to express that all women are affected by sexism and harassment, even though not all men are sexist. The hashtag quickly became used by women throughout social media to share their experiences of misogyny and sexism. [41] [42] [43] [44] [45] [46] [47] [48] The hashtag was popular in May 2014 surrounding discussions of the 2014 Isla Vista killings. [49] [50] [51]

#ShoutYourAbortion Edit

#ShoutYourAbortion is a hashtag and social media campaign used on Twitter that encourages women who have experience with abortion to break the silence surrounding it. [52] [53] [54] The hashtag was created by American writer Lindy West and friends Amelia Bonow and Kimberly Morrison in response to the US House of Representatives efforts to defund Planned Parenthood following the Planned Parenthood 2015 undercover videos controversy. [55] [56] [57] [58] [59]

#ilooklikeanengineer Edit

In August 2015, the #ilooklikeanengineer campaign started. The movement was started by Isis Anchalee to promote discussion of gender issues. [60] Anchalee created the hashtag in response to backlash regarding her face being featured in an ad campaign for the company she works for. One year after the creation of #ilooklikeanengineer 250,000 people had used the hashtag. [61] [62]

#MeToo Edit

#MeToo is a Twitter hashtag that raises awareness about sexual assault by encouraging survivors to share their stories. [63] The hashtag was initially first used in 2007 by Tarana Burke [64] but was later popularized and brought to the attention of the media on October 15, 2017, when Alyssa Milano, using Twitter, encouraged individuals [65] to speak up about their experience with assault and say 'Me Too'. [66] Initially meant to simply raise awareness but has developed into a movement and as of October 2018, the hashtag has been used 19 million times. [67] The movement has sparked many other movements like #HowIWillChange [68] and has also led to certain punishments towards the perpetrators. [66] As a reaction, the #HimToo hashtag was created. It that refers to the social media campaign for false rape allegation.

#MosqueMeToo Edit

In February 2018, the Mosque Me Too movement started, following the Me Too movement which gained worldwide prominence in October 2017 and the following months. Muslim women started sharing their experiences of sexual abuse at Muslim holy sites and on pilgrimages such as Hajj, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, using the hashtag #MosqueMeToo. [69] [70] [71]

#WomensMarch Edit

On January 21, 2017, an estimated 2.6 million individuals marched around the world in response to the rhetoric of newly-elected President Donald Trump. [72] [73] The march was organized primarily online through Facebook. [74] Now occurring annually, the goal of the Women's March is to raise awareness and advocates for human rights through peaceful protest. [75]

Similar to other hashtag movements, #WomensMarch has an online presence. The movement has a Facebook page that is active, verified under the name Women's March, that was created on November 20, 2016. [76] As of April 2, 2019 the page is liked by over 800,000 individuals and has a following of more than 850,000 users. [76] Outside of the official page, there are multiple pages defined by geographic region including but not limited to Women's March on Connecticut, Women's March on San Diego, and Women's March Milan. [77] [78] [79] In addition to Facebook, the Women's March Movement has an active profile on Instagram and as of April 2019 the page has 1.2 million followers. [80]

#EleNão Edit

On September 19, 2018, the Ele Não movement ("Ele Não" is Portuguese for "not him"), also known as the protests against Jair Bolsonaro, were demonstrations led by women which took place in several regions of Brazil and the world. The main goal was to protest against Bolsonaro and his presidential campaign and his sexist declarations. [81] [82] [83] [84]

Other examples Edit

A 2012 Twitter discussion among women working in games, collated under the hashtag #1reasonwhy, indicated that sexist practices such as the oversexualization of female video game characters, workplace harassment and unequal pay for men and women were common in the games industry. [85] [86] [87]

The hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick was initiated by Suey Park and Juliet Shen in December 2013 on Twitter. [88] Suey Park is a freelance writer who is most known for her Twitter campaign to cancel the Colbert Show, while Juliet Shen ran a blog on Asian American feminism. They started the hashtag town hall as a way to create a platform for structured conversation around misogyny and issues specific to Asian American women. [89] In less than 24 hours, #NotYourAsianSidekick had been used over 45,000 times. [90]

The hashtag, #Boymom, has taken to social media platforms in order to display the so called "chaotic" and "messy" experiences mothers of boys go through. Instagram appears to be the platform with the most #Boymom hashtags, with nearly 12.9 million hashtags. Interestingly, #Girlmom falls significantly behind in numbers with only 4.8 million. Currently, there is much speculation surrounding this hashtag. People argue that it creates an environment for children where they feel unable to fully express their gender. Some people even go as far as to say that it perpetuates the sexist idea that sons are valued more than daughters.

Awareness Edit

#Kony2012 Edit

Kony 2012 is a short film produced by Invisible Children, Inc. (authors of Invisible Children). It was released on March 5, 2012. [91] [92] [93] [94]

The film's purpose was to promote the charity's "Stop Kony" movement to make African cult and militia leader, indicted war criminal and the International Criminal Court fugitive Joseph Kony [95] globally known in order to have him arrested by the end of 2012, [96] when the campaign expired. The film spread virally through the #Kony2012 hashtag. [97] [98] [99]

#WhyIStayed Edit

In 2014, a media release of security camera footage that appeared to show NFL player, Ray Rice, punching his then-fiancée, Janay Rice, sparked public conversation on why victims of abuse stay in abusive relationships. In response to this question, writer and domestic abuse survivor Beverly Gooden started the #WhyIStayed campaign via Twitter in an effort to "change the tone of the conversation". The hashtag began to trend nationally five hours after its creation and was used more than 46,000 times that day. [100] Beverly appeared on NPR's All Things Considered to discuss hashtag activism. [101]

#BringBackOurGirls Edit

Boko Haram kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls from Chibok, Nigeria in May 2014, refusing to return the girls. [102] The hashtag #BringBackOurGirls was created and used in hopes of keeping the story in the news and bringing international attention to it. [103] The hashtag was first used by a corporate lawyer named Ibrahim Abdullahi, and has also been used by the likes of First Lady Michelle Obama, who used it to raise awareness for the kidnapped girls. [104] [105] The hashtag in itself has received 2 million retweets. [1]

#AmINext Edit

In the Fall of 2014, a Canadian Inuit woman named Holly Jarrett created the #AmINext hashtag campaign to raise awareness about the Canadian Government's lack of response to the high rate of violence against Indigenous women. [106] The campaign involves people taking photos of themselves with signs holding "#AmINext" and posting it to social media. The campaign was meant to encourage a national conversation about the invisibility and vulnerability of the female Indigenous demographic and call attention to the minimal efforts of the Government in investigating the murders and disappearances. [107] [108] Holly was personally inspired to carry out the campaign as her cousin, Loretta Saunders, an Inuit woman from Labrador, went missing and was ultimately found dead on the side of a Canadian highway. After the campaign, the government filed a national DNA missing person's index and introduced 30 safety initiatives to help indigenous women. [109]

#PrayforParis Edit

The epicenter of Paris encountered unexpected terrorist attacks, leading to worldwide efforts to spread awareness about this incident. During this event, terrorists were wearing suicide belts and the subsequent violence was shocking. The terrorists were planning to enter the stadium along with other people. [110] Despite the person being prevented from entering, it demonstrated the severity of how people are risking their own lives, indirectly affecting others. Following the incident, more than 70 million people began to share this news on various social media platforms in order to reach a broader audience. [111] For example, on Facebook, the social media platform enabled users to change their profile picture to a transparent overlay of the French flag. The purpose of changing a user's Facebook profile picture was to indicate support to the victims of this unfortunate event. Twitter was also utilized. However, rather than creating a transparent overlay on a Twitter's user profile, a hashtag was created to emphasize support. This simple hashtag of #PrayforParis allowed users to spread support so that audiences were not only informed about the event, but could also click on a hyperlink to learn more about the cause and other user's perspectives. Although social media platforms were useful in spreading awareness, the effect of younger individuals were just as notable. For example, a young child drew his thoughts on paper, including the message: "Shot after shot, bang after bang, wasting innocent lives!" [112]

#FakeNews Edit

While "fake news" or politically-motivated disinformation (PMD) is not a new occurrence, the sentiment and spread of distrust of news coverage has become more notable since the 2016 U.S. elections cycle. The hashtag, #FakeNews, gained major popularity in 2016 when Donald Trump claimed that the negative press coverage he received was due to the spread of false stories. Since the emergence of this hashtag, there has been an increase in policy-related bills and laws regarding the proliferation of inaccurate information globally, which further politicized the issue and raised concerns of impending censorship. The emergence of social media has allowed for "fake news" to spread much quicker than regular news and information, pushing technology companies to take a more active role in detecting and removing "fake news".

An example of #FakeNews comes from a website named WTOF 5 News. The headline reads: “Pope Francis shocks world, endorses Donald Trump for president” [113] With the help from Facebook, this fake news article received over 960,000 engagements from the popular social media site, making it one of the post popular fake news articles of 2016.

#ProtectOurWinters Edit

Protect Our Winters is a movement and a nonprofit organization started by snowboarder, Jeremy Jones [114] and other winter sport athletes to raise awareness about global warming and climate change. The movement started in 2016 as a response to it being one of the hottest years. [114] [115] The movement demonstrates the effects of global warming with data about the winter sports industry and rise in carbon dioxide percentage. [114] [116] Protect Our Winters or POW calls for people to not only be aware of the effects global warming but to take action by volunteering, voting for legislature or donating to the cause.

#flygskam Edit

Flygskam is a Swedish word that literally translates as “flight shame”. It's the name of an anti-flying movement that originated in Sweden last year, which encourages people to stop taking flights to lower carbon emissions. The idea was originally championed by Olympic athlete Bjorn Ferry and gained momentum after teenage activist Greta Thunberg's mother, the opera singer Malena Ernman, publicly announced she would stop flying, with various Swedish celebrities the following suit. Thunberg herself traveled largely by train during her recent two-week tour of Europe. [117] The activism has seen real results in Sweden as the sales of airline ticket sales declined by 4% in January 2020 due to the increasing public awareness to the carbon footprint resulted by commercial flights. [118]

#CoronaVirus Edit

#Coronavirus, #Covid19, and #Covid_19 represent a few of the most common hashtags referring to Coronavirus 2019 that started in Wuhan, China. [119] [120] The Hashtag has increased rapidly with the World Health Organization's (WHO) declaration of the virus as pandemic on the 11th of March, 2020. [121] Looking at the trajectory of this Hashtag on Twitter from Symplur, it shows a notable decrease in the number of Hashtags from 50763 on 13 April 2020 to 35795 on 18 April 2020. [122]

Political Edit

#ArabSpring Edit

#ArabSpring spread across social media early 2011, spreading awareness of the anti-government protest in the North Africa and the Middle East. [123] The #ArabSpring is Twitter hashtag used in anti-government protests across the Middle East in 2010. [124]

#NotOneMore Edit

The hashtag #NotOneMore developed shortly after the May 23, 2014, shooting in Isla Vista, Santa Barbara, California. During this incident, six students attending the University of California, Santa Barbara, lost their lives. Richard Martinez, the father of one of the victims, quickly spoke out about gun control, calling for stricter gun control during memorial ceremonies and rallies, chanting "Not One More!" The phrase became a hashtag on social media afterwards. Richard also worked with Everytown's digital team to create a tool to allow participants to send postcards to their senators, congressional representatives, and governor containing the phrase "Not One More."


#Oromoprotests Edit

In 2014, IOYA (The International Oromo Youth Association) created the #Oromoprotests hashtag to bring awareness to Oromo student protests against the Ethiopian government's plan to expand Addis Ababa and annex areas occupied by Oromo farmers and residents. The hashtag was utilized again starting in late November/December 2015 to bring attention to renewed Oromo protests and the Ethiopian government's violent crackdown on students, journalists and musicians. [125] [126] While the Oromo held protests before, this was the first time the Oromo could be united across the country by using new social media platforms. [127]

#Sosblakaustralia Edit

In March 2015, an activism campaign took hold in Australia. #Sosblakaustralia was a campaign started in a small aboriginal town in Western Australia. This campaign was to combat an initiative that would close down 150 rural aboriginal communities. [128] Though this movement started in a rural community of 200 #Sosblakaustralia with poor Internet connection, it eventually spread to thousands of followers including Australian celebrities such as Hugh Jackman, this caused the movement to expand as far as London. In 18 days this movement had over 50,000 followers and had reached over 1,000,000 people worldwide. [129]

#IdleNoMore Edit

In the Winter of 2012–2013, in Canada, a campaign was started by Canadian indigenous activists using #IdleNoMore in order to combat future legislation that would threaten indigenous land and water. The movement has continued to grow and unify native communities and the hashtag has made expansion possible. Idle No More started in Canada it has spread to native people around the world including the United States and Australia where indigenous people face similar issues. [130] The use of the hashtag and social media has been instrumental in spreading Idle No More's message to indigenous people around the world giving those who otherwise would be voiceless a means to participate in activism. [131]

#UmbrellaRevolution Edit

The response of the umbrella became a symbol in Admiralty, Mong Kok and Causeway Bay districts, Hong Kong to protest about the free election systems in China. The protestors had been camped on the streets and the public parks. The umbrella was used to protect the protesters in defence of the democratic political process in 2014 when police used tear gas in attempts to get them to leave. "Umbrella Revolution" and "Umbrella Movement" have been used to identify this event through British media outlet BBC. through social network services such as Twitter and Instagram made the events in Hong Kong reach many other people not directly involved with the protest with the use of #UmbrellaRevolution and created a worldwide social awareness to how Hong Kong was responding to support of the democratic process. [132] [133] [134]

#MarchforOurLives Edit

The March for Our Lives protest began after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018. [135] In response to a surge of gun violence in schools and the 17 dead after the Parkland shooting, people began to rally around the hashtag #neveragain. The hashtag, indicative of the larger movement against gun violence, spread across social networks and went viral in early 2018.

Additionally, the movement organized walkouts in remembrance of the lives lost due to gun violence. In March 2018, hundreds of marches were organized across the country in support of stricter gun laws, many of which were met with resistance from anti-protesters. [135] Since February 2018 there have been 123 laws passed nationwide at the state-level to address concerns of gun control. [136]

On February 17, 2018 a Facebook page was started by students to encourage their participation in the movement and as of April 2019 the page has been liked by more than 280,000 individuals and has a following of more than 300,000. [137] The instagram page @marchforourlives is live and as of April 2019 has over 200 posts and just over 360,000 followers. [138]

#PutItToThePeople Edit

The United Kingdom-based People's Vote campaign group was launched in April 2018 and calls for a confirmatory public vote on the final Brexit deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union [139] and uses #PutItToThePeople as its activism hashtag. [140]

#EndFathersDay Edit

In 2014, some editors spoofed being black feminists, spreading the meme, #EndFathersDay. Fox News picked the hoax to denounce. [141] After much research, the fake accounts were outed. [142]

#NoBanNoWall Edit

#NoBanNoWall is a hashtag and social media campaign created in response to Donald Trump's Muslim ban and 2016 presidential campaign promises to build a physical wall on the US-Mexico border. [143] In 2017, President Donald Trump issued multiple executive orders threatening to break up families and turn away refugees. [144] Saki Barzinji and Imraan Siddiqi started #NoBanNoWall in an effort to rally Muslim, Latino, and other communities to stand up against xenophobic immigration policies. [145] On January 25, 2017, protestors gathered at Washington Square Park and chanted, “No ban no wall,” which inspired the Twitter hashtag #NoBanNoWall to protest Trump's travel ban. [146] The impact of the movement was seen in airports immediately after the hashtag started trending. [147] A judge in New York accepted a request from the ACLU to provide a warrant blocking deportation in airports. [148] The movement became a platform for people to share stories of them or their families immigrating to the US, and worked to combat the growing public fear of certain foreigners. [149]

Inspired by Greta Thunberg and started by Greenpeace and Jane Fonda, #FireDrillFridays brings awareness to the climate change crisis. [150] Calling for a Green New Deal in the United States government, the movement organized protests on the Capitol every Friday beginning in October 2019. [151] The campaign also advocates for complete stoppage of new fossil fuel projects and to phase out existing fossil fuel projects. [152] [153] #FireDrillFridays gained popularity with celebrity arrests. [154] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fonda moved #FireDrillFridays online to continue rallying for government action. [155]

#WalkAway Edit

Other examples Edit

In September 2014, The Hokkolorob Movement (Let The Voice Raise Movement) started. It is a series of protests initiated by the students of Jadavpur University in Kolkata, India that began on September 3, 2014. The term "hok kolorob" ("make some noise") was first used as a hashtag on Facebook. [158]

Trends Edit

#icebucketchallenge and #ALS Edit

The #icebucketchallenge is an act where a bucket of ice water is dumped over the head of an individual and documented by videos or pictures, and a "challenge" is issued to another person (or persons) to do the same. The "challenged" individual then either has to respond by dumping ice water on their head, or donate money to a Motor neuron disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease) charity. However, doing both is also an option. The encouragement of the challenge is to circulate the video or photo on social media websites and applications with their community, friends, and family to show their support in raising awareness of ALS/MND. [159] The involvement of #icebucketchallenge with the global audience of social media generated so much awareness and support that in early August 2014, the national ALS charity foundation president Barbara Newhouse, directly attributed the movement to a fundraising "surge" of $168,000 that accumulated in just a week. That figure contrasted with the $14,000 raised in the same time the year prior prompted the CEO and her 38 years in the industry to view the difference in support as "crazy." [160] A month after the August 2014 fundraising week the number of videos that were directly associated with the #icebucketchallenge was tallied on the Facebook website from June 1 to September 1 at 17 million, according to the Facebook Newsroom. [161] As the videos continued to climb, so did the challenges. Eventually, public figures such as James Franco, Charlie Rose, and even former president George W. Bush took an activist role in raising money for research and awareness of the ALS disease. [162]

#Hallyu Edit

The Hallyu Wave, which literally translates to “flow of Korea” (or more commonly known as the Korean Wave) represents the social movement in connection to South Korean culture and entertainment. Economically, Hallyu is tremendously profitable, attracting millions of tourists and fans per year and produces many forms of entertainment, such as Korean pop music and television drama series, ultimately generating billions of US dollars in annual revenue which further strengthens its economic prosperity and stability. [163] Furthermore, being a powerful social movement in its own right, Hallyu holds considerable influence in politics as well. The ninth president of South Korea, Roh Moo-hyun, once stated that Hallyu can be used to improve or repair the tense relations between the Koreas. [164] Still, North Korea does not have its own rendition of Hallyu and even rejects it for example, when Psy's "Gangnam Style" was released in 2012, North Korea viewed the song with contempt because while South Korea was attracting positive attention, it was also undermining the impoverished conditions of North Korea at the same time. [165]

LGBT rights Edit

In 2014, protests of the then-recently enacted anti-gay laws included targeting the corporate sponsors for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi Russia. Among the sponsors was McDonald's, whose marketing included the hashtag #CheersToSochi, which was hijacked by the queer activist group Queer Nation. [166] [167] [168]

In June 2015, The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide. [169] This led to the creation of the hashtag #lovewins. [170] This hashtag earned over 4.5 billion impressions on Twitter. President Barack Obama joined in and tweeted using the hashtag.

Publishing Edit

#DignidadLiteraria Edit

#OwnVoices Edit

#PublishingPaidMe Edit

Hashtag activism has been criticized by some as a form of slacktivism. [171] Chris Wallace, George Will, and Brit Hume of Fox News commented that hashtag activism was a "useless exercise in self esteem and that . I do not know how adults stand there, facing a camera, and say, 'Bring back our girls.' Are these barbarians in the wilds of Nigeria supposed to check their Twitter accounts and say, 'Uh oh, Michelle Obama is very cross with us, we better change our behavior'?" [4] [172] [173] The ease of hashtag activism has led to concerns that it might lead to overuse and public fatigue. [174] Critics worry that hashtag activism allows participants to be satisfied with a public symbol of concern, rather than actually be concerned and take additional action. [10]

Other criticism for hashtag activism includes the argument that online social movements are often started by privileged individuals, rather than by those who the causes are supposed to help. [10] Critics will often use the Kony 2012 movement as an example, as the film was directed by an American film and theater director. [10] People also believe that hashtag activism lacks the passion displayed by movements that preceded it. [175]

Notable critics of hashtag activism include Sarah Palin, who in regards to the Boko Harem abductions and the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, wrote in a caption:

Diplomacy via Twitter is the lazy, ineffectual, naïve, and insulting way for America’s leaders to deal with major national and international issues… If you’re going to get involved anyway, Mr. President, learn to understand this and believe it, then announce it: Victory is only brought to you ‘courtesy of the red, white and blue.’ It’s certainly not won by your mere ‘unfriending’ the bad guys on Facebook. Leading from behind is not the American way. [175]

Palin is one of many critics who believe hashtag activism to be lazy and inefficient. [176] Malcolm Gladwell, in an article titled “Small Change: Why the Revolution will Not be Tweeted,” has also criticized hashtag activism for lacking the close ties he felt was necessary to inspire large action. [177]

Another critic is the Nigerian-American writer, Teju Cole, who argued that hashtag activism for #BringBackOurGirls actually oversimplified and sentimentalized the issue, and stated:

"For four years, Nigerians have tried to understand these homicidal monsters. Your new interest (thanks) simplifies nothing, solves nothing."

Sarah Palin and Teju Cole both believe hashtag activism is a form of slacktivism, where it only has people talk about the situation, but no real action is being done to solve the issue. [178]

An online digital survey conducted in 2014 found that 64% of surveyed Americans said that they were more likely to support social and environmental issues through volunteering, donating, sharing information etc. after they liked a post or followed a non-profit online. The same study also showed that 58% of the surveyed Americans felt that tweeting or posting is an effective form of advocacy. [179]

While critics worry that hashtag activism results in a lack of true action offline, supporters of hashtag activism believe it to be effective because it allows people to easily voice their opinions and educate themselves on numerous issues. [5] By adding a hashtag in front of an influential phrases that has sentence structures with verbs that show "a strong sense of action and force", people can find information on a specific movement and follow the different events that are occurring for that movement. [180] It is easier to press on the link of the hashtag and see what others have said and to interact with others on the subject. [180] Supporters will argue that it is through hashtag activism that people can learn more about ways to be civically engaged and attend protests. Because hashtag activism occurs on social media platforms with millions of daily users, it is also argued to expose individuals to more personal stories, thereby shifting public opinions and helping victims find support. [175]

Hashtag activism can be seen as a narrative agency because it brings in readers to participate in a co-production of the different hashtags. Each hashtag has a beginning, conflict, and end as a narrative would. [180] People are able to share their stories relating to the hashtag, emotions, and personal thoughts. All this creates a huge narrative for the hashtag that stimulates confrontation and encourages participation, by reading, commenting, and retweeting. [180] Identifying shared experiences builds rhetorical connections between people who would never otherwise meet, enabling users of hashtags such as #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter to support and validate each other. [181] Twitter alone has 330 million active users who are able to see trending contents from all over the world. [182] Hashtag activism encourages debate and insight from people living the experience instead of the limits of news outlets. Hashtag activism is the first step into debates and ideas that lead to significant political movements. [182] According to the Pew Research Center, there were a total of 11.8 million tweets on #BlackLivesMatter from 2013–2016. [183] There was an average of 58,747 tweet of BLM, but after Michael Brown's death at the hands of a police officer in 2014, it increased to 172,772 times on an average day. [183] This illustrates that by initiating conversations and confronting problems, hashtags serve as a digitally-informed extension of the role language has always held in generating political action. [184] Hashtag activism has also been shown to impact policies and decisions made by organizations. It is able to achieve this because it provides organizations with a quick and easy way to view public opinion and outcry. For instance, in 2012 when the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation decided to stop funding mammograms through Planned Parenthood, the Internet created an uproar and tweeted, "standwithpp," and "singon." That same week, Komen has reversed its decision. [175]

Hashtag activism has received support from key social media activists like Bev Goodman, who initiated the #WhyIStayed movement for women who suffered from domestic abuse. She stated in an NPR interview that, "the beauty of hashtag activism is that it creates an opportunity for sustained engagement, which is important for any cause.” [185]

#BlackLivesMatter: Are church leaders fighting about a slogan, a movement or an organization?

Journalists covering the demonstrations and riots after the killing of George Floyd have struggled with a number of issues and several are directly linked to religion.

For starters, I’ve been stunned at the lack of coverage of the African American church. It would appear that the traditional leaders of Civil Rights Movement-style marches and protests have been replaced by anonymous leaders, many of them young, white and linked to colleges and universities.

My question: Is this true? Have black church leaders been silent or has the press been looking the other way, in part because violent protests and riots are “more newsworthy” than peaceful demonstrations that play by the rules of a civil society? I’m genuinely curious about this.

There is another issue that really needs to be addressed head-on in mainstream coverage. When we talk about #BlackLivesMatter — and cover disputes inside religious groups about supporting #BlackLivesMatters — are we talking about:

(a) The ideas and concerns expressed in a slogan?

(b) A movement that is planning specific demonstrations inspired by that slogan (it would appear there is no one unified movement, as noted earlier)?

(c) The actions, goals and doctrines of a specific organization that calls itself Black Lives Matter?

Journalists cannot accurately cover controversies inside religious groups linked to these issues without settling, or discussing, that issue.

With that in mind, I want to point readers to a long and very detailed feature at The Christian Chronicle written by Bobby Ross, Jr., a long, long-time contributor here at GetReligion. Here is his double-decker headline, which is quite revealing:

Why the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement is so controversial to many Christians

Some believers point to a radical, anti-Christian agenda. Others see racism at play in the slogan’s opposition

You can see the main theme right up top:

To Christians such as Taneise Perry, the phrase “Black Lives Matter” voices a simple truth about the importance of equal treatment and justice for Black Americans.

To Perry, a Black mother of three sons, the viral hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has little to do with an activist organization that has raised millions of dollars and maintains a website at

“For me, it’s a really sad day to know that racism is a political issue,” said Perry, a Church of Christ member who lives in Charlotte, N.C. “Most people — I would say 99 percent of people who are out there protesting — are not card-carrying, dues-paying members to that organization. It’s really about supporting a movement.”

But to other believers, including Merijo Alter, the Black Lives Matter Global Network — incorporated in Delaware — pushes a radical agenda that threatens the Christian way of life.

“Their own writing shows that they are on the opposite side of the spectrum from those of us who try to follow Christ’s teaching,” said Alter, who is White and a member of the High Ridge Church of Christ in Missouri.

At the heart of the controversy are two statements in the credo posted online at It’s important that Ross put these quotations into play, because it’s impossible to understand the heat in these debates without seeing this:

“We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.”

Frequently that statement is quoted without the final clause about the role of “mothers, parents and children.” And here’s another question: What about fathers?

Then there is this belief statement:

“We foster a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).”

Are there tensions here between black church leaders and white church leaders? Of course. Ross shows that.

But there are also black church leaders who understand that slogan vs. movement vs. specific organization confusion is affecting the ability of churches to find middle ground — starting with the obvious truth that racism is a sin, at the level of individuals and the systems and structures of a broken culture — and work together.

Read the following carefully:

John Edmerson, who is Black and serves as the senior minister and an elder of the Church of Christ at the Vineyard in Phoenix, said he is not a proponent of the Black Lives Matter Global Network’s stands.

But Edmerson said: “Yes, you can say ‘Black Lives Matter’ and not sign onto a platform that represents a lot of things that Christians in the Churches of Christ don’t really espouse or adhere to.”

The hashtag preceded the Black Lives Matter Global Network, which was founded in response to the 2013 acquittal of a White neighborhood watch volunteer who killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager. Also, points out that a number of groups use the phrase “Black Lives Matter” in their name.

In other words, there is no one “Black Lives Matter” organization or network.

That only adds to the complexity of this religion-beat story, as Ross demonstrates.

From Hashtag to Movement: Author Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor on Black Lives Matter and Police Reform

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is an assistant professor of African-American studies at Princeton University and the author of a new book: "From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation"—a political analysis of the Black Lives Matter movement, the history of policing and race in the United States, and divisions between the black political establishment and today's Black Lives Matter activists. Taylor is speaking at University Bookstore at 7 p.m. on April 28.

What's your argument in "From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation"?

The book starts with several questions that I'm trying to answer. One of which is, "Why did this movement erupt now, when we're living through the biggest concentration of black political power in American history?" When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, there was all this discussion of whether we'd entered into a postracial period. Part of why I'm trying to do with the book is pursue that question and answer how this movement came to be.

I'm also looking at whether the Black Lives Matter movement opens up a broader opportunity to explore what black liberation looks like in the United States. Can this movement that's narrowly fixated on police brutality become a much broader interrogation of American society? Can it become a basis upon organizing a broader movement that looks toward the future of a society that does not rely on brutal policing as a way to manage inequality?

What do you make of the Black Lives Matter movement's trajectory so far?

The movement has made an enormous contribution to educating the American public about the pervasiveness of police violence in the United States. I think most people now recognize that bad policing is not just about a few rogue cops or bad apples.

In terms of body cameras, sensitivity training, and hiring better cops, there's a way that the political establishment would like to limit the reforms to those three options. Those changes would be broadly supported, but I do think that there's an opening for a larger discussion about the nature of police violence. The movement has helped open up the space for that.

A year in a half later after the emergence of BLM, I also think we're witnessing the resilience of the establishment to defend corrupt, killer police officers, and to really protect the status quo.

That's why there's been a lot of talk about reforming the police, but there's been very little action. Look at the Obama task force, which came out with recommendations in 2015. Not a single one of them has been acted upon. There was no mechanism put forth to actually compel local jurisdictions to act on any of those recommendations, and there certainly wasn't any funding put forward.

That's part of a larger pattern: When the movements reach a certain pitch, the representatives of the establishment are able to put a commission together—to make it appear that something is actually happening. But when you actually look at whether substantive reforms have been implemented, there's little done in that regard.

Part of it is because violent policing is actually woven into our society. There's never been a golden age of policing that wasn't racist or violent. There's not a single period of time that anyone can point where the police were not violent or abusive in the United States. Part of that is because America is such a violent and unequal society. Policing is a way of managing and containing that kind of inequality. In cities after city, where there have been police violence scandals, these are cities that have gutted unemployment assistance, with high poverty rates, and no plan or agenda to address that. Policing is relied upon to keep the "peace."

How do you believe policing came to be this way?

There are many different historical genealogies of police in the United States. Some have traced policing back to slavery, to those who were chasing runaway slaves. I look at the role of police in the post-emancipation period. After the Civil War, policing was tightly wound up with the attempt to reestablish the political economy of the South, where most black people were, in the aftermath of slavery.

This involved police colluding with the Southern aristocracy to control, monitor, and re-deliver black labor to the elite in the South. You had all sorts of ordinances that criminalized poverty, that criminalized unemployment, that were used to coerce black people back into working under unjust conditions. Black people would be picked up by law enforcement and business owners would sometimes bail them out on the condition that they work for them. This demonstrated the way that policing operates. It's not a neutral group that exist for a greater good of society. The police act on behalf of those who are involved in the state—those with money and resources, historically.

Categories of criminality were conflated with blackness. Even though many of the arrests were on trumped up charges and for things that were barely illegal, such as being unemployed, it didn't matter. Black people begin to become associated with crime and criminal records. By the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, all of these arrest records across the South become these kinds of permanent categories with which to understand what African Americans are doing. The linkages between blacks and crime begin to get made and become stable. Those labels of criminality traveled with blacks through their migration to the North.

When African-Americans move out of the South into Northern cities, they're confronted with residential segregation, which is a kind of invisible Jim Crow. There are no signs telling people where they can't live, but it's the practices of the real estate or banking industries, which is then reinforced by the acts of white citizens through mob violence to protect the color lines. This leads to massive overcrowding in black communities wherever they exist, from Los Angeles to Chicago to Detroit.

Those conditions with overcrowding—unemployment, poverty, under-employent—created the pretext for police surveillance of black communities. They view these places as potential areas for criminal activity. And police are allowing criminal activity to exist in black communities. This was especially true in the era of prohibition. Police knowingly colluded with those involved in criminal enterprises to allow those to flourish in black areas. We see from the outset, from the moment that blacks became an urban population, that it happens under the racialized scrutiny of policing. And it has been that way ever since.

You have a chapter in your book called "Black Faces in High Places." And you write, "The Black political establishment, led by President Barack Obama, had shown over and over again that it was not capable of the most basic task: keeping Black children alive. The young people would have to do it themselves."

Probably the most profound development in black life in the past forty years has been the intense class division that has developed. There are more than 13,000 black elected officials in the United States. There are 46 black members of congress, which is more than any other point the united states. There's a black president and attorney general.

I try to look at the role of the black political class in shrouding the effects of racism. And at how this class is vociferous in condemning the black poor for creating the conditions of their own poverty, of narrating about them in ways that white politicians could never get away with.

Baltimore after the killing of Freddie Gray was a big example of this. The black mayor, Stephanie Rawlkings-Blake, was responsible for bringing in the National Guard to suppress a rebellion led by young black people, which I think in some ways is unprecedented, in the scale of confrontation between ordinary blacks and the black elite.

There's no longer this unified black movement, as there was in the Sixties. It raises questions about allies and solidarity, and what the nature of this new movement can actually look like.

The Obama administration has held up Seattle—which is under a federal consent decree to address a pattern of excessive force and concerns about racial bias—as a model of police reform across the country. What does real police reform look like?

There Seattle, there's Los Angeles, and a year and a half ago it was Camden, New Jersey. I think these examples that are held up of police reform really show the poverty of the phrase. Because in any of those places, the idea the the police are not engaged in the same kinds of oppressive practices that gave rise to BLM in the first place is simply untrue. Police violence and brutality in racism are a permanent feature of policing in the United states.

There should be decriminalization of the growing list of offenses for which someone can be charged. For a country that purposes to support small government, there's a never ending list of crimes that people can be charged for. Especially in this era of austerity and economic inequality, the kinds of markers of poverty that have been criminalized are breathtaking. I think part of the activism of BLM should be directed at decriminalization. Not just for marijuana, but for the litany of "nuisance" crimes.

There should be an attempt to expand civilian oversight of police. Review boards should not be appointed by police or by municipalities that have an interest in violent policing. Perhaps they should be popularly elected, as local school boards are. I think there has to bee a concerted effort to expose and undo police union contracts with cities, which attempt to turn the "blue line" into policy. Those should be an object of activism, to have them dissolved completely.

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Police need to be punished severely. Police are protected agents of the state who are able to operate above the law. I think they need to be convicted and jailed, to reverse the message that they can act with impunity. Some combination of those things could have an impact on policing in black and brown communities.

Again, policing is a product of the vast amount of inequality in the United States. There's no way to legislate that out of the way police function. That's why you can have so called "reformed" police departments that operate in the same oppressive, exploitative ways they always did. Better training usually teaches police how to better hide the oppression that they're involved with, not actually deal with it.

So there's a two-pronged struggle—decriminalization and weakening police power—as well as dramatically reducing its funding. In a city like Chicago, where the city routinely tries to close schools, the police get 40 percent of the budget, which in my view is criminal. But then there has to be a much broader struggle that attacks the excuses for policing in the first place.

You talked about dissolving police union contracts. Democrats and liberals will say that's not in keeping with progressive principles.

Police don't have anything to do with the left wing tradition of unions. They aren't a part of that class of people who need union protections against the rich and powerful. The police operate as agents of the rich and powerful. They should be humiliated and driven out of the labor movement.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How #BlackLivesMatter became a worldwide rallying cry

Activist Alicia Garza felt physically sick to her stomach when George Zimmerman, the self-appointed neighbourhood watch volunteer, was acquitted of murder in July 2013 for the shooting of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin in a gated community in Florida.

Garza, then 32, used Facebook as an outlet for her grief and frustration in a now-famous post in which she wrote "black lives matter." Joined by two other rights activists who added the hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter was born.

It wasn't until Michael Brown, another unarmed black man, was shot and killed by a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson more than a year later that the hashtag became an international phenomenon.

#BlackLivesMatter peaked on Twitter on Nov. 24, 2014 when it was announced that a grand jury had declined to indict Darren Wilson, the officer who had shot and killed Brown following a confrontation.

8 Massive Moments When Hashtag Activism Really Worked

Let’s look back on how hashtags have changed the world for the better.

Oh, the #hashtag. It’s been a whole decade since it was first used on Twitter. Always in-style and never late to the party, it’s the prelude to every important online conversation.

But who knew that this symbol, so small and unprepossessing, would help change the world?

Londoners like it because it always keeps to the left. Americans love it because it kickstarts every week with more motivation than a Tony Robbins zumba class. And the rest of the world? It literally brings people together 125 million times a day.

Global Citizen campaigns to tackle the very issues that these hashtags have helped raise awareness of: gender inequality, injustice, poverty, civilians suffering in conflict. You can join the fight by taking action here.

On the day that Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba shaved the symbol into the back of his head with the world #EQUAL, we break down the defining moments when hashtag activism really, really worked.

1) #DressLikeAWoman

After a report that alleged President Trump asked his staff to “dress like women”, the internet delivered a scything dressing down.

Like hashtags, gendered clothing is everywhere. Unlike hashtags, it’s only meant to divide.

Some women love dressing their best for work.

That's me on the left wearing my favorite outfit

— Rebecca Alleyne, MD (@BeckyAlleyneMD) February 3, 2017

Alternatively, everybody knows that black is the new black.

If in doubt, go for the fetching “out of this world” look.

2) #StopFundingHate

This UK grassroots activism campaign began to take action against the anti-migrant position of many British newspapers.

Since its inception just over a year ago, it’s gone viral several times over — and won some big victories in the process.

Last year Lego pulled its promotional giveaways from the Daily Mail. Several months later, the Body Shop joined the fray as it cut ties with the paper over human rights concerns. Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker has approached Walkers about their partnership with The Sun, too — after they attacked the football pundit’s positive stance towards refugees.

Every tweet is a stand — a protest to power about what world you want to live in. And it works.

We have finished the agreement with The Daily Mail and are not planning any future promotional activity with the newspaper

— LEGO (@LEGO_Group) November 12, 2016

Good news! Before Xmas, Body Shop had a front page promo on the Mail on Sunday. Now they have "no plans" to advertise with the Daily Mail.

— Stop Funding Hate (@StopFundingHate) February 15, 2017

3) #YouAintNoMuslimBruv

The British react with both class and honesty in times of tragedy. Remember the punter who retreated calmly from a terror attack without spilling a drop of his pint? Or the #ThingsThatLeaveBritainReeling hashtag that highlighted how a poorly made cup of tea is more likely to get to us than any act of hate?

In the weeks before Christmas 2015, a man with paranoid schizophrenia cut the throat of a stranger at a London tube station. He was given a life sentence in a high-security psychiatric institution, after a judge found him to be motivated by Islamic extremism.

But before Islamophobia gripped the papers, a young man from London beat them to the punch. “You ain’t no muslim, bruv!” was the perfect riposte – delivered at the scene just as the culprit was arrested by a Muslim policeman.

So proud of this man and of my city. Londoners can and do stick together. We will not be beaten. #YouAintNoMuslimBruv

— Flavia Bertolini (@fluffyberty) December 6, 2015

Terror in the name of Islam is not Islamic. Sometimes it takes a Twitter trend to make that point heard.

4) #HeForShe

We all know that gender equality affects everyone, right? And that feminism isn’t just for women? Well, we’ve largely got the He For She campaign to thank for that.

This UN Women campaign, backed by Emma Watson and Justin Trudeau, seeks to actively involve men and boys in a struggle that had previously been thought of as “a woman’s thing.”

Among the leading countries in the world for pledges and commitments to join the cause, are Rwanda, the United States of America, Mexico, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the UK.

Wonderful men out there. I'm launching a campaign - #heforshe. Support the women in ur lives and sign up here now! ❤️

— Emma Watson (@EmmaWatson) September 21, 2014

5) #WomensMarch

The 2017 Women’s March was one of the most powerful moments of women uniting together across the world to achieve a greater goal.

Millions of women, fed-up with the status quo and optimistic about the future, walked together to demand an equal footing in society.

It was a euphoric moment that will take its place in history. And, thanks to the uniting power of this hashtag, women were reminded that we’re not alone.

People thinking the #WomensMarch is over the top. you know what else is over the top? Sexism still existing in 2017.

— Madison Tomkow (@madisontomkow) January 22, 2017

6) #BlackLivesMatter

With its origins in one heartfelt Facebook post, following the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, this hashtag has spawned a civil rights movement that will change the face of the United States. There are now more than 26 Black Lives Matter chapters across the US.

The movement is fuelled by grief at the seemingly endless stream of unjust deaths by rage at institutionalised racism by frustration at the consistent denial of equal rights for all Americans.

We know that ALL lives matter but we have to say #BlackLivesMatter to remind people of our humanity, which is far too often forgotten.

— Awesomely Luvvie (@Luvvie) November 25, 2014

More than any civil rights movement in history, the Black Lives Matter movement has been brought together from across the world by the uniting power of social media.

7) #ASLIceBucketChallenge

Who doesn’t remember that halcyon summer of 2014, when Facebook newsfeeds everywhere were filled with people having ice and water poured over their heads?

In the UK, one in every six people participated in the ice bucket challenge, which encouraged people to nominate their friends to take up the baton and keep the momentum going.

It was the first of the viral charity challenge hashtags, raising money and awareness for the ALS Association, and it set a precedent that many have tried to match in the years since.

The ALS Association received more than $41.8 million from more than 739,000 new donors between July 29 and August 21 2014 — more than double the donations to the charity for the whole of 2012, reported the New York Times.

8) #BringBackOurGirls

In April 2014, 276 schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram in the northern Nigerian village of Chibok, in an act that outraged the world. The hashtag was first used on April 23, in Nigeria.

In less than three weeks, the hashtag had been used more than a million times worldwide, with supermodel Cara Delevingne and Michelle Obama adding their high-profile selfies to the mounting social media movement.

The outcomes of the campaign have provoked questions — about whether the “celebrity status” of the Chibok schoolgirls has actually harmed their case rather than helping whether it would have been better to say nothing.

It’s a difficult and complex question for commentators to answer. But, whatever your opinion on the outcome, this hashtag has brought global attention to the great tragedy of the Boko Haram conflict — a conflict that much of the world would otherwise never have heard of.


  1. Nu'man

    already have, and have already seen waited a long time

  2. Muskan

    In my opinion, it is an interesting question, I will take part in discussion.

  3. Vaughan

    I believe you were wrong. I'm sure.

  4. Quaashie


  5. Alo

    Love has many faces. Love sometimes smiles, sometimes laughs, sometimes cries, and sometimes she, like an angry wild cat, grimaces, hisses and after a moment rushes in your face to scratch out your eyes. Fear this kind of love.

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