Lessons from Black Lives Matter published in British Library Book.
Black Lives Matter: The fight for identity in the media. Published in the British Library’s accompanying book to its epic 500 years of News exhibition this April, I was able to take a number of perspectives for the book.
Here I reflect on what I felt were key points in my research — not all of which I included in the piece for reasons of its intended focus and time constraints. The piece was about the power of language. The language of empowerment changed with the times from the 1950s.
BLM threads so many past movements — a coin whose face reflect the ideas of Dr King and Malcolm X. Acting as a broad tent facilitated its multi-adoption by many. This DNA can be found in The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) of the 1950s led by Dr King.
The lesson, easily overlooked, was how the founders of BLM worked in unison with other groups. There were shared terms and policy interests.
BLM’s patterning has broader lessons for individual agencies/ groups working in D&I and how coalescing with different groups with shared interests can amplify results.
In a previous Medium post How a Million Pound Racial Discrimination case created a Diversity and Inclusion Industry built on Sand, I research and write about some of D&I initiatives, and achilles, tackling inequality and discrimination. For example:
from Behavioural Scientists writing in the Harvard Business Review:
In nearly a thousand studies. It turns out that while people are easily taught to respond correctly to a questionnaire about bias, they soon forget the right answers. The positive effects of diversity training rarely last beyond a day or two.
The library piece was written last year. But as then and reflecting on a recent edition of Chatham House’s The World Today (Chatham House is the UK’s leading think tank on International Relations) this.
Towards a feminist foreign policy: How women’s voice can shape a better world. Over several pages, a number of authors contribute to the theme:
Whilst the specifics of a feminist foreign policy framework continue to evolve, it is clear that an intention to prioritize equality and sustainable peace is moving the foreign policy landscape in a better direction.
Transplanting foreign policy for racial policy provides a translational narrative for the women Alicia Garza, Patrisse Marie Khan-Cullors, and Opal Tometi, who founded BLM.
Whilst writing, and this is not included in the British Library piece, I reflected on initiatives in which I was involved. More than twenty years ago, and some further back, we convened an industry meeting after Macpherson’s findings on Stephen Lawrence’s inquiry. Newly discovered archive video of the event has surfaced.
Physically mobilising people was key to BLM attracting attention. Outraged by Trayvon Martin’s to George Floyd’s killing people could participate in an open access platform to express themselves. One the one hand social networks acted as a means to an end — to protest — but the hashtag enabled, and gave visibility to a spectrum of people across demographics to get involved.
There were many challenges which I try and address in the library piece, which envelops different spectrum of research. The British Library are working to see if they can get extracts in the press; if not then I hope we can either find an alt means to make it accessible (issue of licensing etc).