Given that the coverage of Black Lives Matter protests seems to have abated, now is a great moment to reflect back on the achievements of the Black Lives Matter protests, and also to contemplate the nature of peaks and troughs of activity within mass movements.
If you were expecting the BLM protests to result in a universal end to racism, you were always going to be disappointed. While the Minneapolis City Council signed a pledge to dismantle the police, these initiatives are not going to be replicated on a wider basis, certainly not under Trump's and Johnson's governments. To think these are the only standards of success are unreasonable; Martin Luther King’s Birmingham Bus Campaign didn’t end segregation, but still played a major role in the transformation of the American political landscape. The attention of the media and the public will always move on, especially in times like these, and we could never really expect the wave of protests to last until racism as a concept is ended.
Nonetheless, we would be small-minded to deny that these protests have been a huge success. Hundreds upon thousands of people have risen up in a united front all over the world, coming together to condemn racist agendas. The reactions of the Metropolitan Police over the last few days to a video of an officer kneeling on someone’s neck show that the police are held to a new, higher, standard. The attitudes to racist policing among the public and officials will never be the same.
The personal impact has also been massive. We are now having conversations about systemic racism, which we would never have had before. The protests have highlighted issues that our generation might have known were there, but our parents and grandparents might never have considered. The BLM protests have thrust a fist into the public consciousness, hammering home notions and ideas that are deeply challenging to a vast part of the population. The Alt-Right have also further shown themselves to be violent and moronic (if we were ever in any doubt). The ‘defending’ of statues attracted a huge amount of criticism for violence, and destruction of property.
The BLM protests have thrust a fist into the public consciousness, hammering home notions and ideas that are deeply challenging to a vast part of the population
George Floyd’s name will be inscribed in the public consciousness, alongside Treyvon Martin and Emmett Till, representatives of the countless millions who suffer under racism, and his suffering will not be forgotten, or forgiven, but harnessed in an attempt to bring about change. The protests following his death might have ended, but their impact will last forever. They have transformed history, and if you helped play a role, however big or small, you should take pride in that.