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#BlackLivesMatter: The Evolution of Collective Identity

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Presentation by Melissa Brown on collective identity formation in relation to #BlackLivesMatter

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#BlackLivesMatter: The Evolution of Collective Identity

  1. 1. #BlackLivesMatter: The Evolution of Collective Identities Melissa Brown Department of Sociology University of Maryland, College Park mcbrown@umd.edu
  2. 2. Summary O Significance of social media to 21st century social movements O #BLM is only new in name and presentation O Link between online activism and offline protests O Evolution of a leader in a leaderless movement O Evolution of collective identities and their alter versions
  3. 3. Significance of social media to 21st century social movements
  4. 4. COLLECTIVE IDENTITIES O Refer to “the set of operations by means of which social movements define their collective sense of self, who they are and what they stand for” (Gerbaudo and Treré 2015: 865) O Begin with the public expression of symbols and language that aims to challenge the cultural domination of a particular group (Polletta and Jasper 2014). O Often evolve due to a collective group of individuals’ response to they perceived social imbalances
  5. 5. How Does Twitter Matter?
  6. 6. Hashtags as Collective Action Frames O Hashtags that individuals use relate to their belief systems O Hashtags allow users to join with others in a form of solidarity O Using specific hashtags constitutes micromobilization
  7. 7. #BLACKLIVESMATTE R : NEW IN NAME ONLY
  8. 8. 250 275 300 325 350 375 400 425 450 475 500 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 Justifiable Homicides by Law Enforcement
  9. 9. 0. 200. 400. 600. 800. 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 U.S. Violent Crime Rate, 1960-2012
  10. 10. “When some people rejoin with ‘All Lives Matter’ they misunderstand the problem, but not because their message is untrue. It is true that all lives matter, but it is equally true that not all lives are understood to matter which is precisely why it is most important to name the lives that have not mattered, and are struggling to matter in the way they deserve... If Black lives do not matter, then they are not really regarded as lives, since a life is supposed to matter. So what we see is that some lives matter more than others, that some lives matter so much that they need to be protected at all costs, and that other lives matter less, or not at all.” —Professor Judith Butler #BlackLivesMatter
  11. 11. Research Questions 1) Do “movement entrepreneurs” (Valocchi 2001: 446) who are the most popular on Twitter correspond to activists mentioned by mainstream journalists as leaders of #BlackLivesMatter? 2) Does social media activism link to protests on the ground? 3) Do collective identities emerge and survive over time as they relate to Ferguson on Twitter? 4) What are the themes that are linked to the surviving collective identities on Twitter about Ferguson?
  12. 12. Ferguson Twitter Data Set O August 10 - August 27, 2014: Killing of Michael Brown O November 11 - December 8, 2014: Non- indictment of Darren Wilson O February 25 - March 3, 2015: Department of Justice Report on Ferguson Police Department O July 30 - August 11, 2015: One year after killing of Michael Brown
  13. 13. Ferguson Twitter Data Set OTweets per day (31,657,545) OTop 10 most tweeted users per day (446) OTop 10 Hashtags per day (293) OTop 10 Media files each day (670) OTop 10 URLs each day (670) OTop 10 Retweets each day (670)
  14. 14. Number of Tweets Per Period Death of Mike Brown (18 days) 13,238,863 Non Indictment of Officer Wilson (28 days) 15,080,082 DoJ Report on Ferguson (8 days) 2,033,898 One Year after Brown's Death (13 days) 1,304,702 Total 31,657,545
  15. 15. Activists Celebrity Scholars Other Percentage of Top Users and Retweets % of Users % of Retweets
  16. 16. THE EVOLUTION OF A LEADER IN A LEADERLESS MOVEMENT
  17. 17. 0% 13% 25% 38% 50% Brown Death Wilson Non- indictment DoJ Report One Year after Death DeRay McKesson (229K Twitter Followers) 19th 1st 1st 3rd
  18. 18. 0 1,000,000 2,000,000 3,000,000 4,000,000 11/12/18 11/16/18 11/20/18 11/24/18 11/28/18 12/2/18 12/6/18 12/10/18 Tweets during Non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson
  19. 19. THE EVOLUTION OF A COLLECTIVE IDENTITY
  20. 20. 0% 8% 15% 23% 30% Brown Death Wilson Non- indictment DoJ Report One Year after Death Evolution of a Collective Identity on Twitter: #BlackLivesMatter (381,834 Tweets) 3rd 57th 3rd 2nd
  21. 21. #BlackLivesMatter Themes % # Blacks Killed with Impunity and Whites Not 43.24% 224 Displays of Solidarity and Activism 34.36% 178 Historical References to Discrimination 6.18% 32 Demands for Policy Changes 5.60% 29 Response to Race Card Claim 4.63% 24 Media Double Standard 3.86% 20 Humanizing Police Brutality victims 2.12% 11 Total 100% 518
  22. 22. Black Suspects Killed with Impunity While Whites Are Not
  23. 23. Displays of Activism
  24. 24. Historical References to Discrimination
  25. 25. Demands for Policy Changes
  26. 26. Humanizing Police Brutality Victims
  27. 27. THE COUNTER NARRATIVE
  28. 28. 0% 4% 7% 11% 14% 18% Brown Death Wilson Non- indictment DoJ Report One Year after Death #TCOT: The Counter Narrative (331,439 Tweets) 4th 6th 1st 14th
  29. 29. #TCOT Themes % # Validating Justifiable Homicides 26.25% 110 White Victims of Black Criminality 21.72% 91 #BLM as Radical Terrorists 14.80% 62 Black Problems for Black People 14.32% 60 Media Double Standard 11.69% 49 Tokenizing Examples of Blackness 8.35% 35 Humanizing Police Officers 2.86% 12 Total 100% 419
  30. 30. Validating Justifiable Homicides
  31. 31. White Victims of Black Criminality
  32. 32. #BLM as Radical Terrorists
  33. 33. Media Double Standard
  34. 34. Tokenizing Examples of Blackness
  35. 35. Humanizing Law Enforcement
  36. 36. CONCLUSION O Social Media are a platform for the formation of collective identities and execution of collective action in social movements O Collective identities associated with Ferguson on Twitter O Leaders on Twitter mimic leaders identified by mainstream media O Activity on Twitter is closely linked to offline activity
  37. 37. Where We Are Going From Here? O Intersectionality and social movements O Postcolonialism indigenous movements and movements in developing countries O A Digital Social Psychology? O Partnership with MITH to a repository for new forms of data to conduct social science research on race and social inequality O Ethnography and in-depth interviews to examine 21st century social justice efforts
  38. 38. O Rashawn Ray O Neil Fraistat O Edward Summers O University of Maryland Critical Race Initiative Melissa Brown mcbrown@umd.ed u

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