I live in Laurel Canyon, a (very) mainly white neighbourhood of Los Angeles. Recently the front gardens have made a few additions:
So that’s the spread of BLM endorsement in a white neighbourhood. Many other parts of LA have been decorated with similar messages, as have many other parts of the world.
When Eric Garner died in 2014, BLM was generating around 40,000 tweets a day; in the last month that has risen to 8 million. Of course that growth has come as a result of an incredibly strong grassroots movement, inspired and fueled by many further instances of racial injustice.
But the other reason for the increase has been a masterstroke of branding. ‘Black Lives Matter’ is the name of the organisation, but it’s also the name of the rallying cry. So anyone can take it on without permission, giving it the energy it needs to spread far and wide without the need to go through committees or branding teams.
And that means it can live in the examples above, but also in brilliant work such as this piece of film:
The director, Meena Ayittey explains,
“There are no words that can describe that feeling in the pit of my stomach when I watched George Floyd being murdered on camera. I was driven by disbelief and anger when I conceived the idea for this project.
“The footage that we see of regular shootings of unarmed black men in the USA was more powerful than anything that I could film myself so I wanted to make that the main focus of the film. We have seen these police shootings so many times that it can be almost easy to become immune to the grotesque brutality embedded in these images.
“I wanted to catalogue the murders of these innocent people in a way that doesn’t shirk away from the real violence that people in our society are experiencing. The fury and of the speech by senator Flowers held the exact level of intensity I wanted. Her words expressing her anguish for her son’s life had a profound impact on me.
“For any Black or Brown person watching these images it’s like watching a family member, a father, an uncle, a son, being killed again and again. I feel that both the media and police in the USA in particular, often dehumanise these victims. I wanted to reverse this. I wanted people to remember that George Floyd, Philando Castle, Rodney King, Eric Garner, Michael Brown Jr and all the victims of police brutality had mothers. And to feel that insurmountable and devastating loss that anyone would feel after the murder of a family member.
“I totally agree that people can take the BLM movement on more easily. I also think that the enforcement of the lockdown has forced people to take stock of George Floyd’s murder and to assess their own feelings regarding the killings of Black people because there are none of the usual distractions such as commuting to work, getting kids to school etc. These killings have been going on for decades but this one feels different. The celebrities and brands that are pledging their alliance to BLM might be slightly hypocritical in some instances but I think that’s also giving the cause a lot of momentum.“
If any of you are wondering how you might make a difference to that movement, the brief is always out there.
Take it on like Meena and my neighbours, and spread the word.