How Black Lives Matter’s Disruptive Tactics Are Forcing Us to Have a Conversation About Race

Black Lives Matter Minneapolis

When the Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter staged a 30-minute sit-in during Toronto’s Pride Parade, many people were upset to say the least. The group’s co-founder was subjected to racist emails immediately following the demonstration. To someone unfamiliar with civil disobedience, the aftermath of the sit-in would have resembled a public relations failure.

You may wonder why Black Lives Matter (also known as BLM) resorts to using controversial tactics to get their message out. Don’t they want popular support?

But unlike a corporate public relations campaign, BLM activists are not trying to win a popularity contest. They are trying to start a tough conversation that they believe can only be achieved through disruption. Classic civil disobedience.

Whether you agree with them or not, BLM’s actions appear to be working. Just check out the few examples below.

Toronto Pride Parade sit-in

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BLM activists staged a 30-minute sit-in during the Toronto Pride Parade. The activists would only move on after an event organizer signed on to their list of demands, which included a ban on police floats. Though many were outraged by BLM’s actions, the sit-in has brought a national spotlight to the police’s relationship with the black community.

Taking the mic from Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders for President

Disrupting a Bernie Sanders speech seemed odd, given the U.S. senator’s lifelong support of civil rights issues. But that’s exactly what BLM did. Following the disruption, Sanders added a racial justice platform and hired a racial justice activist as his national press secretary.

Disrupting Donald Trump rallies

Donald Trump in Ottumwa, Iowa

Unlike Bernie Sanders, who treated BLM protesters with relative respect, Donald Trump and his supporters openly antagonized the protesters, throwing the occasional punch and racial slur. These early violent encounters helped open America’s eyes to the ugly racial rhetoric of Trump’s campaign.

Meeting Kathleen Wynne at home

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne with partner Jane Rounthwaite, Centre for Social Innovation, 2-year anniversary. Tonya Surman, David Gise, Adil Dhalla, Ilana Ben-ari – Jason Hargrove Street Fashion, Style Life, May 15, 2015

BLM demonstrated in front of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s home following the death of Andrew Loku. Eventually, Wynne met with the group outside Toronto’s Queen’s Park to discuss their demands.

In conclusion, many people may hate BLM’s disruptive tactics. But there is no denying that their actions are forcing us to have a conversation about racism in North America. And that’s the whole point.

How do you feel about BLM’s disruptive tactics? Leave a comment below to further discuss! You can also sign up for my email list to receive more posts related to communications and the media!

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John Gilson

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