When do Black Lives Matter?

Sarah Ceja, Editor-In-Chief

Black Lives Matter has in many ways monopolized the news as well as our social media feeds, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But why does media coverage and commentary on such a powerful movement decline sharply after the anger from a new tragedy has faded into the background?

The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has dominated social media platforms like Twitter since 2014, initially surfacing in 2013 as a reaction to the acquittal Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, who fatally shot Martin on the basis of mere suspicion.

With each moment that sparks anger within our communities, we see the campaign exposed substantially more in terms of media coverage, whether it’s large protests or simple tweets.

According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, the hashtag went from being used about 30 times a day on Twitter in 2013, to an average of nearly 60,000 times a day following the death of Mike Brown. This total nearly tripled after Darren Wilson, the one responsible for young Brown’s death, was not indicted for the crime he committed.

The graph labeled “Succession of events Recasts Spotlight on Twitter Hashtags” below depicts the use of the #blacklivesmatter hashtag with respect to ongoing events:

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Evidently, following the deadly shooting of 5 police officers in Dallas, the hashtag was used over 1.1 million times, which was nearly six times as often as its previous peak of about 190,000 times.

One thing that can be taken from this chart is certain – the numbers peak after tragedy, and steadily decline until something new is brought to the forefront of the press.

Take the time to think: when was the last time you saw a Black Lives Matter protest on the news?

For most of us, it was likely following the death of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, which both happened in less than a 24 hour span beginning on July 5 of this year.

Maybe it was a protest closer to home, like when hundreds of BLM protesters occupied a section of the 405 freeway in Inglewood just six days after the aforementioned shootings.

Might it surprise you to know that there have been close to 1,500 BLM protests in the past 780 days? How many of these have you heard of?

Looking now to the Black Lives Matter Web page itself, there are no events listed for now or months to come, and that will likely change depending on what unknown events will occur in the days to come.

This is understandable, especially when taking into account how much easier it is to earn readership or reach a bigger audience when you give the people something that feeds into their emotions at the time, as opposed to presenting them with facts about what’s not on their minds.

Black Lives Matter is a “call to action… an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise,” says Alicia Garza, co founder of the movement,  “It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”

Do not let such a powerful movement run solely on wavering emotions in the aftermath of affliction, but make the longing for justice carry on until it is attained, without having to sacrificing the lives of those victims to come.

How much more tragedy will we endure before we decide to claim what rightfully belongs to us?