Graphic showing black people protesting

#BlackLivesMatter – beyond the hashtag

18th May 2020

Black lives matter (BLM) is a global activist movement which campaigns against racism, discrimination and violence towards black people.

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The movement began in 2013 after the killing of an innocent African-American teenager Trayvon Martin. This caused outrage among the black community, not only in the US but around the world. At the time the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter was created to share the protest on social media, causing global headline news, today it means so much more.

In the latest special issue published within Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, guest editors Kecia Thomas and Leslie Ashburn-Nardo explore the evidence of anti-black racism which currently appears within educational contexts, workplaces, and healthcare settings.

Here we highlight five key learnings that this research has unveiled.

1. BLM can reduce racial discrimination in the workplace

Research shows that today, black employees are persistently paid less than their white counterparts, experience more wage theft through overtime and minimum wage violations and are underrepresented in senior leadership positions and on corporate boards. This article proposes three ways to help organizations make black lives matter in the workplace, with the goal to intervene and upend the exploitation of black workers so that they are finally recognized for their worth and value, and treated as such.

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2. The representation of BLM in US media needs to change

This paper examines coverage of the (BLM) movement in seven US-based newspapers to make recommendations for media practitioners to avoid racialization of news.  The study found that language of crime, lawlessness, violence, blame for nearby acts of violence, and inflammatory quotes were often in the content about BLM, but there was little discussion of key issues associated with the formation of BLM.

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3. BLM can impact classroom teaching

The founding principles of Black Lives Matter, particularly diversity, intersectionality, loving engagement, and empathy, can be used to enhance and improve college teaching to make it more diverse and inclusive. This paper is valuable to those looking for specific strategies to include more diverse and inclusive teaching strategies. This research also shows both the utility and impact of Black Lives Matter when applied to higher education.

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4. Librarians have the power to influence change

This research paper highlights how libraries have the power to spread the knowledge about movements such as BLM and explores the implications that take place when this support is not given. Openly addressing the BLM movement by hosting community forums, invited speakers, displays, and programming can help community members understand the issues involved, and give them a larger context for understanding citizens’ rights.

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5. Organizations need to be doing more to support black employees

Racially traumatic events – such as police violence and brutality toward black people – affect individuals in and outside of work. This paper discuss the importance of both the availability and creation of resources to help employees to maintain effective workplace functioning, despite such difficult circumstances.

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