The killing of George Floyd by a police officer in the state of Minnesota, has confronted the people of the United States in particular and the Western World in general about the existence of deep-rooted racism which has remained even after the Civil Rights movement and many decades of progress.
This article explains the BLM movement, it's nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize as well as its symbolics importance in the lives of the black people. In other words, it looks back at the journey of this racial justice movement as a Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.
What is the Black Lives Matter movement?
The BLM movement started in 2013 after George Zimmerman—a white man—shot dead—black teen—Trayvon Martin—to death in 2012. The term “Black Lives Matter” was taken from the tweet of a woman named Alicia Garza, which turned into a trending hashtag and later into the name of the whole movement, co-founded by herself, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi.
The movement aims at equality and racial justice for Black people and highlights the injustices and oppression against them.
Furthermore, there is also strong resistance from the police and usage of military weapons against the black protestors as compared to the white ones, a kind of systematic racism which was clearly visible during the Storming of the Capitol Hill.
When a black person named George Floyd was killed by a white police officer in Minnesota on 25 May last year, the movement gained momentum and there were solidarity protests not only in America, around the globe—including countries like the UK, France, Australia and Germany. There were even violent protests in some parts of the US, and in some places the right wing groups clashed with these protestors.
The Movement Growing Profusely
A pro-right wing ruling government, where the President himself was criticised for being racist on several occasions and the upcoming elections led to increasing dissent—furthering the growth of the movement. George Floyd became the face of the movement along with many other black people who lost their lives before due to systematic racism—some names in the unfortunately endless list were Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, . The movement also started getting the support of Hollywood celebrities, who supported the movement on their social media handles.
Amidst of all this, a similar killing of yet another black person, named Jacob Blake happened, which sparked the protests further.
“The group has called for defunding the police for at least five years”, Black Lives Matter Los Angeles co-founder Melina Abdullah told CNN. Some of the protestors believe that defunding the police could decrease such incidents.
In June, after pressure from BLMLA and massive protests, the Los Angeles City council unanimously approved a measure to develop an unarmed model of crisis response that would replace police officers with community-based responders for nonviolent calls.
Corrine Basabe, a black woman, started the George Floyd Justice Billboard Committee. Because of that, there are also billboards in cities like Los Angeles, New York and Washington DC, which are made for people to see regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and the killing of George Floyd. This way, many people driving through the roads could be reminded of what happened.
Featuring an oil painting by New York City artist Donald Perlis, a white, the billboards also include a quote from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." His painting was also displayed in New York’s Times Square.
When asked what she hopes for BLM's future, co-founder Patrisse Cullors said she knows the movement will win. "I know this because our work is full of love, healing and dignity," she said. "And we centre Black people's humanity and life over our death and decimation."
The movement faced backlash from various right-wing groups like The American Patriot and Proud Boys. There was a slogan “All Lives Matter” from the Anti-BLM protestors, which minimises the problems faced by the black community in their daily lives. The then President Donald Trump also refused to condemn the right-wing groups and he defended the police instead of supporting the Black people’s cause.
In Arizona, Rep. Walt Blackman, a Black GOP member of the Arizona Legislature labelled BLM as a “terrorist organisation” in an interview with Fox News Radio affiliate KFYI.
There are a lot of post-truth narratives defaming the BLM movement.
Nomination for Nobel Peace Prize
As mentioned earlier, the BLM movement has been nominated for the 2021 Nobel peace prize, for the way they spread and called for a systematic change in the world, through non-violent protests. It has been nominated by a Norwegian MP.
In his nomination papers, the Norwegian MP Petter Eide said the movement had forced countries outside the US to tackle racism within their own societies.
“I find that one of the key challenges we have seen in America, but also in Europe and Asia, is the kind of increasing conflict based on inequality,” Eide said. “Black Lives Matter has become a very important worldwide movement to fight racial injustice. They have had a tremendous achievement in raising global awareness and consciousness about racial injustice.”
He said that one other thing that impressed him about the BLM movement was the way “they have been able to mobilise people from all groups of society, not just African-Americans, not just oppressed people, it has been a broad movement, in a way which has been different from their predecessors.” He has previously nominated human rights activists from Russia and China for the prize.
His written nomination concludes: “Awarding the peace prize to Black Lives Matter, as the strongest global force against racial injustice, will send a powerful message that peace is founded on equality, solidarity and human rights, and that all countries must respect those basic principles.”
Nominations for the Nobel peace prize are accepted from any politician serving at a national level, and they are allowed only 2,000 words to state their reasons. This year’s deadline was February 1, and the committee prepares a shortlist by the end of March. The winner is chosen in October and the award ceremony is scheduled for 10 December. The World Food Programme was the winner last year.
The movement deserves the nomination, and if it is declared the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, then it’s going to be a huge win for the Black people and will give a push towards an ideal where there will be no racism.