By Danny Nikander
As a part of Hofstra’s Center for Civic Engagement’s Day of Dialogue held on Oct. 28, four panelists discussed the Black Lives Matter movement and its presence in the media. The event was moderated by filmmaker and RTVF adjunct professor, Stefani Saintonge.
According to the movement’s website, Black Lives Matter was created following the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, after his killer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted in court.
The website explains the significance of the movement to American culture.
“Rooted in the experiences of Black people in this country, who actively resist our de-humanization, #BlackLivesMatter is a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates our society.”
The panelists discussed the true meaning of Black Lives Matter (BLM) and the media’s role in manipulating how the movement is seen.
“It was hard to learn about these things and not be demoralized,” first-year public relations major, Allie Flowers said. “It’s demoralizing to know these things were and still are tolerated.”
The first panelist was Natasha Rowley, a Hofstra NAACP student representative. Rowley talked about the importance of social media, primarily Twitter, as a vital platform in the movement.
“Every day I see videos of a violent arrest,” Rowley said. “Social media helps get a large mobilization of people instantly.”
Pamela Brown writer, filmmaker, and activist was the second panelist. She currently attends The New School to fulfill a PhD in sociology with a focus in media. Brown is also co-host of the Morning Show on WBAI Radio.
“It’s way beyond the idea of policing,” Brown said. “I think the underlying idea behind the hashtag is the struggle for liberation.”
The panel also played a news clip from Fox News of a black cop calling the movement for being antipolice. The police officer argued the members of the movement just wanted to defy authority.
The panelists analyzed the footage by discussing media manipulation. They talked about news outlets’ coverage of police shootings by showing clips of BLM protests that had nothing to do with the police shooting itself. They argued that this type of media coverage is why many people think the movement is pro-violence.
“What if BLM did respond to police killings by using tactics of self-defense?” Brown said. “What would be so wrong with that statement? Any human being would argue that people have an absolute right to self-defense.”
Another panelist was Bob Law, a civil rights activist and host of Night Talk Radio. He discussed President Obama’s role in the matter and suggested that people believe the civil rights movement has ended because the leader of the United States is black.
“It was never one of the goals in the civil rights movement to have a black president,” Law said. “The goal was to get justice and equality. People point to black people in high positions and say they no longer need to worry about their issue. It provokes people to say all lives matter. Black Lives Matter doesn’t say any other life isn’t important. It just says we need to change our thinking about the lives of black people.”
“Why is this issue so different than Germany?” asked sophomore sociology major Piering. “They recognized their genocide. Here, people say get over it, and the fact that people aren’t told the full story of racism is why it is still prevalent.”
By Danny Nikander