The Convergence Culture of #BlackLivesMatter

Convergence culture is a new era of transition where “new and old media collide…..where grassroots and corporate media intersects, where the power of the media producer and the power of the media consumer interact in unpredictable ways” (Henry, 2006). New media consists of newspaper, radio, and TV, while new media consists of blogging, websites, and social media.

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Black Lives Matter depends greatly on convergence culture; BLM used social media (new media) to gain the attention of old media to ultimately gain the attention of society.  Through social media, Black Lives Matter is able to form a community to uplift one another and rally on ways to advocate for their people. One way BLM protesters are innovative in the use of technology to rally support is by their word choice. The study shows that “tweets related to the Black Lives Matter movement suggest that sadness, rather than anger, might be more effective in galvanizing people into action” (Safdar,2016) .

Scientists analyzed the emotions behind almost 29 million tweets about four events in 2014 and 2015 that led to Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in an attempt to identify patterns. Tweets with a higher level of “negative effect” and sadness, but lower on anger and anxiety were associated with larger rallies the following day, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) said. Over time, people changed their posting style, using fewer negative references such as “death”, instead opting for more social words such as “we” and “us” (Safdar,2016).

Even though new media was the platform Black Lives Matter launched, BLM supporters have incorporated old media to reach more potential supporters. For example, during the summer of 2016 in the wake of the police shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, Rapper Killer Mike, a BLM supporter, encouraged everyone to put $100 in a Black Owned bank. He called for at least “one million people in Atlanta to take $100 out of their existing accounts, put $100 into a Citizens Trust [Bank] account…take that $100 million and promise $15,000 to $18,000 loans for Black businesses or small homes,” the MC said on Atlanta’s Hot 107.9.

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His statement went viral; it was all over social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Even though it was meant to get the attention of white business owners to show that black lives matter because a good portion of their revenue stems from the black community, it caused a national trend. “This might mark the beginning of a new type of Black economic power movement encapsulated by simple social media hashtags like #BankBlack and #MoveYourMoney” (Gray,2016). Even though Killer Mike singled out Citizen’s Trust Bank, the effect of the #BankBlack was not only limited to Citizen’s Trust Bank; OneUnited Bank used this opportunity to promote their bank and align their values with the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Above is a picture OneUnited Bank used to encourage people to open an account with their banks. They used wording associated with Black Lives Matter to align themselves with the movement and their supporters which is an example of remix culture.

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OneUnited Bank used Black Lives Matter to promote their business just like how a lot of people against Black Lives Matter used BLM wording to promote their position on the issues such as #AllLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter. There is also memes floating around comparing Black Lives Matter to the Klu Klux Klan saying that BLM is a hate group, which I believe is absurd and incomparable because BLM does not aim to be violent towards law enforcement while the Klu Klux Klan “sought to overthrow the Republican state governments in the South during the Reconstruction Era, by using violence against African American leaders” (Wikipedia,2016).

However, I conclude with a picture that sums up BLM views on their critics and their oppositions.

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“Ku Klux Klan.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2016.

Gray, Madison. “A Movement to Put Black Banks in the Black.” EBONY. EBONY.COM, 12 Aug. 2016. Web. 02 Nov. 2016.

Jenkins, Henry. “Convergence Culture Pdf.” Ebooks Download. N.p., 2006. Web. 02 Nov. 2016.

Safdar, Anealla. “Black Lives Matter: The Social Media behind a Movement.” Al Jazeera. 2016 Al Jazeera Media Network, 3 Aug. 2016. Web. 02 Nov. 2016.

 

 

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