Why We Continue to Demonstrate
The other day as I stood on that corner, in the pouring unrelenting rain, I wondered if it mattered, if we were making a difference. It is certainly easier to commit to a cause when the sun is shining down on you.
So, I came home and did some research on the effectiveness of demonstrations. Here’s what I found.
Jelani Ince and Zackary Dunevin, with University of Washington and Indiana University respectively, reported in their March 30, 2022 article “Black Lives Matter protests are shaping how people understand racial inequality” (The Conversation) that there is a distinct uptick in people researching the deeper and broader aspects of racial ideas such as “systemic racism”, “redlining” and “The New Jim Crow”.
From the Brookings Institute comes the article by Andre M. Perry and Carl Romeo, published August 28, 2020 “Protesting is as important as voting”. In this article you will find a list of actions that occurred due to ongoing protests, including the arrest of police officer Derek Chauvin for George Floyd’s murder. While other actions such as voting are effective for policy change, protests cause action-taking that may not, or would definitely not, have happened without the very public outcry of injustice.
For those of you who are ready for a longer research article, check out the July 2022 report “Protest movements: How effective are they?” By James Ozden and Sam Glover, published in the research entity Social Change Lab. Through their extensive research the authors concluded there is evidence pointing towards a small but positive impact on policy change and public opinion, and an increase in public discourse.
What did I learn from this? First, I see that the topic has been of interest to researchers from many institutions, so I know that you and I are not the only people to ask this question. To me, this means that protests are important in our society, especially large protests. How about enduring movements? Of course we know that women’s suffrage was passed only after more than 40 years of action, so we know that enduring movements can be effective and sometimes necessary.
But I also go back to one of our BIG members who regularly demonstrates. She tells me, “some of those people who used to flip us off are now waving and smiling”. That my friends is a sign of a successful ongoing demonstration.
If you’d like to join us, we are on the corner from 2pm to 3pm on Fridays, and from 3:30pm to 4:30pm on Wednesdays.