As we all know, communication is not just the act of sending the message, but communication is complete when the message is received. This couldn’t be more visible than when conflict and tension is involved. As the race conversation has been elevated over the past couple of years, what and how people talk about these matters can either leave messages left un-received or it can ensure that they are taken in and truly considered. There is no other communication or phrase that has been more visible or powerful or divisive or inspiring through these times than, “Black Lives Matter”. It has united millions and revealed just as many opponents.
Now that the landscape of the race conversation has changed over the past 3 years, we must ask a new question to ensure that more and more people are receiving the message. That question must evaluate how things went with round 1 and envision moving into round 2.
We must ask, “how does the communication need to change?”
When the phrase Black Lives Matter is spoken, who is the desired audience? What do they look like? What kind of jobs do they have? Where do they live? What kind of influence do they have?
When the people that identify with the BLM movement hold their signs up and chant during a demonstration, who are they hoping is listening to their cry and who do they believe is actually hearing?
If there is a spectrum that identifies a person’s partnership in the cause it might look something like this:
If this is true, when the marches happen, when the signs are lifted, when the Facebook statuses are posted, who is listening? The phrase is possibly reaching people as low as -1 or -2 on the spectrum. The movement has helped many take a step toward the right, and has moved many in the other direction. Are we noticing what moves people away? Are we evaluating and considering who is left out of this movement and seeking ways to inspire them toward positive change and win them over into the message?
Now, if you could put a percentage of people next to each of these markers, how do you think our country is split? Who is not listening? Where do they live? What jobs do they have? What do they look like? What struggles do they have? What do they value?
If the goal is not just to say the same thing in the same way over and over hoping that people somehow put their defenses down and lean in to listen, what kind of message do you think it would take to begin to reach those who were left out of the first movement? What helps reveal the importance of this message to those that are not listening? What kind of allies need to be developed and built in order to expand the movement into the places that were not reached by the first wave?
In this age of fast communication it seems unfair that something so powerful as Black Lives Matter could need to be updated after a quick 3 years, but if that needs to be done, how do you think must it change?