While massively controversial social movements, such as Black Lives Matter and MeToo, are at the forefront of the media and our minds, social movements are a staple to the American way of life, and are a guaranteed freedom that citizens are granted by the Constitution.
The controversies surrounding recent social movements have painted a them in a negative light. Whether good or bad, social movements give the average person a platform to be heard, bring issues to the table to be talked about and even change society no matter how minuscule the problem may seem.
When President Trump was elected, women all over America marched in their cities in solidarity for women’s respect and to stand up against President Trump’s past remarks about women. This movement gave a voice to regular women, and due to the massive scale of the marches, gave them a huge media platform.
While the movement lost traction, during its peak women were able to raise concerns about how men treat women, and open the conversation for how women should be respected.
Ocean pollution has a been a problem that environmental reformers have battled, but over the summer they moved their focus from the broad issue of ending pollution to the small focus of ending the use of plastic straws.
The catalyst was a video that when viral of a turtle that had a plastic straw stuck in its nose which had to be pried out using pliers and left the turtle bleeding and in pain. According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, over 500 million straws are floating around in the ocean.
The Plastic Pollution Coalition pushes people to move away from using plastic straws to lessen the plastic problem. The movement gained momentum, and companies–like Starbucks–even joined the movement and designed straw-less lids for patrons to use. All of this, while the state of California banned the use of plastic straws.
A seemingly small movement was able to change society and work toward taking the plastic pollution of the oceans more seriously, eventually having legislation pass in favor of their mission. This proves social movements can have a positive impact on the world and shift people’s mindsets.
The issue of police brutality has been around for a while, however the recent Black Live Matter movement and the “taking a knee” movement have brought widespread attention to the issue in modern times. While these two movements are extremely controversial, it cannot be denied that both movements did bring up an issue to be talked about, and have remained in the forefront of the media for a while, which in this age of 15-minute-fame is a difficult task to accomplish.
While it is worth noting that social movements can get out-of-hand in the issues they defend and in how they defend them, American citizens are allowed to the freedom of speech, assembly and petition.
Social movements are crucial to the American democracy, and bridge the gap between lawmakers, big business and average citizens. While they can garner both good and bad responses, in the end they are all meant to further a cause that can drastically change the lives of people living in this country. If you feel compelled to join a movement, no matter how small or controversial, join. Allowing your voice to be heard can change the trajectory of society.