Staying off the megaphone and in the movement: Cultivating solidarity and contesting authority among white anti-racist activists

Amie Thurber, Kelley Frances Fenelon, Leah Marion Roberts

Abstract


In the last two years, Black Lives Matter (BLM) emerged as a multiracial movement which foregrounds the experience, leadership, and values of Black people in the United States while suggesting distinct roles for White people to participate. Among these suggestions is the compellingly illustrative to ‘stay off the megaphone.’ This exploratory, participatory case study traces how a group of White activists grapple with the literal and figurative megaphone in their anti-racist activism.  We focus on three key dimensions of engagement: content (how do White activists engage the megaphone – literally and figuratively?), subject positions (how are White activists positioning themselves within the BLM movement?), and social relations (how are White activists positioning their relationships with the movement’s values and leaders?). Grounded theory analysis reveals three distinct activist profiles, each bringing particular strengths – as well as limitations – to anti-racist organizing. We explore these profiles in depth, and conclude with recommendations for White activists engaged in BLM.


Keywords


Social Movements; Race; Activism

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