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Understanding & Dismantling Privilege: The Official Journal of the White Privilege Conference and the Matrix Center for the Advancement of Social Equity and Inclusion

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Black lives matter movement -- United States, Race discrimination, Civil rights, Political activists -- United States


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 antiracist 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 antiracist organizing. We explore these profiles in depth, and conclude with recommendations for White activists engaged in BLM.


Amie Thurber was affiliated with Vanderbilt University at the time of publication.

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Social Work Commons