The Art Of The Protest

I was on my way home from the gym the other day listening to talk radio and comments that were made on air centering around protest really intrigued me. It intrigued me enough to call in and make a few comments myself on the matter.  The topic had to do with effective ways to make minority businesses more prominent and how to get more minority owned products into large businesses like a Walmart or Target.  

One of the things that caught my attention happened to be a comment made by one caller stating how he didn't like how The Black Lives Matter movement was conducting their protests and that if we wanted to see change that we should ask minority college athletes to protest and strike to make a real impact.  I thought to myself how little sense that made. The first thing that the gentlemen didn't take into mind is that college athletics has nothing to do with businesses such as Target, Walmart, or the purpose and point of Black Lives Matter.  

The reason the protest and strikes at the University of Missouri worked is because the goal of the athletes and student body was to push for change at the University itself.  Do you get it? If you have an issue with something then you have a protest or strike that directly affects that person or organization that you are taking issue with.  You don't protest or strike with something that has nothing to do with your final goal or source of conflict.  

 The  student led protest at the University of Missouri  was organized and successful.

NCAA licensed products probably make up a fraction of a percent of the sales and inventory of a Walmart or Target.  Student athletes protesting by refusing to participate wouldn't affect those companies at all.  The only ones who it would affect would be the athletes and it would do so with potentially harsh consequences.  You see, what a lot of people don't know is that a "full ride" technically isn't a full ride anymore.  

I was a college athlete once and anyone who has participated in Division I or II college athletics will tell you that your scholarship has to be renewed every year. It's something that is totally at the discretion of your coach and institution.  So if you don't perform up to standards one year, then your scholarship can effectively be taken away at the end of the school year.  

If you're going to ask these young men and women to risk their education (for some, a scholarship is their only way to an education and out of horrible living conditions), then have them risk it for something they can help bring change to and an issue that directly affects them such as their school or the NCAA itself. Having these athletes protest a business by not playing their sport which has no effect on the intended target would be like me protesting conditions at my job by not paying my rent. My apartment management has nothing to do with what happens at my job and my job in fact helps me pay rent at my apartment.  

So at the end of the day, my little protest wouldn't affect my place of work at all.  They would continue as normal and I would wind up being evicted and kicked out of my house.  In the end, work would still be miserable (I love my job by the way) and my personal conditions would have gotten worse.  That adds up to a totally ineffective protest doesn't it?  

If you want to protest a place, person, or an organization you first need to have a clear set of grievances that you want to address.  After airing those grievances your protest should directly correlate and affect your target!  That means if it's a business that you take issue with then organize and make sure that all who agree with your purpose also agree to stop spending dollars at that place of business and or help divert dollars from that place of business until the financial hit is so extreme that the owners are willing to sit and negotiate terms with you about your cause.  

If your protest is against a person, make sure to apply pressure by informing all those who come in contact with that individual, about your grievances and how it can affect them directly or indirectly until the pressure is to much for that one person to ignore.  And last but not least, you need to be vigilant and purposeful in your protest. You need to be steadfast, disciplined, and organized.  You can't quit in a matter of weeks or days.

You must endure until you are heard and change is materializing.  You must be disciplined in your methods and you must be organized. Plenty of protests fall on def ears because they lack one or all of these important traits.  Many people lack the endurance to effectively protest.  Companies simply wait people out until they go home and stop shouting.  Or they manage to find the chink in the armor and conjur ways to divide the protestors because they aren't organized enough or don't have a clear goal in site.  

 The Alabama Bus Boycott left many city busses in Birmingham empty. 

The Alabama Bus Boycott left many city busses in Birmingham empty. 

Folks are quick to mention the success of the bus boycott in Alabama years ago but few take the time to realize how organized the boycott was, how people stuck together and helped one another car pool to work or walk in groups if possible.  Few realize or comment on the fact that the boycott itself actually lasted about a year if I'm not mistaken, before it managed to make a big enough effect to where laws were changed and African Americans were no longer required to sit in the back of the bus or give their seats up to Caucasion counterparts.  

So yes protests and strikes do work and they are an effective, nonviolent way to force change in your environment.  But not without proper preparation and knowledge of how to conduct your protest.  Remember that protesting is an art, albeit one that isn't seen on a canvas.  But it is an art nonetheless which is pure beauty when executed the right way!  Fight on my friends.