Twitter K-pop Stan Become The Unforeseen Ally to Black Live Matter: Is It The New Age of Digital Movement?
Thu, 02 Jul 2020 || By Perdana Karim

Opening

Due to social and civil unrest within the US, protests, and riots have broken out all over the states. The catalyst for this massive social movement was caused by the murder of George Floyd by the hands of police officers' misconduct. Videos of George's last minutes were recorded and went viral all over the internet promoting the message "I can't breathe" as George was suffocated by police officers to the point of strangling him and leading him to his untimely death.[i] George's death may have been the catalyst for the movements that we see right now, not only within the US but also globally. His death was only the tip of the iceberg in what is in actuality, a deep trench of systemic racism.[ii] This social and civil unrest is not something new within the US; it has been something that has lasted through centuries and has never found its way to end itself. Thus, the social movement Black Lives Matter (BLM) was born due to this unrest. The protests that are happening right now are not something new.  Black people have been fighting and protesting for their civil rights to be given to them for decades. Years of peaceful protest have not yearned the results that these people seek, which is why the protests have escalated to the point of riots. This article will not talk about whether or not these riots are justified, but this researcher would like to remind people that MLK once said, "riot is the voice of the unheard". This article will talk about how Twitter has helped the BLM movement into a successful one with Resource Mobilization Theory (RMT)  as its analysis. 
 

What is RMT?

RMT, in short, is a branch of political process approach that explains that social movements are successful merely not because they have a chance to (i.e elections, coup d'etat), but because of how these people can organize and manage the movement with the available resources that they have.[iii] RMT also talks about how the utilization of new media can help movements as a resource. New media, in this case, is social media such as Twitter. But to determine whether or not a movement can be considered successful or not, there needs to be a clear parameter for it. The parameter that can be used to determine whether or not this BLM social movement can be considered as success can be determined by two points with two different scopes. If we see this from a smaller scope, then this movement is regarded as a success if the movement manages to 1) raise awareness regarding racism towards black people and 2) justice for George Floyd. But if we are seeing this at a larger scale then the two points would be; 1) to successfully raise awareness regarding any forms of racism towards marginalized people, and 2) to create a fair and just system that treats all people within the same level without any existing prejudice regardless of their, but not limited to, race, sexuality, gender, and religion. 
 

The Role of Twitter as a Resource

What’s interesting about the recent social movements is how it transcends borders. In the US itself, almost all 50 states have in one way or another enacted these protests, a feat unheard of so far in the history of the US.[iv] Not only that, but many other countries also participate in these movements by voicing out their problems against racism that they too see in their countries.[v] This is all possible due to the rapidness that our information can spread. The internet has made it so that the information that we receive regarding what is happening in one place can be echoed out towards the whole world. 

Social media also plays a pivotal role in the success of this social movement. Researchers have realized that social media such as Twitter has been used by these protesters as a resource in echoing out their concerns and gathering masses. What makes Twitter different compared to conventional media and other social media platforms is that anyone can write about their opinions, and it can potentially become viral. The catalyst of the current BLM movement so far came from Twitter itself. That shows the scale of magnitude of how Twitter can impact people in real life. Many petitions were made in response towards the death of George Floyd with many people backing it up too. These protesters were able to fully organize and strategize their movement through the help of Twitter. One primary example is how K-Pop stans[vi] have managed to gather an amount of mass to help support this movement. Due to the sheer number of these stans, they have been able to not only cripple many police reporting systems due to these stans constantly spamming their fancams[vii], but also overriding the #whiteouttuesday that was happening on Instagram in response to #blackouttuesday.[viii] Not only that, but BTS Army’s[ix] were able to donate as much as $1 million towards the cause in only one day.[x] They did so because BTS had done the same and through solidarity, BTS Army chose to do the same.

Here are a few examples of tweets that have gone viral and have been circulating around Twitter for the BLM Movement that the researcher has stumbled upon without actively searching for them:[xi][xii][xiii][xiv][xv]

    
      

From the tweets above, we can see that there is a wide range of ways that people have voiced out their support towards the BLM movement. Whether it be with sharing memes to spread, using their platform to share petitions/donation links, or simply live reporting the protests that are going on, they are all in one way or another contributing towards the BLM movement discourse through Twitter as their resource. Through constant struggle and their voices being echoed, eventually, George Floyd was given justice. The four police officers are now faced with charges against them, Derek Chauvin is now charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter while the three others are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.[xvi] Although justice has finally been served for George Floyd, the struggle does not end here.

Conclusion

From the explanation above it is clear that Twitter has an impact towards the BLM movement. As also mentioned within the parameter of success according to the RMT analysis, although Twitter has successfully helped with the movement in a small scope, it has not done so with a larger scope. By focusing on the parameters of simply raising awareness and justice for George Floyd then it could be said that Twitter has successfully been used as a resource for the movement. But on the parameters of successfully raising awareness regarding any forms of racism towards marginalized people and creating a fair and just system that treats all people within the same level without any existing prejudice regardless of their, but not limited to, race, sexuality, gender, and religion, would take more than just Twitter as a resource.

Although the goal of achieving justice for George Floyd has been accomplished, this movement has always been more than just seeking out justice for one person. It has, and always has been, a movement to put the marginalized people in the same place as those who have been benefited by an inherent, sustaining, systematically, and systemic racist system.


Author: Perdana Karim
Editor: Amelinda Pandu Kusumaningtyas


Read more articles written by Perdana Karim
 


[i] The New York Times, 2020. How George Floyd Was Killed In Police Custody | Visual Investigations. [video] Available at: [Accessed 6 June 2020].

[ii] VICE, 2020. George Floyd: Who He Was And Who He Leaves Behind. [video] Available at: [Accessed 6 June 2020].

[iii] Jenkins, J., 1983. Resource Mobilization Theory and the Study of Social Movements. Annual Review of Sociology, [online] 9, pp.527-553. Available at: [Accessed 6 June 2020].

[iv] Burch, A., Cai, W., Gianordoli, G., McCarthy, M. and Patel, J., 2020. How Black Lives Matter Reached Every Corner Of America. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: [Accessed 15 June 2020].

[v] Erdekian, A., 2020. Powerful Photos Of Black Lives Matter Protests Around The World. [online] Condé Nast Traveler. Available at: [Accessed 15 June 2020].

[vi] an everyday Twitter slang that refers to individuals who are fans of K-pop artists,

[vii] Alexander, J., 2020. K-Pop Stans Overwhelm App After Dallas Police Ask For Videos Of Protesters. [online] The Verge. Available at: [Accessed 8 June 2020].

[viii] Haasch, P., 2020. K-Pop Stans Flooded The #Whitelivesmatter Hashtag On Twitter And Instagram With Fancams And Memes To Drown Out Racist Posts. [online] Insider. Available at: [Accessed 8 June 2020].

[ix] Fans of the idol group Bangtan Boys - commonly referred to as BTS Army.

[x] Kwak, K., 2020. BTS’ Fan ARMY Matches Group’S $1 Million Black Lives Matter Donation Within 24 Hours. [online] Variety. Available at: [Accessed 8 June 2020].

[xi] Twitter.com. 2020. Twitter. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 June 2020].

[xii] Twitter.com. 2020. Twitter. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 June 2020].

[xiii] Twitter.com. 2020. Twitter. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 June 2020].

[xiv] Twitter.com. 2020. Twitter. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 June 2020].

[xv] Twitter.com. 2020. Twitter. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 June 2020].

[xvi] Campbell, J., Sidner, S. and Levenson, E., 2020. All Four Former Officers Involved In George Floyd's Killing Now Face Charges. [online] CNN. Available at: [Accessed 6 June 2020].