Street Protest, COVID-19, and Intersectionality
As hundreds of thousands of people across the world take to the streets to demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and call for a halt to police violence and racism towards Black individuals and communities, the power of public protest is undeniable. Not only are the protestors drawing attention to police violence and structural racism, they played a role in elevating the charges against Floyd’s murderer and accomplices, instigated a global conversation about anti-Black racism and police funding, and even paved the road for proposed legislative changes. History surely shows the significance of protest. It generates concrete outcomes and reform. It establishes community and solidarity among activists, and it draws attention to an issue of social concern to the broader population.
History also shows, however, that public protest is not particularly inclusive. For example, protest routes and large crowds are not always conducive to someone in a wheelchair or with mobility challenges; Black protesters and gender non-conforming individuals in particular are more vulnerable to police brutality or assault at protests than other individuals; in mixed-gender protest, gender inequality is common, and women are less likely than men to be spokespeople or mic-holders. An intersectional lens allows us to fully understand the dynamics of street protest—who is participating, who is not, and how street protest fits into the broader context of social change.
Having spare time to protest while working for pay or caretaking in the home is unlikely. The many men who are significantly less likely to be burdened with caregiving responsibilities have more time to protest.
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