“Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop”: The Future of the Black Lives Matter Movement Following the Summer of Resistance

By Olanrewaju Paul Olubayo

May 25th, 2020 will come to represent one of the most monumental and transformative moments in modern world history. In the midst of a global pandemic of unprecedented proportions, the world was left scarred and, hopefully, forever changed as four former Minneapolis Police Officers tortured George Floyd, kneeling on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Ignoring his cries for help, his pleading for his deceased mother, all the while wholly disregarding his warnings that he could not breathe, just as easily as they disregarded his right to life.

George Floyd’s murder has undeniably left an irreversible stain on our world. However, sadly, Mr. Floyd’s murder does not exist within a vacuum. Rather, his murder represents just the tip of a much deeper, darker and depressing iceberg.

An iceberg filled with the tragic stories of Black people and people of colour murdered due to the blatant disregard for their life. Stories like that of Breonna Taylor, a 27-year-old Emergency Medical Technician, murder by Louisville Police Officers Brett Hankinson, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove while she slept in her own home.

Stories like Shukri Abdi, a 12-year-old bright schoolgirl, who was bullied, jeered and laughed at by her peers in Bury, Greater Manchester as they watched her drown.[1]

Stories like Joao Pedro Matos Pinto, a 14-year-old, young, gifted, Black Brazilian boy murdered by police in Rio de Janerio in June of this year. This  in itself represents only a tiny portion of the systemic issue of police violence against black people within the nation.[2]

The stories are vast and varied, they span across nations, generations and cultures. But they all tell the same story of discrimination, anti-blackness and a criminal disregard for black bodies.

In the days, weeks and months since the all-too tragic murder of George Floyd, the world has expressed its anger, outrage and hurt at these incidents, whilst also expressing the need to bring an end to the structures and institutions which facilitate and enable such systemic abuses.

Mainstream media outlets have shifted their attention away from the revolutionary protests which have continued to this day. While The rampant levels of social media advocacy have slowed, and elected officials have begun to focus on other areas of policy, it is centrally important that we as a people do not allow the issue of racial justice to, once again be pushed into the background. As the initial phase of activism comes to an end, it is critical that now, more than ever, we continue to fight for equality, equity and justice across all races. In order to do this, we need to ensure that we are addressing the problem of racism and anti-blackness in an intentional, strategic and calculated manner.

The question before us is, of course, how do we go about this? How do we channel the anger, hurt and energy displayed over the past few months into tangible long-term advocacy? How do we utilize the global nature of this struggle to our advantage?

As the issues before us are transnational in nature, they thus call for transnational solutions. They call for a detailed understanding and appreciation of the plight of Black people in Brazil, China and South Africa, on a level commensurate to the understanding of the plight of Black people in the United States and the United Kingdom. We need to engage in a systematic transnational sharing of knowledge, methods and tactics in a manner above any other movement in modern world history. As we move forward in the fight for Black liberation, now more than ever we need a mass transnational mobilization of forces against the international vestiges and manifestations of racism and anti-blackness.

As people, and a collective, we need to be restless, intentional and unrelenting in the pressure we apply to governments, corporations and public institutions for the anti-black sentiments they propagate. We must continually apply pressure and hold each of these bodies accountable to the laws, policies and actions which they have promised to uphold as they promote and increase racial equality. However, as the protests and demonstrations subsist, we must be mindful in ensuring that our advocacy does not. It must be ensured that although we are beginning to see a return to some semblance of normalcy in public life, this does not equate to a growing sentiment of complacency in activism.

In the push for racial justice across all facets of human existence, we must ensure a continuation of the mass pressure and public outcry, which has been demonstrated over the past four months. As individuals and as a collective community, we need to be diligent and deliberate to feign off the tendency to regress into a disgruntled acquiescence, rather than continue our active resistance.

In order to truly purge our society of the stain of racism and anti-blackness, there needs to be a thorough and true acceptance and exploration into the historical, and present day, crimes of nations, governments and institutions which have broadcasted some of the most extreme racist and discriminatory views known to man. In doing this, we must continue the work of decolonising school curriculums across every level of education to ensure we foster an educated populace, informed on how both historical and present-day manifestations of racism harbour devastating results within our communities.

Critically, the fight to better protect and champion Black people, and particularly Black women, within our healthcare system must be continued at all costs. The Coronavirus pandemic has proven, once again, that society is only strong and healthy when all persons are able to have free access to an adequate healthcare system which caters to their individual needs. However sadly, far too often, Black people are mistreated, disrespected and dismissed within the administration of healthcare. Thereby leaving many disproportionately affected by typically treatable ailments and diseases. Whilst also cultivating a level of scepticism towards healthcare systems and institutions within the Black community. As a society, we must champion the development of a healthcare system – and medical personnel – which listens to, respects and responds appropriately to Black women who complain of abnormal pains during pregnancy and childbirth. Whilst respecting the voices and autonomy of Black patients who seek care.

Additionally, we need to be unrelenting in addressing the lethal culture of racism and anti-blackness within the medium of policing. Whether it be the grave extent of state-sanctioned extrajudicial killings in Brazil. The systematic culture of police violence, brutality and murder which continues to permeate through all aspects of life within the United States. Or, the vicious and discriminatory culture of stop and search which allows police forces across the United Kingdom to indiscriminately target Black people in a manner which represents a gross invasion of privacy and violation of basic human rights. Society needs to come together to address, tackle and overthrow the destructive manner in which policing is conducted against Black people the world over.

In closing, I would like to echo the words of UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia & Related Intolerance, Ms. E Tendayi Achiume, in stating;

“The World is witnessing the largest ever transnational mobilization against systemic racism…”.[3]

What’s truly unfortunate, is that it required the untimely deaths of George Floyd, Belly Mujina, Joao Pedro Matos Pinto, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Oluwatoyin Salau, Tina Ezekwe, Shukri Abdi, Rayshard Brooks and the attempted murder of Jacob Blake, to spark this mass mobilization.

In order for us to bring about the day where Black people and minority communities more widely can feel safe, welcomed and championed within White Western Democracies, it is required that all of us are actively pushing back against both large-scale violations & the tiniest fragments and examples of racism and anti-blackness within our communities. For the movement to meet the goals which have been set out, it require us all to recognise the moral duty we have to undo the white supremacist superstructure which continues to threaten Black lives every minute of every day.

To that end I call upon any and everyone who reads these words to look internally and question whether you are doing enough to undo the crippling cycle of racism within your community. Are you speaking out against family members who may hold “controversial views”? Are you calling out microaggression when you see them and preventing such behaviour from reoccurring? Are you still struggling to pronounce names of African descent, whilst easily reeling off the name of every character in Game of Thrones? Are you signing petitions, contacting elected officials and following the guidance of advocacy groups to find out how best you can be of help to the movement? Above all, are you ensuring that every day you exist in a manner which actively opposes the white supremacist superstructure and fights for Black Lives? Or are you slowing down in your anger, advocacy and activism and regressing, at best, into a state of passive resistance and acquiescence? 

Paul Olubayo is a graduate of the University of Minnesota’s Class of 2020 Master of Human Rights Program, where his focus was Human Rights Law & International Justice. Paul is also a 2018 Keele University LLB Bachelor of Laws Graduate. In his professional career Paul has conducted Human Rights based work at the local, national & international level, and has worked in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

Correspondence is welcomed at: Twitter: @paulolubayo LinkedIn: Paul Olubayo Email: Olubayop21@gmail.com
Additionally, you can find Paul’s publications and public appearances at: https://linktr.ee/Paul_Olubayo

[1] D Taylor, “Other Children Laughed as Shukri Abdi Drowned in River”, The Guardian, 26/02/2020,

<available at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/feb/26/other-child-laughed-as-shukri-abdi-drowned-in-river-inquest-told>.

[2] T Phillips, “Black Lives Shattered: Outrage as boy, 14, is Brazil Police’s latest victim”, The Guardian, 03/06/2020,

<available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/03/brazil-black-lives-police-teenager>.

[3] E Tendayi Achiume, Urgent Debate on Racially Inspired Human Rights Violations – 40th Meeting, 43rd Regular Session Human Rights Council, 17/06/2020.

<available at: http://webtv.un.org/live/watch/urgent-debate-on-racially-inspired-human-rights-violations-40th-meeting-43rd-regular-session-human-rights-council/6165006613001/?term=#player>.

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