Social Movements of the 2010 Decade

The past decade was ten years full of powerful social rights movements. The movements and protests that started or took place in the 2010s addressed issues such as the large wealth gap, the environment, and the rights of the African American community, women, and LGBTQ+ individuals, along with many more groups. Overall, inequality and ignorance were the top concerns of many people, and they demanded action. Inspired by previous social rights movements and a passion for working to solve the problems in the world that negatively affect the people, people fought to bring awareness to the many issues, and important action took place in the decade that will only continue to grow and move forward with the next.

   In 2011, Occupy Wall Street started the decade of social movements off strong. Occupy Wall Street, part of the larger Occupy movement, was a protest concerning social and financial inequality, as well as negative corporation influence. 

   Expressed by Occupywallst.org, “The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.” 

   Occupy was inspired by other similar movements like Arab Spring and the Spanish Indignados Movements. Originally initiated by the founder, Kalle Lasn and Micah White, an editor of a magazine called Adbusters, the protest movement started on September 17, 2011 and continued in many ways after. Taking place in the Wall Street financial district of New York City, in Zuccotti Park, protestors took action in large groups by petitioning leaders for action. Protestors used the methods of occupation, civil disobedience, picketing, demonstrations, and internet activism. 

   On November 15, 2011, after everyone was forced out of the park, many protesters began occupying buildings in places such as banks, business headquarters, meetings, closed houses, and universities. Though the activity of Occupy Wall Street is long gone and did not produce any major changes in the system, there are still many activists speaking about economic inequality and similar issues, pushing for change.

   Another social rights movement that was very impactful to the past decade was the Black Lives Matter movement. Forming in 2013, the movement speaks out and holds protests against racism, police brutality, and racial inequality, especially in the criminal justice system, all toward black people. 

   According to Blacklivesmatter.com, “The Black Lives Matter Global Network is a chapter-based, member-led organization whose mission is to build local power and to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.” 

  Introduced by the co-founders of the movement, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, the hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter started being used widely on social media after the trial of George Zimmerman, where Zimmerman acquitted after shooting and killing an African-American teenager, Trayvon Martin, without justifiable reason. Protesting Zimmerman’s killing of Martin, the “Million Hoodie March” took place in Union Square, Manhattan in 2012. 

   In 2014, the Black Lives Matter movement gained more support after the deaths of two more African Americans, Michael Brown and Eric Garner. These events led to street demonstrations and protests, most notably in Ferguson, Missouri and in New York City. Since then, there have been many more demonstrations against the deaths of other African Americans by police or while in custody. 

   In the new decade, the Black Lives Matter movement is stronger than ever. This year, the movement is focusing on the 2020 election and disinformation. 

   In the 2010s, there were many important movements for women’s rights. One of the largest movements that started in the past decade for the rights of women was the Me Too Movement. This movement acts against sexual harassment and assault. Even though the phrase “Me Too” was first used on social media back in 2006, the movement gained a massive amount of attention starting in 2017. In October of that year, the phrase began circulating social media as a hashtag, #MeToo. The main situation that led to this were the allegations of sexual abuse against Harvey Weinstein in that same month. Following this incident, Alyssa Milano, an actress, made a Twitter post that created a response from many other women. 

   The Twitter post by Milano read, “If all the women who have ever been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, then we give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” After these powerful words were stated, many other celebrities followed suit and joined the movement, speaking out about their experiences, helping it grow. Tarana Burke, the activist that coined the phrase “Me Too” in 2006, said that the purpose of the movement is to empower women through strength and empathy by showing how many women have been impacted by sexual assault and harassment. Also in the 2010s, many Women’s Marches occurred throughout the United States that helped raise awareness for various issues that directly affect women and protested for action in large gatherings.

   The 2010s were full of huge victories for the LGBTQ+ community. A large win for LGBTQ+ individuals was in June of 2011, when the United Nations Human Rights Council passed it’s first action that condemned discrimination against people in this community. Also in 2011, the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was abolished. This policy was previously used for LGBTQ+ US military members. The most notable victory occurred in June of 2015, with the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States. The Supreme Court ruled that marriage is a civil right protected by the Due and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. 

   According to Nytimes.com, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy stated, “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.” 

   Other nations of the world also took action, including the 18 other counties that also legalized same-sex marriage. 

   Another popular and growing issue in the past decade was environmental or climate activism. In many countries, protests and demonstrations took place that helped raise awareness to help confront and minimize the effects of the changing environment and climate change. Much of the environmental activism that took place in the last decade was youth led. One young leader, Greta Thunberg from Sweden, helped lead many protests concerning climate change. The 16 year old also inspired and encouraged other leaders and young people in general to take action all around the world. 

   As stated on Bbc.co.uk, Thunberg said at the United Nations Summit in New York, “My message is that we’ll be watching you. This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. Yet I am one of the lucky ones. People are suffering.” This powerful quote was dictated to world leaders in order to express the severiority of the situation and the urgent need for action. As climate change continues to progress, support for the environmental activism movement will only continue to increase until more serious action is taken.

   Concerning economic inequality, the environment, the rights of African Americans, women, and the LGBTQ+ community, many social rights movements started or occurred in the past decade. These social reform movements had a powerful impact on society in many ways. Though developments are still needed in the world today, the movements of the 2010s helped bring awareness and make positive changes to important issues that impact the people. 

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