ABOUT THE PROJECT
George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020 sparked historic protests across the United States and abroad. In a whirlwind of national media coverage, trending hashtags, and mass demonstrations, many of us were overwhelmed by the barrage of information ― and many of us wanted to know how we could help.
Our team tracked the public’s online footprint regarding the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the month following George Floyd’s death to better understand how this period of impassioned activism and public discourse has affected public sentiments around the BLM movement. We used an interdisciplinary approach, combining Natural Language Processing and data visualization with academic and historical literary research, and collected insights on the life-cycle and geographic range of the response to the mass protests (on Twitter and Google), as well as the resulting sentiments surrounding BLM and related topics.
Our project stands with efforts that promote long-term, intersectional, and systemic change to the existing racist institutions in our society. Our platform functions both as a space to showcase research and data around this social issue, as well as a resource hub to support activist efforts working to address racial inequality in the United States.
We sincerely hope our research and reflection on how George Floyd’s death has impacted Black Lives Matter can provide exploratory insights into the momentum of June 2020.
Our project was presented at
in August 2020.
Black Lives Matter, Always intends to produce data-driven research with consideration to current discussions around racial injustice, online activism, and intersectional action ― with an overarching goal to support and promote ongoing, social justice activism in the United States.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. What question about the world is your project trying to address or answer?
Considering the anti-racist demonstrations of June 2020 following George Floyd’s murder, our team was interested in how this period does or does not reflect a change in the Black Lives Matter movement. More broadly, we wanted to see what was the longevity and momentum of the demonstrations.
2. How will this question and answer contribute to discourse in this space?
This project is current, and addresses a highly visible and influential moment in US history. Scholars have been doing this type of research around Black lives for decades, and we hope to contribute to that discussion through our data-driven work and sentiment analysis (public opinion polarity). Our research provides a call-to-actions and suggestions for how to tackle systemic racism (and promote anti-racism) long-term.
3. Why work with data?
We believe data is a powerful tool that provides quantitative evidence to support social activism and change. The BLM, Always Team is committed to incorporating data analysis tools into our social impact work. We advocate for accessible data analyses for non-data scientists, as well as collaborative, interdisciplinary data analysis methodologies.
4. What are the limitations to this project?
This is a recently conceived, ongoing student project. Our research and analysis is NOT generalizable, and it has not undergone the rigorous testing, checking, and/or validation expected of scholarly research.
Our work reflects our team’s years of collective experience working with qualitative and quantitative data, but please be cautious about generalizing our data and sentiment analysis past what is displayed on this website.
5. How accurate is the sentiment analysis?
Our sentiment analyzer is not 100% accurate. However, the sentiment analyzer utilized for this project achieved 70% on its test set which is acceptable for our purposes. However, knowing this limitation, we should not rely solely or too heavily on sentiment analysis. Sentiment analysis can only give a sense of how people are reacting.
Also note that “sentiments” refer not to attitudes towards a specific topic, but refers to how the topic is being discussed (either positively (with optimism, peacefully), neutrally, or negatively (with pessimism, aggression)).
6. Why work with Twitter data?
Social movements have used technology and media to disseminate, escalate, and enlarge the scope of their causes. And in the age of widely accessible and highly sophisticated social media, the range and impact of technology to impact social movements has also increased. In a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans felt social media platforms were important for activism (69%), and a similar number felt these platforms created sustained movements for social change (67%).
Our team recognizes that hashtags can only offer a limited, partial, and filtered view of society, but we believe studying this specific population of everyday people still holds value in understanding modern, online activism.
7. Are you affiliated with Black Lives Matter?
No. This project was created as part of TechSoup and ParsonsTKO’s Summer 2020 Data Strategy Mentorship Program. While we strive to promote the anti-racist work that is being done as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, we do not represent nor are represented by the Black Lives Matter Global Foundation.
8. Where can I learn more about Black Lives Matter, racial justice, anti-racism, etc.?
Our team is constantly learning about what we can do as people to help alleviate injustice in the world, and we encourage everyone viewing our site to do the same ― and continue listening and learning.
BLM Always is one project of many that seek to address the racial injustice seen in our society.
9. What’s next for BLM Always?
This is an ongoing project, led and organized by Chelsie Lui, Mikayla O’Reggio, and Jin Pu. As our team continues to explore, research, and document developments to the Black Lives Matter movement, the BLM Always website will be updated.
Our team is passionate about the intersection between social impact, technology, and data ― if you or your organization is interested in learning more about our team or our methodology for this project, contact us.