The death of George Floyd in police custody came seven years after the Black Lives Matter movement was founded. His death has not only sparked a wave of protests across the United States — but a groundswell of public support and outrage.
According to the New York Times, since the protests began, support for Black Lives Matter increased by nearly as much as it had over the previous two years.
And as Americans wake up to and reckon with the systemic racism rooted in the country’s history, many have turned to action and activism. The mobilization to support the movement has taken many forms, including listening, educating, protesting, and donating, to name a few.
Using Feedback Loop's rapid consumer feedback platform, we surveyed 485 adults in the United States to see how their support of the Black Lives Matter movement and attitudes toward racial justice varied based on age or political affiliation.
Support for the racial justice movement is growing across generations, with over half of participants stating that they support Black Lives Matter.
While 64% of people are discussing racial justice with their friends and family, people are far less likely to feel comfortable discussing racial justice at work, with only 27% of people reporting they feel comfortable discussing these issues with colleagues.
As consumers start to hold companies to a higher standard and corporate social responsibility becomes more important, companies embarking on diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives must be aware of this.
The perception of civil unrest and racial tension is having an effect on the mental well-being of many, during a time when some are still feeling the impacts of COVID-19 on physical, mental, and social well-being. 44% of participants indicate their mental well-being has been impacted. A majority of individuals aged 18-24 (54%) and 35-44 (55%) said they were mentally impacted by current racial tensions, compared to only 34% of those aged 65+. Perhaps not surprisingly, those who support the Black Lives Matter movement or follow the movement closely are more likely to indicate being mentally impacted.
When participants were asked whether they agree or disagree with the statement, “I support the Black Lives Matter movement,” a majority (55%) said they either strongly agree or agree. Younger individuals aged 18-24 (59%) and Democrats (78%) most frequently indicated that they support the movement, compared to only 38% of Republicans and 46% of Independents.
A majority of participants are choosing to support the movement by discussing it with friends and family (64%), while a smaller percentage are educating themselves on topics such as racism, oppression, and privilege (49%), or posting to social media (33%).
Despite the movement’s calls for diversity and inclusion in the workplace, many participants feel less comfortable discussing the Black Lives Matter movement with their colleagues. While 46% said they are “very comfortable” discussing it with family, and 43% with friends, only 27% of participants indicated that they are “very comfortable” discussing the topic with colleagues. Beyond gestures of goodwill, companies should consider how they can support Black employees and customers, and create workplaces that prioritize equity and open the lines of communication on tough topics.
Among those posting their support to social media, a majority use Facebook (74%) to get their message across, followed by Twitter (54%) and Instagram (49%).
Beyond educating themselves, their friends, and their family members, how individuals choose to take action in their activism varies by generation. Younger individuals are more likely than other age groups to sign petitions (63%), post on social media (59%), and purchase from Black-owned businesses (38%). Those aged 35-44 are more likely to donate to organizations (30%), while those aged 25-34 are more likely to attend protests (20%). In general, participants 54 and younger are more likely to attend a protest, purchase from a Black-owned business, or call their representatives compared to individuals aged 55+.
Where do participants feel their efforts will be most impactful? 33% think the most effective way to support Black Lives Matter will be educating others on racism, oppression, and privilege, followed closely by purchasing from Black-owned businesses (23%), and signing petitions (22%). Republicans were more likely to find protesting, posting on social media, and signing petitions to be ineffective. Interestingly, posting to social media is a more common support tactic (33%) than purchasing from Black-owned businesses (24%), though only 16% think posting to social media will be effective, compared to 23% who think purchasing from Black-owned businesses will be effective.