Social Movements and Mutual Recognition

One of the most obvious examples of Benjamin’s theory in action is social movements, particularly Black Lives Matter. After learning about her theory, I find this movement to be a near-perfect example of attempting to achieve mutual recognition. The Black Lives Matter movement is a counter to the systemic inequalities that have given way to white dominance and severe discrimination against black and brown people. The movement (as it says) is dedicated to achieving a universal recognition of Black lives and their importance, in the same way, that white lives have long been recognized as important and worthy of recognition and protection. Now knowing about Benjamin’s theory, I find it to be the core principle of most social movements that fight to achieve rights and acknowledgment of different groups of people. Movements are centered around organization, they’re people gathering in the streets to protest, boycotting institutions, and doing what they can to draw attention to themselves, to be recognized the same as those in power. Because the dominant majority (white men) has long been recognized, the power of achieving mutual recognition lies in the movements of those who have yet to be fully recognized in their worth, their rights, and their power. Social movements that attempt to achieve equal rights and equity are key to advancing democracies and building a better society. Now that I understand Benjamin’s theory on mutual recognition, I truly believe that it is the key to social movements and thus a better world. I think that perceiving these movements as attempting to achieve mutual recognition, highlights their importance in a broader sense of the world. Many people turn away from movements because of their political associations (for example Black Lives Matter is widely recognized as a democrat movement). Further, I believe that by explaining to others that the core principle of social movements is simply mutual recognition, we can give everyone a reason to see their importance, ultimately making them moral causes rather than political ones. 

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