A Multimodal Discourse Analysis of Selected Social Media Posts on the #BlackLivesMatter Protest
The Black Lives Matter movement is a social movement focused on social justice for Blacks, undocumented immigrants, people with disabilities, and it seeks to change laws and policies in the criminal justice system and other areas that set these categories of people at a disadvantage. This paper investigated the multiple modes of communication such as text, colour and images manifested in the social media posts on the #BlackLivesMatter protest; which resulted from the murder of an African American, George Floyds, by American police officers on the 25th of May 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the protest which started on the 26th of May 2020, in the same city in the US. The study utilized a qualitative research design and sampled six posts made by participants in the protest. The posts were purposively sampled from online sources and were analysed with Kress and van Leeuwen’s strand of the theory of multimodal discourse analysis. The research goal was to explore the socio-semiotic meaning exposed in participants’ posts on the #BlackLivesMatter protest through social media #hashtag (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and online articles), using Kress and van Leeuwen’s theory of Visual Grammar to unravel visual-verbal synchrony in selected posts used in the Black Lives Matter protest. The study identified evidence of multimodality, such as verbal-visual synchrony expressed through text, font, images, colours, and framing and found, among others, that these features of the posts enhanced the overall theme of the #BlackLivesMatter protest. Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that the eight themes – black identity, racism, oppression, brutality, social justice, global activism, the resilient spirit, and the pursuit of liberation that emerged from the analysis were systematically projected in the posts with the aid of multimodality.