COVID-19 is not the only major, historic event happening right now. In response to the killings of George Floyd and other unarmed Black people by the police, people around the world have joined the Black Lives Matter movement, whether by attending protests, donating to Black-led initiatives, or educating themselves and those around them.
No world event happens in a vacuum. There are many ways in which our experiences of COVID-19 are linked to the ongoing movement demanding that Black lives be valued. So please do not feel that, when documenting life during the pandemic, you must document only pandemic-related changes. It is all connected, and the Black Lives Matter movement is a vitally important part of life right now.
Hopefully we’ll look back on the year 2020 as a year of positive change. And when we do, we’ll be looking to understand the whole experience, not just the pandemic on its own, or this particular civil rights movement on its own.
If you are interested in capturing your interviewees’ reflections on the Black Lives Matter movement, alongside their experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, see below for some additional questions to consider asking.
None of these questions are intended to be judgmental. Rather, they are simply capturing your interviewee’s perspective.
This is a sensitive and potentially traumatic subject. If you are not Black, and your interviewee is Black, you must ask them well before the interview if they are comfortable answering questions about this subject. Allow your interviewee to take the lead in terms of what issues to discuss, and when to have the interview.
See the final link, below, for more information about the sensitivity required when documenting this subject.
Interview questions about the Black Lives Matter movement:
How do you feel about the current Black Lives Matter movement?
Have you spent much time learning about the Black Lives Matter movement recently?
Have you changed your mind about anything because of what you’ve learned? If so, what?
Have you participated in a similar movement before?
Are you participating in this movement now? If so, how?
If you don’t feel comfortable participating in this movement, why is that?
Do you feel that this current movement is different from those of the past? If so, how? If not, why not?
If you are not in the United States, have you seen much discussion about racism in your own country?
Do you think this particular protest movement is connected to the pandemic in any way? If so, how?
What do you think will be the outcome of this movement?
Are there any other reflections you want to share about the current Black Lives Matter movement?
Articles about the racial disparities in the impact of COVID-19 (United States-specific):
The COVID-19 Black Emergency Support Fund (Greater Toronto Area-specific):
COVID-19-related resources from Black Lives Matter (United States-specific):
To learn more about your nearest Black Lives Matter chapter (Canada and United States):
For a deeper dive into the need for caution and sensitivity around documenting this movement, consider reading “No one owes their trauma to archivists,” by Eira Tansey.