The BlackLivesMatter Movement has caught the media’s eye as it addresses racism in our criminal justice system. However, there seems to be a racial divide in support for this race-based movement, namely, black Americans tend to be supportive of the cause, and white Americans appear to be less so. Previous literature suggests that an emotional reaction to injustice, specifically moral shock, may trigger cross-racial support for race-based movements. In addition, racial attitudes can also be influential on cross-racial social movement support. This experimental analysis explores under what conditions white Americans will support a black social movement, one that does not directly affect their livelihood. Using survey data from over 300 white Americans across the country, this analysis finds that exposure to racial injustice increases a white American’s likelihood of supporting a black social movement. This study also finds that white Americans are more likely to support a black movement outside of the U.S. Furthermore, this study reveals that white Americans are less likely to perceive black people with ethnic names as victims in instances of racial injustice.


Leiby, Michele


Political Science


social movement, #BlackLivesMatter, white American, social movement support

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar



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