Through the lens of the justice for Gorge Floyd protests, my dissertation offers a critique, consultation, creation, and contribution to the visual imagery emerging from the digital activism of social movements. Built upon a foundation of counterpublics, critical race counterstory, counternarratives, the Black public sphere, rhetorical-cultural narrative, rhetorical-cultural memory, visual social semiotics, hashtag activism, and media framing and schemas, I engage in a rhetorical-semiotic-technocultural analysis of the justice for George Floyd protests, as a social movement. I position myself as a visual specialist artist, activist, academic, and advisor for social movements engaged in social justice and social change. I argue that culture, as moderator, traversed the rhetorical-semiotic-technocultural messaging of the visual imagery emerging from the digital imagery of the justice for George Floyd social movement which motivated global citizens to take to the streets to demand social justice and social change. Drawing upon the justice for George Floyd movement, I offer artists, activists, and academics ten activist strategic propositions for the preservation of the cultural narrative, memory, and history of social movements which may utilize visuality to withstand social movement backlash.
This social justice and social change interactivity presentation is an interactive audiovisual rhetorical argument for #BlackLivesMatter that employs digital media elements of both generative and participatory culture art. If only we could walk a single day in another person’s shoes… We are all the sum of each of our own unique experiences and reality is a perception based upon one’s vantage point within one’s immediate cultural narratives and awareness of the context. Just because you may not have personally killed anyone, does not mean killers do not exist. By the same token, stereotypes, hegemonic marginalizing tropes, systemic racism, and systemic injustice exist, whether or not you are an active participant, unwilling beneficiary, or injustice-denier. Systemic racism and injustice are pervasive and permeate throughout society. This social justice and social change interactive experience is designed as an educational learning tool and a visual rhetorical argument for the #BlackLivesMatter social movement.
Christopher Odom has long been drawn to the significance of visual stories. Their power to influence people and enact social change through digital mediums captivated him and led him to pursue a PhD in Texts and Technology here at UCF. He believes that digital stories may hold the key to making a difference in our society and raising awareness about issues that might otherwise be ignored. “What someone feels through the power of imagery and story might inspire them, over time, to change the world,” he says.