Black Lives Matter and Nigrescence Theory: When Police Violence Triggers an Encounter

William E. Cross, Helen A. Neville, Crystal L. Austin, Jessica S. Reinhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a social movement. The video recording of the death of George Floyd represented a collective Encounter that spread across the United States and the globe via various social media platforms with startling immediacy. In this manuscript, the authors apply Nigrescence theory to the BLM protests of 2020. We argue that Nigrescence theory provides a framework to understand catalysts to individual and collective activism and the progression of a social movement. In the current analysis, Immersion-Emersion is demonstrated citing the types of social and organizational changes initiated by groups, companies, and institutions. The movement is ongoing; thus, evidence of Internalization as well as Internalization-Commitment is missing. However, published objectives make clear the movement’s vision and commitments. Although it centers race, when combined with the dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic, BLM has uncovered the need for change related to social class as well as race and an immediate challenge for the BLM leadership is their ability to address this intersectional phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-326
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Black Psychology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Black Lives Matter
  • Nigrescence
  • activism
  • racial identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Applied Psychology


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