Colin Wayne Leach headshot

On April 24, 2024, Colin Wayne Leach, professor of psychology and Africana studies, published a new article, alongside colleagues Barnard postdoctoral scholar Dr. Shaunette T. Ferguson and Cátia P. Teixeira, in The Psychologist, titled “The legitimacy of protest.”

Leach and his colleagues explain that this millennium has seen a dramatic rise in the frequency and diversity of protests and unprecedented political polarization, distrust, incivility, and violence. Their paper questions whether there is any clear link between these two social phenomena. Using the Black Lives Matter movement as a case study, Leach and his colleagues overview the cause’s magnitude, impact, and opposition. They point out that a significant portion of people who do not support BLM oppose the group because they think its tactics are confrontational, destructive, and violent — a perception largely influenced by the cause’s misrepresentation in the media. In light of this, Leach and his colleagues emphasize the importance of informed discussion of protest — based on verifiable facts rather than hearsay or partisan spin — and they assert that psychologists have an important role to play in ensuring these ideals are upheld.