Monday Notes: Social Media Activism &…

Trayvon Martin was shot on February 26, 2012. Over a year later, Jamie Foxx appeared at the BET Awards in a red t-shirt with the slain teenager’s hooded face. I thought his silent statement was brilliant, so I ordered one and wore it around Jacksonville, hoping to raise awareness and concern about the case. Two weeks later, his murderer was found not guilty of any charges. I tucked my folded t-shirt away and deemed wearing it ineffectual.

Then, Mike Brown was killed by a police officer and left to rot in the street on August 9, 2014. #BlackLivesMatter was active and I’d begun using it, in addition to #MichaelBrown. But the grand jury decided not to indict the officer.

A little over a year passed and Tamir Rice was gunned down by a police officer in a Cleveland park. I created a social media posts and included #BlackLivesMatter and #TamirRice. Later, I found out that Laquan McDonald was killed by a Chicago police officer around the same time, but the video wasn’t released. More posts. More hashtags.

The murders and associated hashtags rolled out quicker than I could grieve: #SayHerName, #JusticeForSandraBland, #BaltimoreUprising, #FreddieGray, #JamarClark, #PhilandoCastile occurred faster than I could post. And I began to wonder if hashtagging was enough. I mean, unarmed black people continued to be murdered whether I tweeted my anger or not.

So, I stopped.

Last month, a video of two white Georgia men seemingly hunting down a black, male jogger surfaced three months after the incident. #AhmaudArbery became popular, and because his birthday was May 8th, supporters ran 2.23 miles and posted #IRunWithAhmaudArbery. 

Similar to when I wore my red t-shirt to raise awareness about Trayvon Martin eight years ago, I scrolled and wondered if this was enough to effect change. *Wouldn’t it be just a matter of time before another defenseless black person was killed?

But, what more could I do?

That’s when I asked my sister, Celeste Smith, co-founder of 1Hood Media and social justice activist to help me understand what would be impactful beyond posting a pithy saying and a hashtag.

Smith is an advocate of social media activism, but she agreed to provide additional ways that we can all be more active in our communities.

Vote, especially in local elections. Smith says voting is important. I mean we all saw what happened when African Americans rallied around one candidate for the 2008 and 2012 presidential election but voting for president isn’t the only office that’s imperative for our livelihood. Every aspect of American life is, in some way, shaped and governed by who represents us senatorially, congressionally, statewide, and locally. Who becomes sheriff and who is elected judge is important, especially when they are racist, anti-black, or represent racist ideals and can dictate how black citizens are policed.

Unify. Organize with likeminded individuals. Smith says, “Our greatest strength is our unity.” Organizations can be international, like Black Lives Matter, national, like the Players Coalition, or locally affiliated, such as the Color of Change in your city. Check the organization’s About page to see if it is aligned with your own core values. Organizations such as the ones listed are constantly and consistently supporting issues important for communities of black people. If this is where your interests lie, then there’s a place for you to help.

Support local activists. “You don’t have to be on the front line,” says Smith. “That ain’t everybody’s mission.” If you’re aware of an activist group in your area, then reach out to them online. Many times, their website lists ways that you can help. For example, Color of Change in my city is hosting an event to help “women returning to society from incarceration.” They are soliciting people who’d like to be a part of the host committee and all I have to do is complete a form. Perhaps, you don’t have time to devote in person. Smith says we should consider donating money or supplies or watching activists’ children. Connect with them and see what the activist needs.

While social media activism has its merits, such as garnering widespread awareness in a short amount of time, it is also important to be active in the in-between spaces. Voting, unifying, and supporting local activists are three ways to be involved before there’s an issue.

***

*I wrote this and planned to submit it to another platform a week before George Floyd was killed but held off and wrote Fire, instead. These days, I literally cannot write fast enough to inspire change.

65 thoughts on “Monday Notes: Social Media Activism &…

  1. There’s just so much left to write, to say, to do. The problem for me is that all of this hits too close to my academic work, so I’m always thinking about it anyway. I have [had] to find ways to turn away. Otherwise, I’ll be sitting on the other side of sanity.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Voting in local and state elections is so important, as you point out. I find it annoying when people who make a lot of noise on social media also mention that they don’t like either candidate so they are sitting this one out or simply never bother to watch debates, read and learn about local candidates, etc. Of course, it is their right not to vote.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ugh! My husband says, “it’s their right not to vote” all the time lol I agree, but of course I agree with the remainder of your statement. It’s one important step to being a part of the government that we’re all supposed to be a part of.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. In every way. I’m exhausted. You’re exhausted. We’re exhausted. The only things keeping me upright are self-care and a fierce commitment/hope/action to save future brown babies.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. 😮 Wow so many black people gunned down by Police ‘officers, I’d been aware of these atrocities in America but I had no idea so many died.

    Here in the UK the weapon of choices are knives and police have stop and search powers if they suspect a teenager is carrying a blade, however statistics reveal you’re more likely to be stopped if you’re Black than if you are White skinned…….. I’m just s grateful us Brits don’t carry guns!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes. A LOT. Actually, there are a lot of white people gunned down by police officers, too, but it would take a statistician to explain how the numbers are disproportionate. Anywho, knives? And so your numbers are also off with more black people being stopped? Systemic racism knows no boundaries.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for sharing!!.. just keep doing what you do best, let your fingers do the walking (typing/writing) and your heart do the talking!!.. 🙂

    “When you are truly inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project… your mind transcends its limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world! Then those dormant forces, faculties and talents inside you become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” Patanjali “

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Last week a football player for the New Orleans Saints was asked a question about the violence. As I turned my eyes to the direction of the tv, I saw the most depleted expression of exhaustion by any person I have ever seen. He looked up and said, I’m just so tired of having to explain myself, what is there to explain. It should be so easy to understand.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Right. And that’s why I haven’t had a conversation about “what’s wrong” with these murders, because if I have to explain to you why it’s not okay to basically smother someone to death, in broad daylight, on camera…then we have bigger issues than I can define.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on Monique L. Desir and commented:
    Yesterday, I tweeted a question wondering where this generation’s Fred Hamptons, John C. Raines, and William Davidon. If you don’t know who these men are, you have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to the fight for human rights, the battle against injustice, and the work that is necessary for ethnic groups around the world to continue. This is a great post on activism and how to not only inspire change, but make your vote count.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. It’s a difficult read, as was/is all posts concerning yet another tragedy. Trump should be fired/impeached. The role of white supremacists have become obsolete. Stay safe please, regarding Covid 19 too. Much regard. I won’t reblog as I’m in South Africa and the info is pertinent to America. Again, stay safe.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s difficult to love through too. DT was impeached, actually. He just wasn’t removed. Our laws here are quite ridiculous sometimes. Thank you for your concern. I’m being as safe as possible 🤎

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Thank you for emphasizing local elections. Our primary was a few weeks ago here in Oregon where it’s 100% mail-in (even postage paid) yet only 40% turnout. Because of this, our incumbent County Commissioner was beaten out by a Timber Unity sponsored candidate (https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2020/03/timber-unity-racism/), which I doubt would have happened if everyone had gotten off their arses and voted. I’ve voted in every single election since I was 18. I’m always thrilled to have a voice!!

    Ah yes and thank you for encouraging folks to go beyond hashtag activism. Real action has got to happen, along with white folks like me getting out there. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think we’ve missed the idea completely or maybe we’ve been conditioned to believe that only presidential elections matter.

      Also, what you’ve described is what worries me about the upcoming prez election and this cannot be. We absolutely cannot have DT as president again.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yep, totally. I think here in Oregon people might have not even opened the ballot that came because the presidential nominees were already figured out and there wasn’t a lot of publicity for the other races which were so important for our region of the state (how they allow primaries to all be on different days is beyond me…it literally is a situation where our votes did not count because it was really the states scheduled first who got to decide). In my husband’s home country of Australia, voting is compulsory and they treat it like a national holiday, with BBQs and the like. I think that’s why I have a problem with any celebrity who tries to take the role of an advocate for the underserved yet doesn’t actually vote themselves, you know?

        With the upcoming election, since not enough states passed the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, we’re once again reliant on ‘swing states’ to do the right thing. In Oregon, writing to our Senators isn’t that effective as they both are Dems who hate DT as to the majority of our Reps (a good problem to have) and we passed the NPV a while back. So I suppose now it’s the activism to ensure people get out and vote in those states, hope their leadership tackles voter suppression, and cross our fingers that we don’t have a repeat of 2016. Biden will get the popular vote, I’m sure of that, but the electoral college? Ugh.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Excellent post and informative. And I hope and pray that more can be done in this country to make it better for us all, and that we don’t take our foot off the gas pedal.
    Since last year, I had started signing petitions and joining causes, and would like to do more. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. great post as always, Kathy — cynic that I am, I still have to recognize that things have changed radically since I was a chiid — the world evolves quicker & quicker. yes, there’s still evil in the world… but I try to keep in mind that it’s not enough to ‘win’ — freedom & justice require continual work to maintain our gains as we also work to go forward

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Great minds think alike Kathy. I’m crafting a post on my blog naturallyla.blog about the multiple ways the people can protest the injustices of black people. As Celeste says in your posts being on the front line isn’t for everyone, but everyone can do something.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Right. I think years of social conditioning, through media (all these civil rights movies), etc, have us thinking of we’re not marching up a hill, then we aren’t doing anything, and you know, that’s just not true.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. I too have felt that posts and hashtags are ineffective in changing anything. Thanks for the practical suggestions. I already vote, and will check into local orgs that support the cause. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  13. It just horrifies me to read all of this. I feel ashamed of our country. I am proud of the protests and hopeful change is coming! Thank you for your informative post, Katherin.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I’m trying and thanks for your acknowledgement – I cannot even imagine what it must be like to deal with systemic racism since I’m white. I am having a heated exchange with a friend who seems to think that protestors who were assaulted “deserved it” for violating curfew. (Trust me, I had a lot of arguments for her) Ugh – she’s a good friend and this just brought up such emotion and frustration for me.

        Liked by 2 people

  14. Excellent post! As far as the voting, I think that the African American community votes democrat during each election cycle and has since at least 1964. Aside from a social equality epiphany that must arise in this country, so too must a party (who has not delivered on its promises) be held accountable by its electorate for its pandering and empty promises. We need state and local leaders, who understand their local issues, to be the first line in fundamental change in race/bias/ issues that still exist.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Yep! I agree totally! Black folks are going to have to hold Democrat’s feet to the fire. We’ve been loyal to a fault. But, on the federal level, getting Trump out in November is a no brainer for us.

      Liked by 2 people

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