A Note From The Author
Last Friday, July 12, I blogged about the use of social media for social activism, and it sparked a heated debate between a Facebook friend and myself. A comment was made that it may not be realistic for people to walk off their jobs or abandon their responsibilities to protest. For some, social media is the only outlet they have. I’m not going to point out that Civil Rights protesters did walk off their jobs and were jailed and missed work — sometimes they never came home. However we now live in a digital era. Things change.
It is that conversation and recent events that have led me to write a follow up commentary.
I am not surprised that George Zimmerman got off. I would have been [joyously] surprised if he had been found guilty. There was that one glimmer of hope that my Inner American clung to — the hope that America would live up to its promise of “liberty and justice for all.” My Better Mind, upon hearing the verdict, promptly pointed her finger and let out a huge, “I told you so.” And while my inner American cried for a dream deferred, my Better Mind held her tightly and whispered, “When racism is built into a law, it’s hard to find justice in the courts.”
It is with that knowledge, and that revelation, that I am sitting at my computer now. I notice on my news feed that there are still blacked-out profile pictures, people are still wearing hoodies. I stand by my statement: “Blacked out profiles do not change government laws. Voices do.” My question is: Now that the verdict is in and Zimmerman is free, and now that your outrage can be justified, how will you direct your actions?
Following in the steps of the late Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder has vowed not to play in Florida as long as the “Stand Your Ground” law is in effect.
No, we can’t all be Stevie Wonder. For some, social media may be the best way to get the message out. All I ask is that you post with a purpose. Genie Lauren is a woman who used Twitter to shut down Juror B37’s book deal. She tweeted her outrage, asked for supporters, tweeted not only the publisher, but also Martin’s parents. She created a campaign on change.org that reached 1,000 signatures with a simple statement:
Sharlene Martin, Manager
Drop Juror B37 from Martin Literary Management
Lauren was able to protect Trayvon’s legacy and ensure that his murder isn’t exploited by someone looking to make a couple bucks.
It’s initiatives like this that show social media’s power and effectiveness. But in order to make a stand like that, you have to stay informed and you have to do research. It takes work to cause change. It takes purpose. Therefore, yes, hashtags, posts, profile pictures and any other social media tool spread awareness. But if you are trying to cause real change, it takes more time and dedication than that.
Extra note: This commentary had already been written, when I saw perhaps the most ignorant trend sweeping social media (mostly by white teens). Apparently some people think it’s cool to post a picture of themselves on the ground, presumably as Trayvon did when he died with an Arizona Ice Tea and Skittles. It’s called Trayvoning, and it’s disgusting. Stop.