Since the murder of George Floyd, a Black Minneapolis man who was killed by police in May 2020, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement has gained the national attention of many social media users.
However, some calls for justice have become performative, and therefore fail to accomplish anything substantial.
Some people think they are changing the world with a tap on their cell phones.
But while sharing information pertaining to what is happening in the world and raising awareness is an important element of working toward justice, sometimes, it isn’t enough.
Over the past week, social media platforms have been the place for another moment of “Iash activism,” as users’ interest fixates on instances of police brutality.
Sharing an image on Instagram with #BlackLivesMatter is a first step toward solving racial inequality issues.
But it is only a matter of time before society’s interest wanes.
If members of our community became more engaged with why these things are happening, they would discover systemic racism is the true cause of all this animosity.
Police brutality does not come and go with these moments of Iash activism. The fear people of color have is consistent and constant. To say otherwise would belittle the severity of their experiences.
At a traffic stop in Windsor, Virginia, on Dec. 5, 2020, 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario feared for his life.
“I’m honestly afraid to get out of the car,” he said, according to The New York Times.
“Yeah. You should be,” replied Officer Joe Gutierrez, who held Nazario at gunpoint and proceeded to pepper spray the uniformed lieutenant.
This dialogue was obtained from Gutierrez’s body camera footage from the incident, which was recently released and began to circulate widely across all social media platforms this month.
Seeing footage of this happening has reminded the world that the fight for justice is not over. And it will never be over if fighting for justice is treated like a trend.
How long will people continue to share this video? A week? Perhaps a month?
Posting about inequality puts our country on the right track to solve problems. However, conversations about injustice do not last long enough to enact change.
We as responsible citizens need to keep discussing stories of people of color facing police brutality. Nobody can ignore this issue when stories like Nazario’s are constantly present.
Nobody will forget these issues if they are always reminded of them.
The importance of human lives and groups of people is not a trend. Their importance should not wax and wane with the interests of society.
Since the trial of Officer Derek Chauvin – the man who murdered Floyd – began on March 29, 2021, tensions in Minneapolis have risen.
Those tensions reached their breaking point when Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Minneapolis Black man, was murdered during a traffic stop by Kimberly Potter, a white female police officer, who shot her gun “accidentally,” believing it was her taser, according to the Times.
However, mistaking a firearm for a taser is not a common occurrence because tasers are brightly colored, weigh less than a firearm, and the two weapons are located on opposite sides of an officer’s belt.
In solidarity, people across the internet have shared images of Wright.
Sharing images is a first step toward creating an anti-racist society. But what will happen when people stop talking about Daunte Wright?
When Instagram or Snapchat stories vanish in 24 hours, it is important to still be invested in the cause.
Social media users need to embrace the social part of social media: a place to connect with people who are motivated by the same cause.
If we want to solve these problems, here’s what we should be doing: having meaningful conversations to educate ourselves and others.
People who believe sharing photos alone is going to end police brutality are merely dusting off their “ally” titles.
Allyship is not a shiny badge to flaunt when it’s popular to do so.
Allyship is not speaking for marginalized communities, but using your privilege to amplify their voices, donating to important causes, and educating yourself and those around you.
Allyship is about consistent action.
Allyship should not just be a passive and Ieeting label – it should be a lifestyle.
Social media trends come and go, but we can’t forget about the people they involve.
We can’t forget that police brutality – and systemic racism – are ongoing experiences that people of color face and will face until attention is given to these issues for long enough to bring about a serious change in society.
Allyship is something we can’t forget.