Redefining social activism during the revival of Black Lives Matter

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Several thousand demonstrators take part in an anti-racism demonstration, against police violence and in memory of George Floyd, during a Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest, in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Floyd, a black man, died after he was restrained by Minneapolis police on May 25, igniting protests in the U.S., and globally.  Photo by Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP

Several thousand demonstrators take part in an anti-racism demonstration, against police violence and in memory of George Floyd, during a Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest, in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Floyd, a black man, died after he was restrained by Minneapolis police on May 25, igniting protests in the U.S., and globally. Photo by Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP

The deaths of innocent Black Americans, including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, have sparked a new wave of public interest; one filled with anger, outrage and fear for the world we live in. Dissemination of these events has brought the spotlight on prolonged issues such as racism and police brutality, causing many to feel responsible for promoting social change.

Social media is perhaps the most easily accessible tool when it comes to activism. Instagram stories and bio links have become flooded with resources and tools to help educate others on how to handle these issues appropriately, along with petitions to sign and opportunities for donations — both having been outlined as tangible efforts of advocacy.

If you would like to donate, check out these funds:

Black Lives Matter

Black Visions Collective

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

The Bail Project

George Floyd Memorial Fund

People have begun promoting the support of black business owners, whose businesses you can find here, as well as black creators, whose books, music and art are now being accessed by those seeking understanding and appreciation. Some YouTube channels have also uploaded videos showcasing songs and artwork produced by black creators, donating all advertisement revenue to various Black Lives Matter causes. These videos have proven to be an effective method for those who have no means of donating to be able to contribute.

Check out one of the videos below:

Note: At the time of publishing, two of the videos originally listed by the author have been removed by Youtube.

Along with the general public, companies have released statements regarding their views on the matter. Ben & Jerry’s recently issued their message in a short summary asking for better leadership, legislation and reinforcement of black rights. Their words were particularly resonating and soon became a trending topic on Twitter:

“What happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis is the fruit borne of toxic seeds planted on the shores of our country in Jamestown in 1619, when the first enslaved men and women arrived on this continent. Floyd is the latest in a long list of names that stretches back to that time and that shore. Some of those names we know — Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Emmett Till, Martin Luther King, Jr. — most we don’t.”

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Some of those names we know — Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Emmett Till, Martin Luther King, Jr. — most we don’t.”
— Ben & Jerry’s

Even Nickelodeon, a network known for pertaining toward their child demographic, released their memorable statement on screen. Their message, titled “Declaration of Kids’ Rights,” aired for eight minutes and 40 seven seconds, expressing consoling words of wisdom intended for young audiences:

“You have the right to be treated with equality, regardless of the color of your skin. You have the right to be protected from harm, injustice, and hatred.”

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“You have the right to be treated with equality, regardless of the color of your skin. You have the right to be protected from harm, injustice, and hatred.”
— Nickelodeon

The effects of social activism through social media have been generally positive by spreading the awareness of black oppression. Unfortunately, similar to most aspects of social media, there are negative features as well. The question of “true activism” has been apparent since the birth of these platforms and continues to be an ubiquitous debate.

Those who don’t post about the issues at hand are considered bystanders while those who do post are accused of performative activism. The technological climate of today’s society requires most of us to carry an online persona. Some tend to be a more accurate representation of ourselves than others. Either way, there are no means of knowing the intentions of a post nor the intentions of a non-existent one.

The way you perform activism is your own decision. The ultimate goal of Black Lives Matter is not to reprimand the absence of tangible advocacy on a profile, but to instill the idea that racism is a violation of human rights.

So, whether you donate in silence or create an entire thread dedicated to promoting the cause, make sure to do it with the genuine intentions of validating black lives.

For more ways to educate yourself, view these resources:

https://blacklivesmatter.com/resources/

  • Includes download links for toolkits

https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

  • Provides map of global protests, petitions, official contact info and donations

https://ct-blm.carrd.co/

  • Connecticut info, including upcoming protests, CT bail fund and list of black-owned restaurants

https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/18y0_2wm85L113fVWYdgljq9uuIlmlbl3

  • A collection of written works by black authors


Esther Ju is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. They can be reached via email at esther.ju@uconn.edu.

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