This year the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement became a key focus on social media after the murder of George Floyd on the 25th May, by police officer, Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, America.
In solidarity of the BLM movement, millions of Instagram users posted a black square on their feed to symbolise a virtual moment of silence on the 2nd June. According to CNBC, more than 14.6 million people used the hashtag #blackouttuesday by 11.45 am ET on Instagram.
The gesture proved that people working together will always be more powerful than the people in power.
*Individuals taking part in the movement used social media to circulate images of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Stephon Clark and Elijah McClain and draw attention towards police brutality.
Although by autumn, the movement passed its peak and social media feeds returned to the algorithm that hooked the masses in the first place, funny cat videos and thirst traps.
So in short, this year people changed their profile pictures to a black circle on Instagram in light of the BLM movement. Only to then change it to a photo of them with their dog, in light of wanting to impress their new Hinge match about a month later.
But in all fairness, when the issue drops off Twitter’s radar, does it have a chance of staying on ours?
In June, Aima 18, played a big part in organising a protest in Central London that attracted thousands of supporters and has been marching every week since. In a conversation with Radio 1 Newsbeat Aima said:
“Despite the fact, there’s not a lot of media attention – that there’s not as many people as there was in the beginning – the amount of people that come out are still able to make a change and have their voices heard.”
*To learn more about Police brutality here is the link to an interactive presentation by Alia Chughtai entitled: “Know their names: Black people killed by the Police In the US.”
Do you Want Performative Activism with your Latte?
For centuries, writers like Phillis Wheatley, Alice Walker and Tony Morrison have written about the impact of systematic racism. But by May 2020, the whole world seemed to be finally listening.
Although amid genuine voices coming forward, some people saw the movement as the latest trend of the season to capitalise.
For example, did anyone else receive an iMessage from someone subtly asking you to share racist trauma because they are working on “this lovely project against hate crime.”
The message could have been a copy and paste job to every POC in the phone book because the text continued: “we’ve never even spoken about this, but perhaps you’ve got any stories you think could help in the fight?”
Needless to say, the message got aired, but a valid question in response could have been: help in the fight against who, you?
Season one of lockdown created hoarders, genuine fear towards COVID-19, and honest attempts of people trying to unlearn racist tropes to do better.
So, did anyone else receive a random message from a girl you went to secondary school with because she felt the need to apologise for the racism you endured at school without taking any responsibility?
Although the apology message must have taken balls, the sentiment may not have been made with the recipient’s feelings in mind. The message indicated a shift from Police brutality and systematic oppression to prioritise white guilt like its the Eurocentric beauty standards for racism.
You can donate to the BLM movement here: https://blacklivesmatter.uk/
Feature image shows signs and images of George Floyd from a BLM protest. Photo via WeHeartIt.