When was the last time you heard the name Stoneman Douglas? March for Our Lives? Where is the support of all the celebrities that performed?
You've definitely heard of the March For Our Lives movement that was sparked after the Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting which killed 17 people and injured 17 more.
This started a nationwide outcry for gun reform and aimed to stop gun violence.
Over two years have passed since this tragedy, and the spotlight has moved from gun violence to abortion, to corruption, and today, to the Black Lives Matter movement.
We have seen time and time again that many people are only interested in social justice if it serves their own interests and personal agenda.
What can we do to ensure that the issues we care about make it past the news cycle?
1. Educate Yourself Before Posting, Sharing, or Commenting
If you were scrolling on Instagram on June 2, 2020, your feed was a compilation of black squares posted to protest racism and police brutality. This was a sign of solidarity among social media users across the world.
Many, however, soon took their posts down because they realized by just posting black screens, it would not help the issue. Instead, sharing links and resources where people could look to learn about the history of racism in America, beginning with slavery.
Social Media is a ruthless place that will not hesitate to call you out if you are spreading misinformation about a topic.
On another important note, forming your own opinions and views on a topic is not possible unless you are well informed. We should all want to spread awareness and information to help others learn and understand before speaking.
2. Do Not Use an Issue to Gain Followers or Clout
A popular social media site, TikTok, is the source of many trends and "viral" information. In the past weeks, TikTok creators (people with a large following) have used their platform to advocate for Black Lives Matter.
This is amazing and definitely a good use of their platform, but after a few weeks, this issue is the last thing on their minds.
They return back to their normal lives and don't speak on the issue again. We see this happening on many other platforms, as well as on TV and radio.
3. Respect Others' Opinions and Views
America is about 328 million people, there are bound to be people that don't agree with you or your stance. Engaging in productive dialogue with those who differ from you can be very constructive and help you further understand the issue, from a different perspective.
Recently, there has been an increase in online feuds, especially on Twitter, where it is just a back and forth virtual shouting match.
These have not been constructive in the least, and lead to more tension. People who aren't able to express themselves in person should not be using social media to hide their identity.
4. Don't Just Talk About Making Change
Real change won't be made by posting black squares on your Instagram. Real change is made through the three P's: political pressure, protests, and promotion.
- Political Pressure: Contact your government officials. Writing to your Congressman or City Representative can tell them that you are passionate about Black Lives Matter and other issues. Young voices, especially, carry a lot of weight with the government. Click here to find your elected officials.
- Protests: Bring your spirit and energy to a protest happening in your area. There is no better place to meet other activists and people passionate about these issues. This is also your chance to exercise your freedom to protest and to tell the government that you aren't satisfied.
- Promotion: Your money and where you decide to spend it is a large way that you can show your allegiance. Deciding to not buy something from New Balance because they have supported the Trump re-election campaign, and instead buying from Nike, which has supported Black Lives Matter since the beginning, is one example. Click here for more information.
5. Recognize the Problem in Everyday Life
This last step is important moving forward.
Keeping up the momentum and ensuring that nothing like this happens in the future. You may or may not see racial injustice in your everyday life, but it is your responsibility to call people out, stand up for what is right, and be an advocate for yourself and everyone around you.