Read the Room, Becky
Updated: Dec 3, 2020
About two weeks ago, innocent 46-year-old George Floyd died a brutal death at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin.
After inflicting serious pain on George Floyd within the confines of his police vehicle, Chauvin proceeded to fatally kneel on his neck.
George Floyd repeatedly called out that he could not breathe. This did not stop Chauvin’s fervent motivation. 8 minutes and 46 seconds. 8 minutes and 46 seconds of unbearable pain. This pain was felt by millions of African Americans across the country.
Within days of George Floyd’s death, the nation erupted into chaos. Businesses were broken into. Cars were set on fire. Windows were shattered by rocks. Despite the fact that America was quite literally burning down, insensitive creators, influencers, and celebrities completely ignored the situation and used apps like Instagram and Twitter to flood the Internet with vacation pictures and tone-deaf feeds.
Many felt like it was a better time than any to publicize their new merchandise and products. Social media is a powerful tool that has been used to call attention to the many injustices that African Americans face in this country.
From direct access to the video of George Floyd's death to petitions demanding police reform, social media is a network that has provided real insight into the plight of black people.
This article is for you, Becky. Read the room. Over the past several months, apps like TikTok and Instagram have seen a resurgence of new influencers that have fallen victim to race-related scandals. If these influencers are not completely ignoring the current state of our country, then they are weaponizing the pain of millions of African Americans for their own benefit.
Apparently, adding "ACAB" and "#BlackLivesMatter" in your Twitter bio exempts public figures from advocating for basic human rights. The response of influencers to this national crisis has the potential to either mobilize a significant amount of support for the Black Lives Matter movement or prevent the Black Lives Matter movement from achieving their goals.
With hundreds of millions of users, TikTok and Instagram circulate large amounts of information. Voices of people of color (POC) are being drowned by the Beckys of social media who are misusing their platforms and creative spaces.
However, you do not have to have hundreds of millions of followers to hinder the efforts of the Black Lives Matter movement. Measly posts of vacation photos from you or your friends can blur out images of Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations.
The death of George Floyd caused members of the black community to come to terms with a very chilling fact: we don't have privilege and we are not safe. This fact of life has remained true since the dawn of slavery. What the black community needs right now is the domination of social media outlets to spread awareness about police brutality and other systemic aspects of institutionalized racism.
Doing your part and having these important conversations instead of remaining oblivious to the ways in which black people are treated in this country is paramount for the revival of the Black Lives Matter movement.
As we take time to heal from the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless other victims of police brutality, it is vital that we do not speak over POC voices and allow them the space on social media to bring about change.