How Social Media has Modernized the Movement
By: Mary Davis, Contributing Reporter
If you were to log into your Facebook or Twitter account right now chances are somewhere along your newsfeed you will run across a post about social inequalities, injustices or racism. During the last ten years racial tension has noticeably increased in
this country. The conversation regarding race relations has also increased.
I’m not sure if that’s because within the last ten years we’ve elected our first African American President or if it’s due to increased access to technology which give people an outlet to express themselves. Whatever the reason is, we can’t ignore the fact that social media plays an important role in the modern day fight for civil liberties.
About a month after Trayvon Martin was murdered in Florida I ran across his story while on Facebook. After reading about the events that led up to his death and the aftermath, I created a post about it. At the time, none of my friends were discussing his murder. As a matter of fact, it was through my post that many of them learned about what had taken place. We all joined the thousands of others in protest against the injustice that had occurred by simply creating statuses on Facebook.
Can we say cyber Million Man March?
Speaking of Million Man March, during the Civil Rights Era if something important related to the movement were to happen in Mississippi the only way residents in Louisiana would know instantly is via telephone. There was also newspaper publications that printed half-truths but they were rarely any benefit to us. Still, news was likely to be contained to a small geographic region unless picked up by a radio broadcaster or included key civil right players such as Brother Malcolm X. However, today social media allows news to be shared globally. Social media has become bigger than CNN.
Yes, I said it and in my opinion most people who discuss these topics on social media are made up of a lot more substance than most of those anchors at CNN.
Maybe, but that’s how one feels when they’ve come from a lineage of people who have been excluded from the media for all the right things but highlighted for all the wrong things driving the negative perceptions that prevails today.
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have birthed a new way for people to share stories. It only takes a click of a button for a story to go live. Other people read it and if they’re moved to, they share your post. This is exactly what happened when Trayvon Martin was murdered. At the time, no major news stations were covering the story but with sites like Facebook and Twitter the world was still able to learn about the tragedy. The coverage the story received on social media forced major stations like MSNBC and CNN to pick it up.
HA! Talk about breaking records.
Social media allows us to discuss our problems our way. Granted, just like with any media, what trends depends on what people gravitate toward but social media gives everyone a voice on any topic, not only a highly trained and salaried broadcaster. Family members, friends, and community members work to get that person’s story out so that the world can see what is happening.
The founders of the #blacklivesmatter movement took using social media for a good social cause a step further when they created a hashtag that was representative of how many Blacks in America were feeling. We won’t turn this into a post about the #blacklivesmatter movement but we can’t deny the impact the hashtag has made. You have people of all shades and nationalities joining the fight. The founders created a way for all of us who were feeling that #blacklivesmatter to communicate without requiring us to meet in the same location. Black Lives Matter is also a way for us to continue the fight without separating each individual case like the justice for hashtags.
It’s a movement.
Take into account what happened to Michael Brown. Although there was a justice for Mike Brown hashtag, using the Black Lives Matter hashtag connected the fight of his family and community with the fight of many other families and communities. Sort of like an up-to-date NACAP.
Just like anything else great, the movement has had its share of controversy. Even the many who spoke against the hashtag have become a part of the movement. Maybe not the way one would hope but at least they’re talking about it. An article published by the Huff Post according to Pew Research Center polls collected last year 59% of Americans now believe changes are needed to give African-Americans equal rights.
That’s a 13% increase from the year prior.
Social media has helped modernized the fight for social reform. It continues to serve as a platform for people to share their story with millions of people. It also allows for opinionated individuals, like myself, to post how we feel and have others read and respond to it. Social media’s impact on the fight for social change isn’t limited to a hand full of likes and a few people talking. People in Nigeria can shed light on what’s really happening there, without American media distorting it and vice versa. So here’s to social media and the birth of many great social activist *Insert Black Power Fist here
(Featured photos courtesy of occupy.com, blacklivesmatter.com, advocate.com)