I’m not too sure how I feel about my opinions just yet, and this post reflects my jumbled brain. I am genuinely looking for responses, and dialogue, if possible!
I can barely (and I’m sure I’m not the only one) go on Facebook without seeing a post about Baltimore, and Freddie Gray. We’ve seen this before; Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner were all internet phenomenon immediately following their deaths. And rightfully so; I am not attempting to suggest that there is anything incorrect about posting to social media about current issues, I certainly do so myself. I see so many Facebook posts, and try to read all of them or the articles attached, and am definitely better informed about both my friends’ opinions and various media outlets’ take on the events. I think that posting on Facebook about politics is generally good, as it can influence important conversation and debate and may leave everyone more informed. But, something about posting on Facebook about social issues or political topics also seems frustrating. There are friends who post really meaningful dialogue, but I can’t help but think that a lot of the posts come in the form of “slacktivism”–people posting to seem relevant and caught up on issues.
In reading The New Jim Crow, I began to understand for the first time just how embedded racism is into the structure of society, and how detrimental police brutality and mass incarceration are. Our nation is absolutely perpetuating standards of protection that are different for whites and non-whites. The killing of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Freddie Gray are all examples of the racial castes that Alexander describes. So when I see friends posting about their opinions on police brutality and racism, I really appreciate their awareness and cognizance of social issues; I am certainly not trying to say that I am more aware than anyone else. It just seems a little, well, lazy. And it bothers me that many friends who are posting are white, and well-off, and maybe (probably?) not engaging in this conversation or activism outside of Facebook. I think that posting at all is better than not posting, but how is posting an article from an opinion piece of a blogger discontinuing the racial caste system? How is sharing Facebook posts really, actually, dismantling racialism? Am I wrong? Is posting on Facebook actually active?
The killing of young black men is heartbreaking, and I think that sharing opinions on how wrongful their deaths are is necessary; so, I’m not entirely sure why people voicing their opinion seems frustrating. I am trying to get a grip on how useful social media activism really is. What would Michelle Alexander say of social media activism? Are we working toward changing societal structure with our Facebook pages? If social media activism is helpful, and “trending” topics reflect actual change, why are we still killing black men?
I think that posting is better than not posting; being engaged in conversation is certainly better than ignoring current events. I just don’t think that posting is actually doing very much. Ought I just be okay with reading Facebook posts from (mostly white, mostly entitled) Facebook friends, since at least they’re posting something?