Driving to your job (#SandraBland). Sleeping in your home (#AiyanaJones). Playing on the playground (#TamirRice). Asking for help in an emergency (#JonathanFerrell). The spotlight on police brutality, excessive force and systemic racism has also kept a light shining on how injustice affects everyday life. Of all the privilege* brought to light in these conversations, being alive to see things for what they are and what they’re really not may be the ultimate.
While facts and figures are hidden or confused, one constant has been the explosion of activism in the digital space mainly via social media. The visibility of purposed people, content, networks and organizations became so large that a byproduct in “slacktivism,” also known as “clicktivism,” was named for the appearance of activism with little behind the screenshot. The ‘old guard’ called it being an “armchair revolutionary,” where for example hashtags for the deceased become passing trademarks instead of actual human life to be aware of, connect to, or stand for something in the name of.
But crafting a clever phrase before your Twitter handle, ‘blind’ sharing, the perfect upload and caption, or declaring “I am ______” is in many minds all that one can, or will do. (Though “Je Suis Charleston” was an on-point spin). The fail is when the thought and/or action ends there…
…still, the infinity of the internet combined with our infinite potential for creativity, emotion and reason as human beings has gifted us more power than we realize. While foot soldiers, organizers, celebrities and descendants of older activists create events, raise money, and carry out local if not national projects—a fire storm of online activism also cuts across global society. Media activism via the arts, entertainment, politics, technology and even sports is advancing the physical work of liberation for better quality of life, especially by “millenial activists.”
Activism for social change can mean being pro-active in different ways:
- Meeting needs
- Addressing what’s stopping needs from being met
- Creating empowerment in oppressed conditions
Breaking the line between slacktivism and activism in a simple first step, is genuinely wanting to. Listening, thinking critically, asking questions, checking bias, looking deeper into what concerns you, drawing connections, reflecting what matters to you, making better choices, using your voice, being active in your own home, community or network. Pick one, do three, just make it mean something. Taking it further in the physical and by using media, building platforms or creating focused visual campaigns are powers we all have.
Check out these online accounts, individuals and projects that continue the energy for better in fresh, provoking and distinct ways. We champion them for the energy they put into “the work.” #SALUTE.
No Slacktivism Here:
Aim: Edited videos show the very minimal and nonexistent speaking roles by actors of color in Hollywood films. Attention also paid to the accomplished* and Oscar-winning actors of color who still struggle to get more than a few minutes (or seconds) on camera, let alone in prominent roles.
“It seems like no matter how far I’ve come, or how much work I have under my belt, this industry still finds a way to tell me what I can and can’t represent,” he told BuzzFeed.
Aim: Exposing the depth, scope and appropriation of black culture through the arts, entertainment, activism, diaspora, and political development. Laugh, think, question, ‘aha,’ be stimulated, be proud, be informed. Also runs a blog featuring different writers on the “diversity and complexity of Blackness that is hidden so often.” Everything from ‘hood pranks’ and history to Marshawn Lynch and ‘the danger of forgiveness in the black community.’
From the ‘about’ section: “The black artist is dangerous. Black art controls the “Negro’s” reality, negates negative influences, and creates positive images.” — Dr. Sonia Sanchez*
Aims: (1) Engaging people to play a role in the fight for justice. (2) Providing a platform for people to get their basic activism and social studies questions answered while activists are working or on the ground. (3) Keeping people connected to rallies, events, news, media, resources and more ways to get involved from wherever you are.
“Movements are organized people and organized resources working towards a common goal.”
Links and More Info
- We highlighted Ruddy Roye of Instagram last month for “Activist NY”
- We shouted out “The Mugshot Series” on social but get into the entire Perception of Complexion project, now also traveling and getting museum love (congrats y’all!)
- Active Voices continues the #CheckYourBias campaign and live events
- Kevin Powell and BK Nation aka ‘Building Knowledge’ keeps journalism, youth events, and resources fresh for projects in leadership, health, economics, culture and education
- The huge Baltimore BLOC network stays connected and informed
- The Youth Channel is sincerely youth-led and offers free classes, majoring in television production for social justice
- So many plug into the Hip Hop Education network aka the ‘communiversity,’ transforming the approach of teaching and learning with everything from radio podcasts to visual content, educational tools, online discussions and events for all
- Sons & Brothers is a true powerhouse of activism, news, and real-time content to ultimately help young people reach their full potential
- Manifest Justice also in the California Endowment network champions art, justice, human rights, power and action
- Currently incarcerated activist Le’Taxione Carter has created literature and curriculum for Diamonds In The Rough, turning gang members into active resources for social change and C.O.A.C.H.E.S. to establish more mentorship in the inner city
- The Global Media Project spearheaded by Kimberly Selden brings US natives together with local residents for on-the-ground media activism in under-served African communities, creating original content in radio, film, print and social media
“Immerse yourselves in learning to apply current technologies to organizing. Your problems, your advances, your struggles can become international in seconds so blog constantly, equip our movement with a new voice, use admirably what is used against you. We have had setbacks due solely to our arrogance, our refusal to change and modify our approach. We have to rebuild our resources by seeking effective new ideas, if we commit to that, I believe we will be successful.”
– Kojo Bomani