Cutting the hashtag from #BLM

by Eliana Shin | October 5, 2020

This “trendification” is an issue; riding the wave of surface-level performative activism is not the same as taking an active part in Black Lives Matter. Art by Anika Jain (’22)

Flashback to early June: summer is officially here, I turn sixteen, and the Black Lives Matter Movement is reignited following the death of George Floyd. I open Instagram and scroll through black square after black square. Confused, I closed the app and returned a couple hours later to this text: “Where is your #blacklivesmatter post?”

Now, I am not claiming that these posts aren’t worthwhile or that those who posted anything are hopping on a “trend.” In fact, these posts helped demonstrate solidarity and block out content on #alllivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter. I even saw K-pop stans flood #whitelivesmatter with thousands of fancams and edits. But from what I can see, social media has turned this radical, imperative social justice movement into a hashtag.

First of all, the huge decrease in the number of posts about Black Lives Matter is evident. Of course, there are other causes like the California wildfires or voting that need to be talked about. Nonetheless, while I saw hundreds of posts about racial and systemic injustices in June, I only saw a couple in July, and now, none at all.

The fact is that this movement is far from over. Perpetrators of discrimination have not faced consequences and victims have not achieved justice. Why did we stop fighting?

I remember seeing several TikToks with people holding a fist up and lip-synching to a song about injustice. This is one of the clearer examples of the trending nature of the Black Lives Matter movement. I understand that some popular TikTokers can raise awareness with their videos, but that was it. That was the video. No petitions, donation links, or any sort of invitation to true action.

There is no real correlation, but I have noticed a ton of racist videos or comments from public figures resurface. I do not endorse cancel culture (while I do indulge in the occasional gossip column), but watching these events unfold was interesting. I had seen countless apologies, all beginning with something along the lines of “I’ve grown since [insert exposé] and have taken time to educate myself and process things….” It is often hard to prevent an eye roll on my part; racist ideas, even unintentional ones, do not disappear in an instant. The time to ponder is long gone; it is time to act.

We consume and circulate so much media surrounding Black Lives Matter, but fail to follow through. My analytical left brain picked up on some discrepancies in the numbers. While #blacklivesmatter has nearly 25 million posts, the Justice for Breonna Taylor petition only has 11 million signatures. That’s 14 million people who posted a picture but paid no effort to back up the cause with their actions, not including media from Snapchat or Twitter.

So, it seems to me that this movement has been reduced to a social media trend. This “trendification” is an issue; riding the wave of surface-level performative activism is not the same as taking an active part in Black Lives Matter. Experts suggest taking time to recognize our own racist ideologies and counteract them. In my opinion, start fresh! Use your platform, and follow through.

Categories: Opinions

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