Social media stands up to racism

Going global: Black Lives Matter protests have taken place from California to Australia. © Getty

Can social media be a force for good? Last week, millions posted black squares across channels in support of the Black Lives Matter movement – but critics suggest it is not enough.

What’s happening

Instagram was unrecognisable. Instead of a wall of colourful posts and bright advertisements, news feeds were filled with black squares. Millions of people in the US and around the world had paused their normal social posts to make way for one shared, global message. It was Blackout Tuesday.

Find out more

There have been several nights of anti-racism protests in more than 30 cities across the USA. The protests began in reaction to the death of a black man, George Floyd, while being stopped by white policemen.

The protests quickly spread online, with millions of people turning to social media to support the Black Lives Matter campaign. Celebrities, such as Michelle Obama, Ariana Grande, and Beyoncé, joined in with posts calling for change.

Last week, people around the world took part in Blackout Tuesday, sharing black squares instead of images and tagging Black Lives Matter. Some refused to take part, though, arguing that posting on social media was a way to deal with guilt and avoid real activism.

Can social media be a force for good?

Some say…

Yes! Social media is used by millions of people all over the world. It is the best way to spread stories quickly and share important information. Celebrities can use their social media presence to provoke change. Because social media is immediate, it can reflect people’s emotions and thoughts, and spread awareness to an extremely wide audience.

Others think…

It is just another way to show off. Posting on social media about important issues does not solve problems. Online posts are simply a way for people to make themselves feel good through virtue signalling. Movements like Blackout Tuesday only work if people taking part are engaged with the issue. Otherwise, the whole movement loses its meaning.

You Decide

  1. Is social media just an opportunity for people to boast?

Activities

  1. Create a social media post on a topic you feel strongly about and share it with your friends.

Some People Say...

“If people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Nelson Mandela

What do you think?

Word Watch

Anti-racism
People are standing up to racism – in the USA, it was particularly against the American police force.
Black Lives Matter
A campaign set up in 2013 by activists supporting black people in America.
Activism
Using campaigning to bring about social change.
Virtue signalling
Emma Watson has been accused of posting about Black Lives Matter to gain public approval without taking part in any kind of activism.

Subjects

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