I have many friends who has recently decided to deactivate their facebook accounts, unfriend the entirety of their friends list, or delete all social media apps completely. This is not a post on judging them or their choices. I love everyone of them. Each and every person makes their own choices based on their own needs, health and wellbeing. They do not all fit in this category. If you are willing to address, educate and speak about racism and the risks it creates for our society, social media may not be your particular method of working towards change and that’s ok. It is completely valid to acknowledge that the current events have recently been incredibly intense and emotionally overwhelming. I just hope that I can share my thoughts on why this could be harmful.
White privilege in a nutshell is advantages that white people inherit due to their race in societies that are frequently found to be racially unequal or unjust. This could be having healthier relationships with adults and administrators at school, or it could be feeling safe to walk home from work. Like many, I take advantage of these privileges. There is a much less risk that I will be unlawfully arrested or/shot and killed. I will not encounter discrimination due to my race in my workplace or while I am asking for assistance from a professor. The list goes on and on.
Once I started college, I truly started to understand diversity and learn about how white privilege impacted my life. Within the last week though, I realized that even actions such as being unwilling to participate in conversations or deactivating your social media until “this has all settled down” is also an example of white privilege.
Social media has been filled with videos of protests, riots, and violent acts. It has also been filled with statuses that are attempting to educate people on the hate and violence that has been disbursed all around the country due to racism and prejudice. There are comments, hundreds and thousands of comments where people argue about basic human rights and decency. I will not lie and say that there isn’t heart wrenching material on social media right now. What I do know though, is that our ability to walk away from this hate, racism and violence is a privilege that we don’t even recognize.
What happens when you deactivate your social media?
1. You become unaware of current events and cut off an outlet that can educate you.
Let me say this first. I do recognize that there are many false accusations and resources on the internet. What I do know though is that social media is meant to connect us to our loved ones, friends and other people who all experience different circumstances. I can imagine the reason why you are on facebook is to stay in touch with those friends from college, your former students, or long distance family. Sometimes the people who are close to us are the ones that have stories, thoughts and experiences they can share that can educate you and help you understand.
2. You are taking advantage of your ability to walk away from our societal dilemmas.
I can hear someone reading my blog now saying “Anyone can deactivate or walk away from their social media.” Yes, you are correct. That’s not what I am talking about though. People of color do not have the advantage of walking away from racism and discrimination, at least not in our society currently. People of color are scared of dying on a regular basis. White people have the opportunity to turn away and pretend that those struggles don’t exist. Black mothers are sitting with their young children teaching them to dress very cleanly no matter where they are, never run or put their hands in their pockets, come straight home and if a police officer stops them, never argue or question, just give in immediately. Do whatever they have to do to stay alive. Walking from social media is another way to pretend that this injustice and harm isn’t real. It is though. It is real.
3. You walk away from your ability to create change.
Recently, a former teacher of mine said “Growth is pain.” and it feels so relevant in this. Our society that is currently filled with such violence and hate will not be changed without a sense of pain or discomfort. People are getting hurt. People are dying. People are losing loved ones. This should be uncomfortable. It is normal to cry, and feel emotional. It may even make you feel sick. You have the choice to walk away to make it less uncomfortable for yourself, but what about others.
Instead of walking away from this discomfort though, you can use this discomfort to change. Use this pain to grow and create a healthier world around you. Educate yourself. Learn how you can speak up against racism in your own community. Create conversations with people of color you know. Acknowledge your white privilege. Ask what you can do to use your white privilege to improve the community. Use your voice because you have one.
Here are some ways to support the cause, even if social media is not your medium of engagement:
1. Speak to people you know. Read about experiences of POC. Educate yourself on the discrimination and oppression that is happening in our current society.
2. Donate to Charitable Organizations that coordinate, plan and represent people of color. Here are are just a few:
- The ACLU (an organization that uses donations to fight legal battles and create change in the justice system)
- The Okra Project (an organization that provides meals and resources to the black trans community) https://www.theokraproject.com/
- The Loveland Foundation (an organization that raises money for black women and girls to attend therapy) https://thelovelandfoundation.org/
- Embrace Race (an organization that uses funds to educate children in racial inequality and creating resilience against discrimination through provided resources such as webinars, children’s stories, articles and more.) https://www.embracerace.org/about
3. Speak up against racism when in conversation with friends, family or acquaintances. It’s uncomfortable, but necessary.
4. Connect with others through different stories, experiences and cultures.
We can all make a change. If you want the world to calm down, help create change. Create a society where everyone deserves love, support, kindness and Justice no matter who they are or what they look like.
It’s time. It will be uncomfortable but let’s make a change.