More recently than ever, social movements have developed a strong presence online and have been associated with changing the perspective of millennials. What exactly started this? The 2014 failed indictment of Michael Brown’s killer Darren Wilson, which sparked a series of posts that revealed anger and distress with links to articles, GIFs, memes, and more. Although there were protests carried out nationwide, the now dubbed “Tumblr Activism” played a major role in allowing the issue to remain a topic when new events occurred with similar outcomes. Thanks to this activism, I myself was prompted to create a Tumblr account and follow those who I knew would keep me updated and remind me of our, the Black millennial, struggle.
Because of this outbreak of empowered millennials not only on Tumblr but also on Facebook and Twitter, we appeared to be more human or less apathetic according The New York Times article linked above. This in turn changed our mindset in that we realized how powerful we can be both on social media and in protests. Personally, I was unable to maintain a direct influence on social media during the Ferguson protests and riots due to studying abroad in Spain at the time. However, I was able to personally remark on the Baltimore riots that broke out in the spring of 2015 in response to Freddie Gray’s death. This was when I realized the importance of being able to reach out, share, and discuss the events occurring as they occurred. It also revealed to me how these tense moments coupled with the right or wrong types of Facebook statuses would help to friend/unfriend as many people as possible depending on their reactions.
Another tool that helped in following/unfollowing certain people were hashtags. Following the Baltimore riots, activists maintained their presence (or rejuvenated them) on Twitter with the help of hashtags to share new information, highlight injustices, and promote self-love. While researching, my favorite article that I found gathered the top ten #BlackTwitter moments of last year. Number 2 #sayhername, was used to share Black women’s experiences with police brutality; number 7 #ifidieinpolicecustody highlighted the injustice that occurred when the media failed to fairly report on the unknown death of Sandra Bland; while number 3 #blackgirlmagic promoted self-love among Black girls and is still used to promote sisterhood as well when praising each other’s ‘magic’.
Although these activists have positive intentions and are working towards the betterment of their community, they unfortunately still experience backlash that is not due. In my next post, I will be discussing the dark side of #BeingBlackOnline.