BY KAREN SUROS
The Black Lives Matter movement is nothing new; it has been around since 2013, when George Zimmerman was acquitted for the murder of Trayvon Martin. However, the movement was given new life this year, after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers angered people worldwide.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in some cases, the saying rings true. The pictures of countless Black lives lost to police brutality say many things about the racism still prevalent in America today. An individual may post a picture of themselves and their friends at a protest thinking they are showing solidarity with the Black community, but in reality it comes off as though they care more about maintaining their feed than they do about fighting for justice.
Since the death of George Floyd, protests have taken place worldwide. Attendees typically support the movement passionately, organizing and attending protests in the hopes that their pleas for justice will be heard by authorities. Unfortunately, some individuals use the protests as opportunities to post “aesthetically pleasing” pictures on social media platforms rather than to speak out for the greater good.
Posing for a photo in the midst of protesting reduces the movement and the victims associated to a mere backdrop. It is so much more than that. After centuries of oppression, the movement is representation for a minority group to make their voices heard and demand change that has been denied to them countless times before.
Posing for a photo in the midst of protesting reduces the movement and the victims associated to a mere backdrop. It is so much more than that.
It is necessary to note that in some cities, protests have turned violent, sparking riots and damage to communities. Using riots as an opportunity to take pictures may glorify this destruction and cause the movement to lose credibility. Black Lives Matter is a peaceful cause, and protests are always organized with good intentions; the actions of a few individuals should not discredit its goals.
Of course, posting about a protest is an acceptable way to spread awareness and solidify one’s participation in these historical events. Times like this are seldom times to keep quiet; it is essential to speak out against injustice. However, it is more helpful to spread information about the origin of the movement and its goals than it is to spread skewed images of protests. This way, one might recruit more supporters, strengthen the cause and educate those who might not fully grasp the root of the cause of it.
Treating protests as photo ops is not demonstrative activism, but performative activism. This is the term used to describe activism done out of the desire for increased social standing rather than passion for the cause at hand. Silence is violence, but performative activism is not much better. It is more useful to utilize resources to educate oneself on the issue first, and then to share these discoveries with the world in a way that does not insult the movement.
“Although we should not have to, it is our job, as humans in this world, to stand up for what is right and demand change in all aspects including police reform, racial justice, and so much more,” CCHS senior Kaela Goldstein said.
All photos comply with fair use standards