Fighting for Social Justice Online

Posts that help and hurt the movement

If you haven’t noticed the protests erupting across the nation, you surely live under a rock! Following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, anger quickly grew among the African American and allied communities. Large crowds, in some places thousands of people, have gathered to protest his death, call for justice and for the involved officers to be arrested, and for systematic changes to rid America of racism. The protests have all started peacefully and many have stayed peaceful, while others have been corrupted by looters and violence.

COVID-19 Complicates Protesting Efforts

These protests have arrived at a difficult time, as COVID-19 still lurks in the shadows. Fears of new outbreaks persist, and many states are still just attempting to slowly reopen businesses and return to (somewhat) normal life. While some Americans were already expressing frustration about the economic shutdown and eagerness to reopen in the past few weeks, others have expressed concerns about reopening.

Prior to the current protests, some Americans were already out protesting the continuing economic shutdown due to COVID-19

Protests are one of the worst places to practice social distancing. Large crowds, close together, marching and chanting in unison can become a powerful display under normal circumstances. However, under coronavirus circumstances, the situation is a little more complicated. Those who are deeply upset by the murder of George Floyd and motivated to fight for the cause along with protestors have to weigh their desire to go out and protest with fears of potentially contracting or spreading coronavirus. For immunocompromised people, protesting is even more dangerous right now.

While there are precautions protestors can take if they do choose to physically go out and protest (for example, properly wearing a mask and keeping it on), others have taken to speaking out online as a form of COVID-safe protesting.

What Types of Posts are Helpful?

Emma Watson was one of many celebrities (and normal people) to partake in #blackouttuesday by posting a black square to Instagram

This past Tuesday, you may have noticed people you follow on Instagram posting black squares accompanied with a #blackouttuesday, #theshowmustbepaused, and/or #blacklivesmatter caption. The origin of this social media movement started in the music industry by two black female industry leaders Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas. They began with #TheShowMustBePaused and asked others in the industry to suspend normal social media posts on June 2nd, and instead take the time to listen to black voices, talk to family and friends about important issues, or simply take pause and reflect.

The initiative was met with mixed reviews. Well intentioned posters flooded #blacklivesmatter with black squares, which proved to be a problem considering protesters have been using the hashtag for communication and organizing purposes. Important information was being flushed out of users feeds by the influx of black squares. Others were quick to point out that due the amount of black squares more directly helpful posts (such as links to GoFundMe pages for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and black business owners affected by looting) were being buried by well intentioned, but ultimately useless posts.

Some social media posts are more helpful than others, and luckily, many people have put together concise lists of ways people who can’t or don’t want to protest outdoors can help from the safety of their home. Here’s a great example:

In general, a good rule of thumb to follow before posting is to ask yourself: “Is this post going to spread useful information, provide resources, and/or provoke meaningful thought?” If the answer is no, it may be distracting from the cause instead of helping it. From what I’ve observed and learned from others online, these are the most valuable posts you can share on social media to add to the current movement:

  • Links to relevant donation pages and petitions.
  • Information about protest locations and protesting safety tips.
  • Suggestions of black/POC owned small businesses to support.
  • Instructions on how to register to vote, and other important voting information.
  • Phone numbers and emails for relevant political representatives.
  • Social media pages that are informative and/or pushing the movement forward.

That being said, I’ll end this post with a few links to petitions and donations you may be interest in signing or donating to:

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