Every day across the globe, marginalized people face mistreatment. That is a fact of life in a world where societies were built upon the oppression of certain groups of people. In New York where I live, as well as within the whole of the United States, there has been a massive call to action for the past month to address police brutality against African Americans and systemic racism in all its forms. Marches and peaceful protests have been happening for over 30 days since Minneapolis police took the life of George Floyd, which was the cause of the initial protests.
Wikipedia published an interactive map showing every city across the globe that held a protest in honor of George Floyd. Since then, social media in the U.S. has become a hub of knowledge and resources calling for people to educate themselves on the racist history of the United States in order to combat racism in the modern-day.
Through these discussions, issues connected to racism have been brought up as well as global problems propelling these movements forward. I personally have made the conscious decision to dedicate my social media to spreading knowledge because it is important to spread awareness in an accessible manner. While some people can afford to purchase books, scholarly articles, and media on these topics, at the same time many people cannot. Social media is an amazing tool when it comes to spreading free knowledge. Many people are taking the time to create concise yet detailed threads on important topics and events occurring throughout the United States (and the world!) I’ve learned a lot just based on the information provided in these threads. And the beauty of social media is that sharing this information is extremely easy. I can learn about something new and share it with my followers within seconds. It doesn’t matter that I’m not a big influencer, we all have a role to play and as you dedicate the time to learn the truth, people will listen to what you have to share.
Here are a few pieces of advice if you are considering using your platform to spread awareness:
1. First and foremost, take the time to educate yourself
As mentioned earlier, this is a key step to begin with. It is very important to have accurate knowledge on social issues as well as the true history of how those systems came to be. Before you post, make sure you’ve fact-checked what you have to say or the post you’re sharing comes from a reliable source.
2. Interact with your peers
Not everyone is affected by every issue a person can face. I, as a white American woman, can speak on my personal experiences with misogyny, but I have no personal experiences with racism, and thus cannot speak on it. Therefore, it is crucial to listen to the people around you. Everybody has a different perspective and unique experiences to offer, it is worth it to listen to others and what they have to say. As much as books and articles can educate us, people and their personal experiences can teach us the same amount of knowledge, if not more.
3. Be open to criticism and changing your mind
We all don’t get it right on the first try. Social issues run deep within their respective societies and intertwine in ways we can’t always see. Therefore, it’s imperative to have an open mind. No one likes being criticized or told they’ve said something wrong, but it’s more beneficial to you and the people your surrounded by to be ready and willing to do better research and change your opinion.
4. Shift the focus of your social media away from yourself
Using your social media as a tool to raising awareness takes dedication! If you are not willing to take the focus off yourself, it may not be the best way you can personally make a change. Your social media may not be considered aesthetically pleasing, but making a change is more important than having a theme.
5. Commit long-term
Posting once or twice isn’t enough to push movements forward and does little to make real change. The point of using social media as a tool is not letting people forget about the injustices that occur every day.
And remember, you are never too powerless to make a difference, every person propelling social issues into the spotlight counts. Movements only work with people coming together as a community!
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Raina is a 4th year student at SUNY Albany studying Psychology and Music. She is originally from Queens, NY but moved upstate to attend university. Her interests include fashion and avant garde makeup styles.