Jermaine Thomas, II
Social Media Is Our Television
While reflecting on the passing of Civil Rights Icon, Rep. John Lewis. I began to draw connections between the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s to our Civil Rights Movement of present-day, also known as the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement.
Due to my area of study during undergrad, my mind almost immediately begins to ponder on the ways in which media impacts our daily lives. With the help of the Afternoon Agency’s podcast around Mental Health in minoritized communities and the impact of social media in that conversation, I realized that social media is our television. Not only is it where Gen Z goes for entertainment, but it’s also where we get our news, a useful communication tool, and can also serve as an escape from the rigors of daily life. To me, that sounds a lot like television during the 1960s.
Looking at the issues of police brutality and horrific abuse of power, social media has been a reliable tool to spread information and visuals of the abusive nature that police officers perpetuate around the country, and even the world.
When these images take over our phone screens as we scroll, we can’t look away. In 1963, when all three major news channels were reporting on the happenings of Bloody Sunday in Selma, America could not look away. As a black, gay man who has never had the privilege to look away, these are the images I see basically every day. Black and brown people are fighting day in and day out to live the equitable life they deserve and in the fight for that right to live, they are tear-gassed, arrested, and thrown into unmarked vehicles while being labeled terrorists and criminals.
It seems that this fight is never-ending. Back then, the end goal of the marches in Selma was to get Black Americans registered to vote. Voting is a simple liberty that so many people have now begun to take for granted. Now, Black Americans are marching for our lives. Lives that are being taken away by police officers specifically about 2x higher than the rate of white lives.
John Lewis spent the majority of his life fighting for the human rights of Black people in the United States. How much longer do BIPOC who call America home have to suffer day in and day out at the hands of white supremacy, racism, misogynoir, and a host of other systems and ideals deliberately built to bar us into second-rate citizenship. The time to fight is now. There is room for inclusion and equity in every space you are in. Now is the time to speak up and take up the space that is designated for you or give the space to someone whom space has been historically stolen from. There are 1,001 different ways to support a movement. Find yours.
Donate to the John Lewis Bridge Project here.
Photographer: Rick Diamond