By: Leslie Lopez
I remember being a freshman in high school when the news spread wide about the murder of Trayvon Martin on Twitter. He was 17, just two years older than me. “It must have been a misunderstanding,” I thought, but little did I know this would not be the first or last time I would hear about such a hate crime via social media.
This terrible tragedy was my first look into the social injustices faced by individuals, especially black folks, and all thanks to social media. That following year, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice’s deaths (may they rest in power) were all caught on camera and began to circle various social media sites. This ultimately led to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. Unfortunately, the frequency of cases of police brutality began to desensitize the untimely deaths of black people.
Personally, social media allowed me to truly see the injustices in the world and helped me find my voice. It made me angry, but it also made me want to do something about it. Without having access to platforms like Twitter and Tumblr, I would not have become so passionate about social justice at a young age. On the other hand, social media has somewhat normalized these incidents. Time and time again do I see a video with a person’s lifeless body on my feed, which is triggering to say the least. And while I understand that we should be aware of what is happening to our black counterparts, we need to acknowledge the overexposure of such graphic images and videos.
The constant showcasing of these images can have so many effects on individuals, especially black folx. One’s mental health may suffer drastically. Not to mention, the continuous coverage normalizes this. When something is normalized, we are no longer affected by it as it feels like an everyday occurence and leads to apathy from individuals.
There are other actions we can take which prove to be less harmful. Let us start by dismantling the anti-blackness in the Latinx community and acknowledging that black Latinxs exist! Let’s stop spreading such damaging videos on social media, and instead help the families of those affected by donating our money or time to them. Lastly, being aware that the criminal justice system is extremely flawed and people of color are rightfully untrusting of law enforcement so we need to take a lot of precaution when getting them involved. And to our white allies, be aware of the privilege you possess and use it to help those who are often unfairly targeted.
Leslie is an Afro–Latina from Irving, Texas and was chosen as a RRASC intern for the 2018 cohort. She is currently pursuing a Psychology degree as well as a Women’s and Gender Studies minor at the University of North Texas. Leslie hopes to go back to her community and offer affordable mental health services to low income individuals and LGBTQ+ youth. She is very excited to be interning at COLOR and hopes to gain a well-rounded experience this summer. In Leslie’s free time, she likes to attend concerts, listen to Latinx podcasts, and admire art.