Thinking about our discussions regarding the BLM movement, especially in comparison to earlier protest movements, has only stressed just how valuable social media is for activist movements. Several of the Watts Rebellion news clips we watched during Monday’s movie screening were horrendously biased; not only did they belittle the very real problems faced by African Americans within a racist society, they actively worked to remove any sense of wrongdoing from the minds of white viewers. The message these clips promoted: “This is not a failure of our culture, but instead a failure of African Americans to embrace our (equality based and not at all racist) culture.” This sort of media allowed white audiences to ignore the very real problems in American society and instead point fingers at those suffering the most from our racist culture. Unfortunately, this trend of ignorance continues today. News media remains white-oriented. Even the most liberal of news anchors often paint BLM movement activists as unruly, and wonder how African Americans can have any complaints in a society that is “racially equal” (I especially loved the voice clips in White Like Me wherein multiple news anchors claim racism ended with Obama’s presidential inauguration). However, through social media, activists can help break down the lies often perpetuated by white news media. BLM activists can relate their stories and viewpoints to nearly as wide an audience as traditional news media. It’s such a huge step forward for those without media representation to have an outlet through which to share their perspectives and their struggles. It gives activists a rallying point that reaches beyond their local sphere. Grass-root organizations no longer remain small and isolated, but instead garner support across the nation. I’m sure we’ll be talking more about social media as the semester progresses, but it’s worth thinking how differently events like the Watts Rebellions might have been perceived had social media been a factor at the time. Would the Rebellions, which were widely viewed by white audiences as negative and violent outbursts, instead have had a more sympathetic and supportive audience? Just food for thought, especially since the use of social media is (and will likely continue to be) prevalent in activist movements worldwide.


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