We're Mad Now: Why Social Media Activism Matters
I was standing at the bathroom sink with my Lysol spray bottle in my hand when I first found out about the Zimmerman verdict. If I’d been cleaning instead of procrastinating on my Twitter timeline, I might have delayed the sick, sinking feeling I experienced when I learned that Zimmerman was found not guilty on all charges. I might have delayed the way my hands shook as I read the tweets of outrage and disbelief. I might have delayed the chill that overtook my body as I saw Zimmerman smile when his attorneys congratulated him. But even if I’d stayed in the bathroom and scrubbed my sink until my hands turned raw, there was no way I could have avoided the news – George Zimmerman, the man who killed a young black kid, not much older than my little brother, was walking free. My heart bled (and still does) for the family of Trayvon Martin.
My immediate reaction was to call my mother, and she listened very quietly as I ranted and raved. Then I took to Twitter to rant and rave some more. I could barely contain my hurt and my anger, and the sympathetic tweets of my counterparts, white, black and otherwise were like fuel to a fire that burned in the pit of my soul. Another black life, gone down the drain, and not a soul was going to suffer for it. How could we not be mad? How could we not be hurt?
Of course, taking to Twitter may not have been the wisest choice because there were plenty of people who really ought to consider the value of shutting up. I was enraged by those who celebrated Zimmerman’s freedom, who rejoiced that another black thug was off the streets. I was pissed off by those who wanted us to go back to talking about the inane and the trivial, and annoyed by those people who tweeted nonsense for attention. But I was most angered by those individuals, particularly Black ones, who accused of us of being “fake mad” because we “ignored” black on black violence and were happy to “clap on beat before2 Chainz said ‘birthday’” or “spend money on studio time before [we] send a box of condoms to Africa” before this case. We were accused of being overnight activists and shedding fake tears. We were told, by one of our own celebrities that we ought to rub our faces in it and swallow down the hard pill because “Black blood spills in the streets of America nightly and the hands of other blacks.” Ok, and…?
So because we, as a people, have not been conscious or active or resistant to our own oppression and self-destruction before this, we should all go back to twerking and buying Jordans?
Are we to remain apathetic because these things happen all the time? Why must our tears be fake because we never cried before? Why must our activism be invalidated because we were not activists before? Is this how you encourage a people to change? So what if we weren’t mad before? We’re mad now!
Here’s my humble opinion of the arrogant black individuals who think that they are better than those whose consciousness and awakening were triggered by this case and who feel that the hurt and anger that came out of this verdict are not valid: you have failed your own people. You were not born conscious. Perhaps your parents raised you differently; perhaps your interests were different from that of your peers. Perhaps you had access to information that other Black people were not aware existed. Maybe you even tried to share that information, only for it to fall on deaf ears. But you do not get the right to belittle those who are only now coming to the same conclusions about revolution as you are, if you gave up on your people.
You think Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X just woke up one day and had hundreds of thousands see their perspective, and follow them. Not likely. But they persevered, and they lead a revolution. Where’s the revolution you’re leading? Show me what you’ve done to change the world
. You are no better than the unconscious man, if you are conscious but fail to act on those things you see and understand. Again, I say, show me your revolution.
Please understand, that no matter how profound your philosophy, in the eyes of the racist, in the hands of a system that was not designed to protect us, you are just another black person. So how dare you condemn your own people when they speak of revolution and of protest and of fighting for justice?
But I am going to leave those “fearless leaders” and “kings of consciousness” to their own devices, because I believe that some (if not all) of those people who are burning with anger at Zimmerman’s freedom, are ready for real change and I only hope that someone is ready to lead them. For my part, I encourage rationality. I want my people to react, but I do not want to see them react in a way that would give those who despised us reason to justify their hatred. I do not want us to be reduced to a news story that ends with the blood of more black men (and women) flowing in the streets. I encourage my American counterparts to protest without violence and to continue to treat their white neighbours and friends with humanity.
There are white men and women who want to stand in the streets and hold your hand and protest with you. Let them. Every voice counts. Stand your ground in the face of those who don’t believe that you have a fight worth fighting. Stand your ground against those who do not think you are a soldier worthy of the fight.
You are a revolutionary and an activist the moment you decide to be one.
Protest and revolution won’t bring Trayvon back, and it may not even put Zimmerman behind bars, but it will be a declaration that we will not sit silently in the face of injustice.