Now that many of us have taken to Instagram by storm, showing our love and support as we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, it is time to continue taking matters into our own hands. Re-posting on our Instagram stories is just the start. We must go above and beyond, because this fight is not over, and this most certainly isn’t a passing trend. We are fighting for a better future. There is so much more we can do after showing our support through social media posts, and during a time where we have access to unlimited resources and the power to educate ourselves, we must let our voices roar.
The importance of education, teaching ourselves from right and wrong and understanding the privilege we may have can be used as a tool to help ourselves and the people around us uncover deeper truths we were unaware of. “The Arrow Journal” is the perfect place to start, as it includes many blog-style posts and longer essays on pressing social, political and cultural activism, along with personal testimonials. Each published piece is unique and forces the reader to reflect and “take a walk in the author’s shoes.”
Netflix recently launched a Black Lives Matter Collection that includes movies, TV shows and documentaries, which can fill in gaps of knowledge viewers may have and keep the conversation going. We cannot rely on what “we already think we know,” and going forward, it is up to each of us to stop, reflect and educate ourselves. We must become aware of the society we live in and how we are going to help make change happen.
Recently, many high school students have taken to Instagram, opening up about the racism they have encountered during the school day, how their administration dealt with it and how they feel about the course material taught. This is leading some school districts to implement changes to the curriculum and promises for a better educational future, and students are becoming more confident with contacting their schools and voicing their opinions.
There is a lot we can learn from these high school students when it comes to reaching out and using our voices. Emailing and calling local officials and discussing our concerns can help us understand whether the official is meeting the needs of their constituents. This also helps the general public decide whether or not their local official is doing their absolute most to ensure a safer tomorrow. We cannot waste time waiting for another community member to speak up during a time like this. It is everyone’s responsibility to fight for much needed change, and contacting local officials, local governments and township leaders is a good place to start.
When we reflect on civic duty and how we can become active members of our local and national government, the first thing that comes to mind is voting. Over the years, we have begun to realize the importance of voting, and not just during national elections, but during primaries and smaller elections as well. However, there is so much more we can do besides the bare minimum of voting every four years.
Peaceful protests have been occurring in both major cities and suburban towns. These protests are a way for supporters to gather, discuss and show their support. My local township has also set up many meetings outside our township building, where community members are invited to ask questions to our local police department and learn more about how they can support the Black community in our area. Currently, many alumni of the public school district in my area are in the process of planning meetings with the school administration. They plan to talk about ways to integrate more Black history education and discussions in classrooms ranging from elementary to high school. Planning events like these, where the public has the opportunity to voice their concerns, desires and opinions, is powerful and can be started by a small group of people.
While social media may be the first place most of us think about as a way to share our opinion, it is important to remember it is not the only way. We have to keep this conversation going and not limit it to just Instagram and Snapchat. It may be uncomfortable for some people, but now is not the time to be shying away from “difficult” conversations. And in the end, all it takes is one person to start a chain reaction and make a lasting impact on their community.