How social media is helping combat racism

A picture depicting protests against racism

The recent homicide of George Floyd sent shock ripples across the globe. Can police brutality really take this heinous form? How can the color of the skin be a determinant of someone’s character?

Mass protests broke out in no time with the slogans of ‘Black Lives Matter’ and Floyd’s parting words “I can’t breathe”! Several people stood in solidarity, and soon anti-racism posts began to flood social media. A #blackouttuesday movement came up on Facebook-owned platform Instagram, with many well-known pages – from brands to influencers and organizations to celebrities, registering their protests and encouraging supporters to do the same.

Now, there are two things that can be made out from this – 1) The shadow pandemic is deeper and darker than we had imagined and 2) Technology can help us beat racism!

Reflecting on the latter, use of technology in this case mostly refers to social media and other information platforms, that are helping people become more open-minded and at the same time unveiling the bane of hate-theory. 

Earlier, agencies like the United Nations (UN) were the only source of spreading social harmony among the masses, but with the development of platforms like Twitter and Facebook, more and more common people have been able to reach out to their counterparts with the message of inclusivity. People have started to speak up about their personal experiences and how racism can cripple a person’s mental health dramatically. A survey by the Royal College of Psychiatry showed that although British adults of color had the highest mean score for severity of mental wellness, they were the least likely to sort medication for it. Sociali platforms have helped many get over this stigma though. 

Bouts of support has poured in from all across the world for the victims of racism, and many have even got to the extent of raising funds to support businesses owned by people of color in the community. The anti-racism movement also instilled a sense of ‘online kindness ’, and this has definitely led to folks becoming more compassionate towards each other. However, like we stated earlier, the macabre side of the movement soon began to be highlighted. Heartbreaking images of peaceful protestors being attacked with tear gas started to surface online. The police department indeed drew in a lot of flak, ripples of which could even be felt in the entertainment industry, which took down several shows featuring cops in order to show their oneness.  

One of the major reasons for increasing use of social media is perhaps the pandemic! As the global workforce got online and social distancing took the front-stage, increasing numbers of people found it the best way to connect with one another. This not just helped them check in on friends and family members but also enlightened them about issues concerning the society.

In a country like India, racism has been a major issue but never got the required attention. Many a time we have come across people casually remarking on someone else’s skin color, knowing little about the psychological implications of it. Several inhabitants across the subcontinent raised their concerns over India’s obsession with ‘fair skin’ promoted in the form of creams and moisturizers. The manufacturers of the product soon re-labeled, rather ‘re-branded’ their products, but it certainly does not end the problem. Social media managed to have some impact though surely.

The problem of racism is far and wide and online platforms are just a tool to reduce it. What’s important is a change in the mindset of the masses, and this is possible only through proper education and explanation of the issue. Twitter and Facebook are not a doom! They have their own perks too!  

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. ~Martin Luther King Jr.