By Megan Evans
We have had one of the most horrendous starts to any year of this century so far, not only due to the world turning upside-down from the coronavirus outbreak, but also with the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor - both of which served as catalysts for Black Lives Matter protests, riots and demonstrations that followed around the world.
The #BlackLivesMatter and #WhatMatters2020 campaign aimed to help grow this movement, which has reached all corners of the globe. In early June 2020, #blackouttuesday saw millions of Instagram users posting a black square on their account, in order to shed some light onto the systematic victimisation of many people of colour by the justice system (particularly in America). BLM supporters and allies in the 2020 Presidential Election needed to build up collective support in order to beneficially impact the Black communities across the nation and take a stand against police brutality.
Social media platforms have become a safe haven for a lot of people of colour as they have unified all genders, races and social classes to come together and spread awareness of problems that have been cast aside for many decades. For example, if we look back through the past few years, there have been many cases in which the criminal sentences have not fitted the crimes. Some of these include Eric Garner, for 'suspiciously selling cigarettes', Micheal Brown for stealing and Tamir Rice, 12, for ‘looking like a juvenile’. The fact that these courageous young men have no life left to live, simply because of racist stereotypes, is entirely unjust.
The involvement that has been shown from top influencers, actors and singers from a whole range of nationalities shows how significant social media can be when it comes to speaking out against the rigid government system.
There have been many methods used to take on this challenge, such as having more people pledge to vote, donating money to charities, fundraising and signing petitions.
By allowing people to use social media platforms to communicate these acts of defiance, it has imposed a warning to the future for a new generation of change and hope. Whilst racism will unfortunately always be present, people are learning to embrace new beginnings of multiculturalism globally. How would we have known about all of these acts of violence without the likes of Instagram and Twitter?
The removal of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol was a definite mark of rebellion against the city's history, and protestors actively sought out change. Bristol is a city that thrived off of the riches earned by Colston in the seventeenth century. Many gathered to tear down this statue, due to Colston's involvement in the slave trade and the city's troublesome past with slave labour and child slavery, after a long history of campaigns to remove this statue from its position in Bristol failed.
The Bristol Post comments on how it has faced a substantial amount of criticism over the years, branding that the statue does not show the diversity and multiculturalism of the city that it well and truly deserves. Most of the city is built upon a slave trade past that should not be commemorated in a manner that brands a statue such as this as a ‘hero’. Whilst I feel we cannot change the past, times are moving forward and people are much more free-thinking. This can be shown by the fact that online petitions three years ago, which barely managed to attain 100 signatures to remove the Colston statue, now with the spark of turmoil and anger have tens of thousands of signatures.
Colston’s name has also been removed from other various locations such as the top of an office block in Bristol’s City Centre, pubs, businesses and schools. This shows the growing and ever-lasting effects that using social media can have when it comes to passing on the Black Lives Matter message. It will forever be engrained into our present and future decisions.