I am what people would call a lurker on Facebook.
I exist on social media to survey, detect, and observe. I chuckle at a new meme that surfaces on my news feed, cringe at videos compiling all of Donald Trump’s public gaffes, and read through statuses involving modern day political discourse, all while trying to stay impartial and disinterested. I have kept my social media controversial-free since the seventh grade, when I posted a status asking for “likes” if you cared about Jesus (but then, what wouldn’t a seventh-grader post for “likes” and recognition).
Early on when I took my private life to public online domain, I made the conscious decision to steer clear from dialogues involving the social, the political, and the economical. I saw it as a zero-sum game: no one party would come out of the dialogue benefiting from it, and the dialogue in itself would actually lead to an even greater chasm than what was present before.
I will be the first to admit that I am a cynic. Rather than placing myself in the ever-so-important conversation of race, police brutality, and the like, I chose to observe from afar and take the stance of a bystander. It didn’t connect with me how an impassioned status or a shared link on Facebook could lead to a significant upheaval of the status quo. Thus, I ceased to voice my thoughts on social media and looked on from the comfort of my revolving chair as my dear black brothers and sisters uproared, cried, and feared.
It first started with Alton Sterling. Then Philandro Castle. Then simultaneous rallies across the country. Then 11 Dallas police officers shot, 5 of whom were pronounced dead. Then the death of my high school English teacher from stomach cancer.
Mainstream media made the public desensitized to the death of humans. Lives became numbers, shootings became a form of entertainment, public condemnation became soundbites, and humanity became just a page in the history textbook that will be read 20 years from now. We will mourn for these victims, write enraged Facebook posts, seek comfort from other people of color, and move on, hoping that these things don’t happen in the future.
The moment when these murders become a part of the cycle, however, is when we become complacent of systematic killings of marginalized people. I know I have no ethos in making these proclamations, given that I am not vocal about these things.
But I have to wonder: am I siding with the oppressor for not raising my voice? Am I contributing to the cause of complacency? Did Alton Sterling, Philandro Castle, and the police officers die because of me? Am I a part of the problem?
For the first time in my social media career, I am choosing to record my point of view on this issue and disturb the balance of impartiality that I have dearly held onto for the past many years.
While not all police officers are racist in the core, there are legacies of institutional and inherent racism that pervade our judicial system, our police force, and most importantly, us.
There, I said it. I just made a claim, and as weird as hell it may be, I feel as if a huge boulder has been lifted off my shoulders.
The particular racism I speak of paints a bigger picture of how citizens of the United States have become political pawns to the judicial system. It’s the reason why Korean-Americans were pitted against Blacks and Latinos during the 1992 LA Riot, the reason why no statistics available to the public can actually elucidate the casual relationship between police brutality and African-Americans, the reason why many still deny white privilege when it comes to rape and other atrocious crimes.
I want to borrow a great Facebook status written by my friend, Manny Osunlana. He recanted that if all lives matter, which they should, then black lives should also matter, but the current status quo is not telling of that normativity.
This weekend has through and through legitimized the sub-section of America that’s constantly under plague: The Black America. When the Preamble of the United States’ Constitution asks for the government to “establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility,” that sentiment should apply to everyone, black and white, immigrants and non-immigrants.
The United States is on the cusp of a new civil rights movement. Unlike the movement of the 1960s, however, the new fight for social justice starts online, an interconnected platform of citizen democracy.
Educate, proliferate, and enact. The death of our fellow brothers should not go unnoticed.