Young African American activist woman asking for change holding banner with message stressed with hand on head, shocked with shame and surprise face, angry and frustrated. ; close up of woman’s cupped hands showing euro coins
Young African American activist woman asking for change holding banner with message stressed with hand on head, shocked with shame and surprise face, angry and frustrated. ; close up of woman’s cupped hands showing euro coins
Photo: Shutterstock

Unrest—it’s a word I’ve read and heard used to describe the emotional state of protestors around the country right now. To the people who are sitting in their homes self-isolating with a sense of helplessness on how to support, I’d wager that word would fit in describing that situation, as well.

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While we’ve been at home, there’s been ample discussion on just how much more “time” we have to do things. Famous folks have had much more time to use their platform to speak their piece (such as John Boyega, Janelle Monáe, Chance The Rapper and more), and their audiences have had just as much time to engage with them. Unfortunately, this time has opened up the space to reflect on the fact that not everyone’s voice is necessary to move the needle forward.

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Look, I know there is a pressure to say something. As you navigate social media and maintain any type of significant platform, you’re bound to be called out if you remain in the safety of silence. It may have taken a long time for me to get there, but I typically implement an initial strategy of silence when it comes to topics I know damn well I don’t have the range to speak on. Instead, I choose to listen and read (and later amplify) others who are much more equipped to do so. If my only two options are “spout this dumb and dangerous thing on my platform” and “silence,” it’s probably best to choose silence until I gain some adequate knowledge on the matter. I’ll call it, the #ALongWalkChallenge.

Jill Scott in “A Long Walk” music video
Jill Scott in “A Long Walk” music video
Screenshot: Tenor

Luckily, those aren’t the only options. Using your platform doesn’t mean leaning into performative activism for the sake of it; there are certainly ways to get creative. Over the week, there have been some notable “options.”

Talk That Talk

Cardi B has gotten a lot of attention for not only being outspoken but serving as the approachable speakerbox for the voiceless. The rapper recently spoke out on how she fully understands and supports the recent uprising as it is an action of a frustrated and fed-up people who have already tried “peaceful protests” to no productive end.

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“I’ve been doing police brutality videos ever since my teeth been fucked up and the only thing that’s changed has been my fucking teeth,” Cardi exclaimed on social media.

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Open Your Purse

In the past day or so, I noticed a thread of celebrities and people of influence sharing a link to the Minnesota Freedom Fund to support the protestors with bail/bond funding and other resources. One person would post that they donated a particular amount of money then ask someone to match it. Then their follower would see the tweet, click the link to donate the same among and quote-tweet the results on their own timeline requesting the same of their followers, and so on.

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While philanthropy via charitable donations could be argued as a performative tax write-off, money is certainly a privilege not afforded to most of the country (notably those most affected by police brutality), so if you have that privilege, by all means, share that wealth in order to aid in one less disenfranchised person trapped in the awful prison system.

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What Next?

“Let’s not react to these things in a vacuum. Let’s be able to put them in a larger historical context, take action, call them out, so that you can be productive within these moments,” Ava DuVernay told Gayle King in a recent interview with CBS This Morning.

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On Thursday, Ava’s multi-media platform ARRAY announced the launch of ARRAY 101, “a new online education initiative delivering dynamic social impact learning guides for the company’s films and television series.” To kick things off, they’re partnering with Participant Media to debut the When They See Us Learning Companion in honor of DuVernay’s critically acclaimed series on the Central Park Five (now known as The Exonerated Five), When They See Us.

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These are merely examples and not a comprehensive list on how to contribute, but I do know one thing; we are currently witnessing a revolution in motion and it won’t be as seamless as posting a “woke” hashtag.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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