Watch: T.I. Recites a Poem Arguing That Social Media Activism Is Not Enough to Advance Black Lives Matter

T.I. recites a poem about social activism during the 2015 Triumph Awards.
YouTube screenshot
T.I. recites a poem about social activism during the 2015 Triumph Awards.
YouTube screenshot

It's an argument that people make every now and then: that creating memes and catchy hashtags to protest the social injustices that black Americans face isn't enough. It's been a major point of contention between civil rights leaders of past and present: that the 1960s activists marched and lobbied politicians, while today's protesters are primarily on their laptops and smartphones, and that that kind of social media activism simply isn't enough to foster change.

During a recent taping of the 2015 Triumph Awards, rapper T.I. recited a poem arguing the social-media-activism-isn't-enough side; that our temporary successes on social media are creating this false sense of accomplishment. 

"United we stand/Because we created a hashtag for Sandra Bland," T.I. said, reciting a poem called "United We Stand." 


"Swimming with DMs, likes, comments/Not noticing how much it makes us slaves/Chained by a man-made device small enough to fit into the palm of our hand/I guess that's made it easy to swipe to the left and scroll to the next and forget about Sandra Bland," he continued. 

He even suggested that some protesters do it more for looks, fame and publicity, than for the actual cause: 

"United we stand, because we wore hoodies and T-shirts that read 'Black Lives Matter'/But quick, homie, take this split, gotta make sure all my followers see this fresh fit./Are we really about the movement?/Or more concerned with our follower count growing fatter?"

"Our society's issues are deeper than social media posts/There's a long list/And if you think solely making them a trending topic is going to solve them/Well, then, you're part of the problem," he continued. 


This argument always makes me remind folks about the slew of actual protests and marches that the #BlackLivesMatter groups have hosted and participated in ever since the movement kicked off a few years ago. Millennial activists aren't afraid to hit the pavement, hold legislators accountable and create real nonprofit groups to see their concerns through. But at the same time, I understand T.I.'s concerns about not wanting people to become complacent by merely casting their vote via social media instead of getting up to go vote at a voting booth, perhaps. Any effort to kick up dust about how we need to do more about the injustices working-class communities face is OK in my book, and that's why T.I. is my #MCM. 

Here's how T.I. ended the poem:

"We are Trayvon Martin. We are Jordan Davis. We are Eric Garner. We are Tamir Rice. We are Walter Scott. We are Eric Harris. We are Freddie Gray. We are Sandra Bland. United we stand. Thank you."


For more of black Twitter, check out The Chatterati on The Root and follow The Chatterati on Twitter.

Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.


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