‘Racism has always existed, but now is just being recorded’, said Will Smith in an interview when asked about the video of George Floyd’s murder. Who would have thought that a brief clip of injustice would shake the entire world and spark a domino effect of social consciousness. It seems like nowadays, no one’s public displays of racism are immune to the power of the Internet. Police officers, government officials, high executives and even celebrities are being fired or jailed for their racist actions; something that would have been unimaginable a decade ago…especially if you were white.
As a result of such viral video, and many others dating back to Trayvon Martin’s death; the legitimacy of the legal system and police department have suffered tremendously here in the United States. Many people of color don’t trust the institutions that hold the system in place anymore, and they probably won’t do so again until there is tangible progress towards racial unity.
However, Social Media may well be that light of hope across the horizon that we’ve all been yearning for…
Amateur internet videos taken by the average Joe have been a driving force during this movement of self-awareness. My heart jumps with joy when I see retaliation towards racist tantrums. The most well-known have been the San Francisco CEO who called the police on the girl selling water bottles, and the New York lawyer who threaten to call ICE on the Latin workers for speaking Spanish in Midtown Manhattan. These recordings sparked a public outcry that ultimately annihilated the reputation of these two professionals. Their debacle also sends a strong message to the any other powerful individual out there, who might be used to enjoying impunity at all costs.
Lately, the Internet has proven to be a effective tool when galvanizing and mobilizing people against injustice. Simple reposts in places like Instagram have led to countless of protests and reforms to defund the police that have not been seen since the times of the Civil Rights movement.
At the end of the day, social media has allowed people to take justice into their own hands. Regardless of its downsides, it does give a sense of control and power to the powerless. It can reach the furthest corners of the world and give a fair share of karmic retribution to those who think that they are above the law. So, as long as this tool is used in a constructive way and keeps on giving transparency to contentious issues such as the racial divide, I foresee the U.S. moving into a promising path with the push of a simple click.