A blackout in the name of #BlackLivesMatter on the second anniversary of #TrayvonMartin’s senseless racist hate-crime murder is planned for tomorrow June 13th for an entire week away from Facebook. But could it also be a way to divide and isolate the large network of connected people who are/care about Black lives, #BlackLivesMatter, and whose connection, consciousness of it, and simultaneity make a national movement?
The idea is Black people temporarily leaving Facebook en masse makes an impact on Facebook corporate advertisers with the sudden, collectively large cessation of ad viewership and revenue by African-Americans and allies. Did Facebook itself, Zuck and co., jump in with the #BLM banner on the building to get on the movement’s good side just in time? Not necessarily, but Zuck could have fired the racist employee. Could the Blackout cancel some of the power of the initiative that began on and in some ways relies on the social network, as do many collective conscious awakenings or improvements or movements? The point is to become involved IRL and connect in your/our own communities in face-to-face, physical, local or immediate presence. It is a way to counter the passivity of #Facebookactivism or #clicktivism of the #slacktivist.
Yet Alicia Garza and the #BlackLivesMatters founders used this social media to make the movement, to make change in their local communities and in national community, by getting people involved. Facebook is a tool for these achievements; online communication and connection has made possible or helped to make possible the power of individual connection, numbers, and solidarity since the early days of the internet for people who could access the internet, which has become more accessible–and actually accessed–even for disenfranchised people, though always less so than those better off socioeconomically, which of course means racially, by gender, cissex, ability, et al. So an #FBBlackout also allows people to put aside the digital divide.
Organizer Yefthak Dahn explains: Because Facebook Live was used for the first time in viral, immediate knowledge by the viewing of Diamond “Lavish” Reynold’s filming of fiance #PhilandoCastile getting shot by a white police officer at a short traffic pull over, Facebook and the police and possibly higher government should not have allowed a “technical glitch” to remove the post, nor left it unexplained except for the contradictory and vague information that the video of #Philando may have been taken down by human error or by decision because of its many flags as a violent post. A blackout by Black people on/of Facebook by one of the richest and most powerful white men in the world demands a stronger position of inclusivity and support of Black people, especially in the face of this targeted fatal violence by leaders and the law that is one advocacy and allyship, since Facebook runs, and runs free, via advertisers. The cost is your information, privacy, exposure to brands and ads, networking and awareness according to Facebook and advertisers’ algorithms, and the value of your demographic and habits to marketers. The Blackout asks people to use other social media platforms.So get on Twitter; don’t sacrifice the momentum.
All people can show Facebook and the slew of companies and corporations advertising on it that #BlackLivesMatter and that we are all affected and are in community by joining. White allies should cause Hellman’s and Uggs and the CMAs to also become financially affected; that might help make a difference in the systemically racist ways our (corporatist) country is run. Make sure you have an alternative way to find out what is happening at protests around the country. Be aware of the trackability or outside ease of access, besides the lag, of old-school networking communication. Be prepared to keep in contact, make contact more often, including in old-school ways of phone trees, and flash texting, while you are not part of the stream of information and network connecting that you are used to.
#FBBlackout also asks people to experience each other without screen mediation. Allies, especially white people, have a distinct responsibility to get in proximity to People of Color and specifically Black people as welcome and the problems people are facing to work on the racial disparity and end its violence, to work with people and community groups and efforts, to act in them for change in person, in concert, in community with Black people and #BlackLivesMatter.
What is your local criminal justice reform committee doing? Proximity to and in-person work is necessary above all to stop systemic violence by holding people in the systems of power accountable and racially violent individuals accountable, including those who are upholding it (not just the physically murderous), examining yourself according to the minority voice, then very specifically putting into practice in your daily life changes to dismantle hegemonic white privilege, and by creating events and specifically, locally changing the status quo on opportunity and recognition in your community, in what you are good at and reaching to assist in new realms or work on the problems, where you are welcome, also even in spaces with just white people, and according to the minority voice, according to Black people personally affected.
So please only #FBBlackout to do these actions in person. Please stay networked, and only #FBBlackout if you already have your plans and solidarity down pat against racist pat-downs and stop-and-frisks of Black people, especially that become more violent and fatal, if you can find strength and feel assured personally, spiritually, politically by the knowledge beforehand that around the country people are gathering to make change. if people act, together, without Facebook during all of B/blackout time. Maintain your energy and action together, do not be dispelled and dispersed by lack of connection or communication on the social media site we all use and have relied on. #FBBlackout if you can be stronger without the tool than with it.