Social Media's Impact on #MeToo and #Black Lives Matter

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Social Media's Impact on #MeToo and #Black Lives Matter

Nov 13, 2020

The year of 2020 has been a long year thus far. With the legend Kobe Bryant passing away at the beginning, to COVID-19 spreading worldwide, the continuation of the MeToo movement, and black lives matter being all over the news as well as social media. During these trying times, a lot has been brought to light through the power of social media. One issue that we, the black community, have known for far too long is the injustice against us. Social media has been able to spread the news of injustices that occur to the black community, as well as women who’ve been sexually harassed.

The MeToo movement really took off in 2017 as many high-profile celebrities who had been sexually harassed, posted on social media. Millions of people started using this hashtag on social media, spreading to countries outside of the United States. This brought to light the number of women who have been sexually harassed. Friends of mine have been sexually harassed, and the MeToo movement gave them the courage to speak out. I have friends who have told me they know more people who have been sexually harassed to those who haven’t. This movement has shown how common sexual harassment occurs.

On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was chased down by three white men, gunned down and murdered in the middle of the street while jogging. The incident was reported to the police and despite the murder being caught on video by one of the perpetrators, no arrests were made. In the early months of May, the same video taken by one of the perpetrators began to circle around social and would soon go viral. With the massive amount of attention and pressure from the public, the police eventually arrested the men involved in the murder. After more than two months after the murder, the men involved were not arrested. It took the power of social media to bring them to justice. What happened if the video wasn’t posted to social media? Would they have eventually been arrested? What happened if the perpetrators didn’t take a video? Would the men have been arrested or would it have been another false story of a black man being accused of something false? I believe they were only arrested because the video went viral on social media.

On May 25th, George Floyd was stopped for allegedly buying cigarettes with counterfeit currency. After complying with the police, Floyd somehow ended up on the ground with a knee on his neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. Pleading for his life with three other police officers allowing this to happen. This incident was all captured on camera and quickly went viral on social media. The video was hard to watch as you hear a grown man begging for his life, calling out to his mother, and seeing the lack of empathy in the officer’s face. This re-sparked the Black Lives Matter movement with authority. It wasn’t long after the incident that the officers involved were fired and ultimately arrested. But again I ask the question, what happens if there is no video to capture the murder? If you’re tired of seeing videos of police brutality happening to the black community on social media, how many instances do you think happened that were not recorded?

Social media has helped bring light to the injustices that happen to the black community. Being black, coming from a family of law enforcement, and having law enforcement friends, I believe I have a unique point of view. I try to see both sides and understand people’s perspective. For some reason people are picking sides for what’s going on in the country. Either you’re with Black Lives Matter or you’re with law enforcement, and that shouldn’t be the case at all. It’s obvious that there is a problem between law enforcement and the black community, as you can easily find the names of several black people who’ve been killed at the hands of law enforcement and see little to no repercussions against the officers involved. As unacceptable as these police brutality cases are, I believe there is a silver lining. Similar to how the killing of Emmett Till brought attention to the persecution of black people, and became a driving factor in the civil rights movement. This has brought people to educate themselves and realize what’s occurring and help bring change. Many non-black friends reached out to me and asked about life growing up and my perspective of things. This has brought me hope, as we need other races to come together and help bring change.

Manny Jefferson, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s media law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question: How has social media impacted the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements? The class covers copyright and social media. Manny is a Advertising major.

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