thoughts on creating during a national crisis on systematic racism
Within days of publishing my last post, I've thought about taking it down because, while it sincerely expresses my own experience, it's tone-deaf to the social media discourse that has taken by storm the circles I'm part of: a demand for justice for George Floyd, who was murdered by police in the United States of America — less than a week ago.
In a week of sociopolitical turmoil, why did I publish something so tone-deaf?
The truth is, as an Asian-American, even as a brown daughter of immigrants, I have so much privilege.
When I wrote my last post, I hadn't been on social media for a while. Through my privilege, distance from social media & traveling was enough for me to forget what I was shaken to see in the news just days before — news that has, in the same time span, set my communities on fire (figuratively, literally).
Hours after publishing, I logged onto social media & realized I had wrapped myself in a bubble. As an artist, how can I express a commitment to serve communities when I don't use my platform to express solidarity against the crisis of racism that's embedded in my city, in the social fabric I create within, in the country whose histories of injustice I breathe?
So I edited the post. I added links, fliers, images — but then deleted some of them, confused as to how to balance a post that has nothing to do with condemning police brutality & racism, with the appropriate amount of sociopolitical awareness.
Is it possible? Or do I just delete the post? Until things "cool down" on social media, should I refrain from posting anything unrelated to this crisis?
But that isn't the point of this movement. It's not about conforming to mainstream displays of activism during a week-long social media craze. It's about seeking lasting change to a profoundly deep sociocultural wound that's taking human lives — leaving families & communities broken with pain, anger, & sorrow.
Does that mean that from now on, I can only post what seeks to dismantle racism?
In the end, I have to remember that social media is a performance. It's a performance that many of my peers are using to realize social change, but a performance nonetheless.
In the rage infused with this crisis (a rage I believe is righteous), we become so quick to judge one another:
What's the right way to perform activism on social media? Who's saying the right thing? Who's sharing the right links? Who's staying silent & thus violently perpetuating anti-blackness? Who's callously posting content that has nothing to do with Black Lives Matter?
I can't dismiss these questions. But somehow, I want to strive for an activism that comes from a different kind of strength. Not an endless round of finger-pointing. Is there room for love in this discourse? Is there room for love amidst discourage, pain, anger, rage?
In other words — as we perform the necessary work of challenging one another to create change, can we shift our tone from inciting shame, towards one of compassion & profound respect for all people?
Recalling that I'm approaching this topic from a place of privilege, I want to believe it's possible. Systematic change an come from a place of love. I'm a Christian, after all (to whom Christianity means a religion predicated upon a God of love, mercy, & justice as the source of life & healing).
At the same time, far from condemning rioters (who are protesting against racism), my heart aches with them. It's easy for me to talk about love. I'm not a woman whose race makes me constantly fear for my life & the lives of my loved ones in this country.
So in the end, this post remains a question. And my previous post remains undeleted — the timing of its existence is an expression of my privilege, my ignorance, a misstep.
I don't know when I'll decide it's appropriate to continue posting content that isn't directly related to combatting racism. But whenever that happens, I won't forget that so many people don't have the privilege of forgetting this movement. Because our country has repeatedly failed to convince them of their own safety.
Regardless of how long this social media craze lasts, let's work towards systematic change with love — by educating ourselves to work towards sociopolitical justice. By seeking out, listening to, & amplifying the voices of those who have been oppressed. By aggressively paying attention to the ways our minds seek comfort in the status quo, and then redirecting them. By supporting Black businesses, donating to organizations for social change. And if you're Christian like me, by asking God for the grace to treat each human being with profound reverence, and to undo racism however we can, wherever we find it.