I am a black man. I frequently wear hoodies, and enjoy candy from time to time. But I am NOT Treyvon Martin, and neither are you.
The unprovoked murder of 17-year-old Treyvon Martin is nothing short of a tragedy. The blatant racial stereotypes that were at the base of his killing have been a part of our society for decades. There is no justification for the taking of his life, and I am not here to write about what we need to do in order to prevent future occurrences. I am writing about a majority of the people who claim to be “outraged” by this tragedy.
The Internet is probably one of the greatest inventions in the history of man. A wealth of knowledge is available at your fingertips, and you can get it in a matter of seconds. The Internet can be used to educate, inform, and assist in a number of different forums. When it comes to tragedies like the Treyvon Martin murder, however, the Internet can be a tool of negativity.
“If you don’t stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.”
It seems that whenever there is something tragic that occurs, people run to the Internet in order to voice their displeasure, and try to rally others behind a campaign. And while, in the beginning, these attempts seem to be genuine, after a couple of weeks (or when a new tragedy occurs), the original tragedy is all but forgotten. In the first quarter of 2012, we have seen two major Internet sensations pop up, speaking out against an injustice: “STOP KONY 2012”, and “I AM TREYVON MARTIN”.
In early March, a video was released speaking about how a man named Joseph Kony was recruiting young children into his guerrilla army, and using them as soldiers. The 30-minute video set the Internet on fire; overnight, there were Facebook posts and Twitter petitions to “Stop Kony”. I wasn’t educated on the history of this campaign, so I asked a friend who posted a “Stop Kony” poster on their Facebook page what exactly it was. Their response? “I’m not quite sure, but I keep hearing a lot about it, so it must be something bad.”
Less than a month later, Treyvon Martin was murdered. Once the story came out, there were a number of people speaking out about it on Twitter. The outrage was justified. The cry for justice was loud and clear. Then something happened. A comment was made by a prominent person in the media that Treyvon’s hoodie added to the fear that his killer had, and that the hoodie should be monitored in the black and Hispanic communities, because it facilitates the image of a violent person. All of a sudden, people started posting pictures of themselves wearing hoodies, and holding signs that said “I Am Treyvon Martin”. The message was clear: “We will not stand for injustice and ignorance.”
I had no problem with any of the things noted above. What I have a problem with, is the small percentage of people of bastardize the cause, and try to pretend that they are apart of the group trying to find a solution, when they don’t even know the problem. I asked someone what was the significance of the hoodie, knowing that it was in response to the comments made by Geraldo Rivera. This person said that it was a way for people to mourn: but on a hoodie, and point your head to the ground, as if you were mourning the loss of a loved one.
Did I miss something??
When I was told that, I was angry. I wasn’t angry for their ignorance; like Ron White says, “You can’t fix stupid”. I was angry at the Internet. The Internet is the reason why a true grass roots movement can no longer prosper. It’s no longer about educating yourself to the problems and misdeeds of the world; now, its about supporting the latest trend. Since the Treyvon Martin murder, the outcry for “Stop Kony” has become little more than a whimper. But why? Were we able to stop his inhumane actions with our numerous Twitter and Facebook posts? Did our YouTube videos pleading to bring Joseph Kony to justice finally reach the right set of eyes, and he was stopped? No. Something else happened to take our attention away from that cause. And what happens six months from now, when another death, or another injustice occurs, or when the “I Am Treyvon Martin” movement simply loses its initial steam? How many people who are so adamant about protesting now will still be championing the cause then?
The crimes of Joseph Kony and the murder of Treyvon Martin (as well as many other lesser known crimes against humanity) deserve more than just 15 minutes of fame. These are the types of issues that we as a people should be fighting to eradicate, and not fighting to see who could come up with the cleverest avatar to post to our social media networks. The Internet allows a vast majority of us to have short attention spans, and it also allows us to push issues to the backburner when we see a new, hotter trend approaching. While something like that may work for clothing and electronics, it shouldn’t be acceptable when it comes to lives being lost and families being torn apart.
No, I am not Treyvon Martin; I’m just a person who hopes that those who claim to feel so passionate about the wrongdoing in the world are the same people who will be there fighting for the cause when no one else is. Otherwise, you’re just sheep being lead to the slaughter. Champion something you believe in and support 100%, otherwise don’t claim to want change.