As the fourth of July holiday week came to a close, we were unfortunately gifted with the latest round of unjust police shootings. It’s no longer news when we hear about another unarmed black man being murdered by a police officer.In fact, it happens so often that we fall into a cyclical pattern each time we hear of a new victim. Hashtags, outrage,protests,silence,repeat. Despite the steps that are taken to incite change and reform, we are never given the results we desire, thus continuing on the pattern we are forced to relive every few months or so. However, this time, things feel different. Something about these events and the public’s reaction has sparked something that we, or at least I,haven’t seen before. It’s exciting and almost indescribable.
Specifically, the amount of celebrities and public figures who have been utilizing their platforms to speak out has been amazing. As people who are constantly in the public eye and with millions of fans and followers on social media, they already have an advantage that the average person does not. Their messages have the possibility to reach millions, to get a conversation started whether it be negative or positive. It’s not surprising when publications like The New York Times or The Washington Post report on these situations. However, when publications like Teen Vogue and Man Repeller or fashion editors like Eva Chen speak out, it is not only surprising but greatly appreciated.Especially when the fashion industry is often criticized for the race issues that have persisted for decades within their community. Newly appointed editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, Elaine Welteroth, is a perfect example of the positives that arise when a person of color is put into a position of power and allowed a larger platform.
Almost every sect of mass media has been put into the spotlight and forced to confront their race issues. Film being perhaps being the most popular. After this year’s Oscars fiasco, the academy has already taken steps to correct its mistakes by inviting hundreds of new members to join, which hopefully will aid in a more diverse nominee pool next year. The fashion industry is often called out on its exploitation of black culture and for its serious lack of diversity. And while we may have to wait a few more years to witness a serious change within the community, it is still vitally important for people who have a platform to use it in a functional, inclusive manner.
Showing appreciation to those who have chosen to correctly utilize their platform is great, but a part of me wishes we did not have to do so. Meaning, it would be even better if celebrities always used their voices to aid in situations like these and if a smaller amount of people chose to stay neutral when it is clear that staying neutral is just a way to protect your image. Speaking up about obvious injustice shouldn’t be something that’s revolutionary, and I hope that at some point in the future it no longer is. That we get to a point where we notice something is wrong and do not hesitate to say so, without the fear of backlash.
Of course, while it is great when public figures step up, we are also responsible for doing so. A part of why I love my generation so much is that, for the most part, we are not afraid to do so. Social media is both a gift and a curse here because while it provides us with an opportunity to speak with people around the world about issues that we face everyday, it also gives anyone the chance to speak about whatever they want. And some people should not have that privilege. Nevertheless, whether you are a celebrity or not, your voice is still important.
Starting a conversation is the best way to begin taking steps to accomplish the goal of equality, to incite change. And when you have a million people willing to listen to you, it makes having the conversation a hell of a lot easier.