Paris, Beirut, and the Media
The past couple of weeks have been nothing short of a whirlwind. Many of us were struck with grief after news broke that a series of terrorist attacks took place in Paris, leaving over 100 people dead and countless injured. After facing several terrorist attacks in the United States in modern time, the feeling of sadness swept in with the sort of familiarity we wish we’ve never come to know. Sadly, we live in a time when terrorism has become the norm.
But no one knows that norm more than the brown people of the world who live in constant fear. From remote villages in Africa and the Middle East, the claps of gunshots and the base from explosives have become the soundtrack of many people’s lives. Yet we hear very little about these constant attacks in mainstream media. Tweets about such incidents are sparse. The average person’s social media avatar remains as usual. The world continues to move as though nothing happened. This is not news. Each time some place in the Western World is attacked and the media covers it with such intensity, journalists, activists, and everyday people alike remind us all of that fact. It becomes the window of opportunity to shine light on the voiceless.
Facebook was on the receiving end of much of this criticism surrounding this issue. The company was heavily criticized for activating it’s “Safety Check” feature so the people of Paris could notify friends and family that they were alive and well. It’s a feature that, until now, only became available in the event of natural disasters. How completely irresponsible of the company to do so just days after suicide bombers killed over 40 people in Beirut, Lebanon—also an act of terror. There was no safe button for the people of Beirut and with all the news surrounding Paris, it’s no wonder the people affected by the attack there feel forgotten. Facebook CEO and Founder, Mark Zuckerberg has since issued an apology.
So excuse me for seeing a slight measure of beauty in this situation. Those who continue to lift their voices in protest of such an oversight by not only Facebook, but by Western media, give me hope that humanity still exists within a world that weighs a person’s worth based on race, ethnicity, and geographic location (in that order).
To stand in solidarity is not only a demonstration of our freedom, but an amazing act of love and evidence that our strength as a community lies in our ability to come together.
Beauty and Pain on U.S. College Campuses
Black students at the University of Missouri finally saw some sort of victory after experiencing growing racial tension on their campus. The school’s President, Tim Wolfe stepped down after a series of protests arranged by black student groups.
Black students at Yale were also at the center of a racially charged backlash on campus, which caused many students of color to become distressed. Students rallied together to organize the school’s historic “March of Resilience.”
These were victories not just for the students of the campus, but for those who continue to stand against racial injustice. The sad news was that it was yet another reminder of how racism continues to affect the lives of young people of color throughout the country—from the ghettos to the suburbs to top educational institutions.
Yet, it didn’t take long for the beauty of solidarity to emerge as students from over 20 campuses across the U.S. stood in unity with the students of Mizzou and Yale. Issues of racial insensitivity at schools like Columbia, UCLA, and Brown University were aired out on a national scale.
To stand in solidarity is not only a demonstration of our freedom, but an amazing act of love and evidence that our strength as a community lies in our ability to come together. Through all the strife, it’s an important time to be a black student in America. Scholars at these 20-something universities are now a part of the kind of history that will have a deep impact on black students for generations to come.