Family, Social Media and Caring about Social Justice - Public Goods Blog Family, Social Media and Caring about Social Justice - Public Goods Blog

Family, Social Media and Caring about Social Justice

  • Numerous posts from white people sharing about how they are finally taking a stand against racism
  • Shared posts from various companies using gentle words to make their stand against racial injustice

black man and black woman with a smartphone attending a rally

  • Picture after picture after picture of George Flloyd and Breonna Taylor
  • A meme that said “White Lives Matter too, bet you won’t be brave enough to share this”
  • A gross pushback on Black Lives Matter posts with the refrain All Lives Matter
  • Intense calls to action from multiple people to make a stand for Black Lives Matter
  • Aggressive comments on posts I shared about defunding/demilitarizing the police

The common denominator is that they are all reasons why I took a break from social media (especially Facebook).

Some of these actions other people are taking are good and even fairly neutral. But, as a multiracial Black woman who deals with generalized anxiety disorder and depression, some days it’s all too much.

The hardest thing was that the most negative reactions — the aggressive comments, the White Lives Matter post and the All Lives Matter pushback — were all from family members. Much like me, my family encompasses many races and a variety of ideologies. I am Black, White and Mexican, and there are no stereotypes in my family. We fall across a spectrum, especially around faith and politics. Sometimes family can fit into that “too much.”

I feel emotions viscerally, deep in my body. In times of joy I have been known to be bouncing with energy. When I’m sad or anxious, I feel it in my stomach and have been legitimately sick over it. My feelings are no joke, and when my depression or anxiety are heightened, I am deeply aware of everything I am going through.

Now when I say I’m off social media, please don’t think I’m unaware. I have a number of news sources and newsletters I check through regularly. I am keeping myself informed. I just don’t need to keep myself informed through the lens of my All Lives Matter cousin. I also don’t need to see every White person’s come-to-justice moment. It’s necessary and valid and I want every person to be aware of the ways they’ve upheld White supremacist society including myself.

At this point in the revolution I have not personally been at any protests or marches, but I’m proud of my friends and family members who shared their experiences. Right now I’m donating money, signing petitions, reaching out to my lawmakers, creating and writing, things I’ve been doing for years.

Writing is always what I come back to in times of change and uncertainty. As my body tells me daily that this change in the air is overwhelming, I welcome it also with joy. I am reluctant and anxious, but joyful nonetheless.

Sometimes I remind myself, as a Black woman, that my only true action to take is to survive. Nonetheless, sometimes I feel, as a multiracial woman — especially a partially White lighter skinned Black, Mexican woman — that I have to use my privilege to the height of its ability. That responsibility means I can’t back down when I share an article about demilitarizing the police, and some non-Black family members push back. I have to show them my resources, the brilliant minds who have already thought this through long before me. Remind them that just because they feel safe in their bodies with the police doesn’t mean they should and doesn’t mean it’s true for most of us when push comes to shove, literally.

But I also want to be here long after this fight is over, and I hope we actually reach an over. When all the statues will be torn down, where instead of protesting, officers will be arrested, tried, and sent to jail after lynching in the streets.

To be there in the “over” means I need to keep my mental health intact. It means unfollowing and sometimes unfriending family who post harmful comments rather than fighting it every single time. It’s not backing down about Black Lives Matter, but also not defending my reasoning over and over again. It’s knowing that I would give anything for justice for Breonna Taylor, but maybe a donation, a phone call, a letter, and a call to action after writing a tribute poem are enough for that day. It’s waking up and reading a few news pieces and then not checking the news again that day. It’s finding joy in my day. It’s going to virtual therapy. It’s crying. It’s talking to my Black friends about things not related at all to the movement. It’s being carefree for a moment.

I wake up every day Black, White and Mexican. My hair and my skin give you clues about who I am.

Every day I pray that this action, this poem, this cry will really be enough. I wonder if all that we’re doing will demand enough justice. I wonder when we will actually create a world that shows that All Lives Matter, rather than a pushback to a necessary movement.

I hope in the end my family will be with me on the right side of history. I hope we’ll all see the goodness of Black Lives Matter as a saying and a movement, and we’ll all be free to breathe.

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