A couple weeks ago my social media networks were flooded with the inaccurate, psychotic produced, Kony 2012 video. Friends, and famous people alike, pleaded with their friends and networks to please take 30 minutes to watch the video, that we must do something.
These people, at least the ones in my network, did so from the comfort of their own homes thousands of miles away on a completely different continent. By posting the video they were able to pat themselves on the back that they were making a difference by raising awareness.
In the past week the national news media began to talk about Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old who was gunned down in Florida because he looked threatening. He was “armed” with a bag of Skittles and an Arizona Iced-Tea. His killer is free and the police “investigation” seems to be either heavily botched or just completely covered up.
I’ve been spreading the news pretty hard since the weekend, and figured as the case become more prominent in the national news media people in my social media networks would follow suit, especially those who took such a stand in the Kony 2012 video.
I was wrong.
Other than one like-minded individual on Facebook, not one of my friends (or acquaintances, whatever) has posted anything about Trayvon. Only two people (including the like-minded individual mentioned previously) have commented on my litany of posts. I know of over two dozen of my almost 500 Facebook friends who posted the Kony 2012 video (some of them did so repeatedly). Yet none of them have posted about Trayvon, which begs the question, why?
The answer isn’t pretty. The Kony 2012 video focused on production value. Flashy graphics, a good looking guy telling a compelling story to his cute kid. Things Americans like. More than that, while the story was about black children in Uganda, the main characters of the video were white. Had it been a black man talking to his son throughout the movie would it have been as popular? I can’t answer that, but I do think it is an interesting question, and I venture to guess unless it was Jay-Z talking to Blue Ivy the answer would be no.
Even more than flashy production value and a good looking family, Kony 2012 focused on an issue thousands of miles away from us (“us” meaning those in the United States). We can sleep at night knowing those sorts of atrocities aren’t happening in America. We can write a check to Invisible Children, pass the video along and feel like we’re doing our part without getting our hands dirty. We don’t have to worry about bad things happening to people here. This is America.
When the Trayvon Martin case became public, a whole bag of worms opened. It showed that race is absolutely still an issue here, that any wack job who fancies himself a cop can carry a gun and use it if he wants (in Florida and at least a dozen other states), that our criminal justice system is horribly fucked. The list can go on and on.
People in America don’t want to think like that. Bad things don’t happen here. So instead of being outraged and wanting change, they ignore it. Because if you ignore it, it will go away.
I realize I’m much more active in terms of current events and such, but to see people so quiet on this issue (something those in the media have picked up on as well) is disgusting and troubling. I guarantee you if George Zimmerman (the shooter, and not even alleged shooter, he admitted to killing Trayvon) were black and Trayvon Martin were white and Zimmerman were free nearly a month after the murder, there would be a lot more outrage out there. But then again, that would never happen. Hell, if Trayvon hadn’t been tragically gunned down I bet he would’ve been arrested just based on Zimmerman’s word.
I won’t stop though. Posting articles about the issue might be a small thing to do, but I want everyone I know to know the details of this case. I want them to hate this law in Florida that Zimmerman is hiding behind, knowing that even regardless of race, if they were viewed as a threat that night they could have been killed.
I realize there are atrocities happening all over the world, but focusing on those does not give us an excuse to ignore the atrocities happening in our own backyard.