5 Ways To Respond To Ignorance About The Baltimore Riots On Social Media

Illustration by Sarah C Wintner

Illustration by Sarah C Wintner

 

Last night, someone on Tumblr left me an anonymous message that was super charming: “Die nigger.

This was undoubtably in response to posts I made on Tumblr moments prior in which I expressed my disgust with the way some people on social media were responding to the Baltimore Riots. As with Ferguson, all of this chaos erupted from police brutality against an unarmed black man. In this case, 25-year-old Freddie Gray suffered from spinal injuries he sustained while in police custody on April 12. He was denied medical attention until he fell into a coma. By April 19, he was dead. Why the Baltimore Police Department arrested him remains a mystery. No, seriously, we still have no idea why he was detained in the first place. Court documents claim that the arresting officer sought to charge Gray with carrying a switchblade, which isn’t a crime.

Anyone with common sense would find this fishy, but among a black community that has dealt with systematic violence at the hands of the local police? The fury was real. So the community took to the streets, peacefully protesting for days and demanding answers. But last night, tensions rose and violence broke out. Some call it a riot, others are calling it an uprising, but one thing is certain: Too many unarmed black people have died at the hand of the police, especially as of late. This is ridiculous, and expecting people to just take it quietly is insulting and inhuman.

Of course, when it comes to stories like this, social media becomes a total hellhole. Sure, if you follow the right people, you’ll see support for protesters and calls for answers in Freddie Gray’s death. But more than likely, you’ll also be inundated with a ton of hate ignorance, especially of the racially charged variety. Sound familiar? If this is exactly what you’re dealing with and you don’t know what to do, here are five options for you. Get ready to mic drop:

mic drop jessica williams

 

1) When they say that race has nothing to do with this, drop some knowledge on them.

 

Fact: Black people are disproportionately brutalized by police than other ethnic groups. Couple this with the fact that black people are believed to be inherently violent…voila! You’ve got the perfect recipe for racial profiling and violence against black people at the hands of the police. Honestly, this just doesn’t seem happen to white people as often. Trust, if it did, we’d hear about it.

Race makes people uncomfortable, but denying the fact that we live in a racist society does more harm than good.

 

 

 

2) When they ask what MLK would do, tell them what MLK actually said about riots.

You wouldn’t believe how many people have asked “What would MLK do?” in response to the riots. Apparently people who say this don’t really know much about MLK beyond the fact that he was a civil rights leader who preached non-violence. How do I know that? Because if they actually knew anything about MLK, they’d know that he already has an opinion on riots: “A riot is the language of the unheard.” Here’s the full quote:

mlk on riots

Facebook

Bloop, bloop, bloop.

 

3) Ask the haters to reflect on how the media reacts to white people who riot.

Do we even want to get into the masses of (largely) white men who start riots? How many times does the media make a big deal out of them? Why aren’t white people characterized as ruthless thugs for burning cars and destroying property after their team loses? Oh, right, because of racist double standards. Cool!


4) When people go on and on about looters, ask them what is really more important.

So many people go on and on about damaged property. Yeah, I get it, damaged property sucks. But one CVS that burned down in the riots does not trump the fact that a man lost his life at the hands of the police. Why do people care more about broken windows and stolen soda than a man’s broken spine? Ask your annoying friend on Twitter that question! Also, consider this old quote about looting from literary icon and activist James Baldwin:

People claim to be worried that these people are destroying their neighborhoods; their tone is always full of such faux concern! How many of the people saying this would have written off these neighborhoods as nothing more than crime ridden ghettos before the riots? Hmm…

 

5) Delete ’em and move on with your life.

girlbye

Sometimes you have to cut people out of your life for your own sanity. Your social media life works the same way. If that dude from your biology class just can’t understand why people are a little tired of police brutality, delete him. If that girl you used to be friends with thinks that everyone protesting is a thug, delete her. If your aunt is being absolutely insufferable…well, deleting her might start some drama, but making her invisible on your FB feed for a while isn’t a bad idea.

 

How do you feel about the situation in Baltimore? Have you gotten into any debates about it? Tell us in the comments!

You can follow the author, Ashley Reese, on Twitter or Instagram. Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite!

 

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  • Moni

    I’m very angry about the lack of answers about how Gray died. I do hope though the riots will stop, it is counter-productive. However, riots are how people who feels voiceless channel and voice their anger. I think it would be more effective to channel their anger into non-violent protest and civil disobedience as it has worked before in other campaigns.

    • Ashley Reese

      There have been a lot of non-violent protests but the media didn’t really focus on those ones. People only seem to pay attention when something is on fire!