[Rewind to Long Branch, New Jersey, July 2016
Set Scene: A cold Fourth of July night. Beach blankets and fold-out chairs set throughout the sandy coast. Everyone huddles for warmth. Bright colors light up the night sky and the speaker radio blasts Katy Perry's voice: "Ignite the light and let it shine."
Words that foreshadow the gloomy days to come after celebrating a "freedom" in America that does not exist.]
As a millennial obsessed with electronic devices and computer screens,
current events do not come from today's newspaper. It is seen and read through news and social media applications and headlines written in 140 characters.
While scrolling down my Twitter feed on Wednesday morning, there were less hyperbolic clickbaits about How To Wear The Same Skirt Ten Times or How Tea Can Make You Skinny but rather filled with compelling news hyperlinks after hyperlinks, hashtags after hashtags of a man's name and various video footages attached. I, for one, was compelled to search the man's name and ask why in the world has his name been reduced to yet another hashtag in the Black Lives Matter movement?
After watching the videos that have gone viral of Alton Sterling's cold-blooded murder, I was left feeling emotional, immensely fearful and demoralized.
*Is this what humanity is becoming?* *What does our future hold?*
*This is wrong and everyone should be affected by this!!!!!*
As a content creator, I feel that every single one of us should use all of our
platforms [big or small, aesthetically pleasing or not] to voice our opinions about social injustice in not only America, but the world, especially for those who are voiceless, and for those who are not familiar. Desmond Tutu's quote has been all over social media that reads: "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
Perhaps, people have not come up with the right words to express their thoughts and feelings. It took me up until this post to express myself and share my reaction. But I hope that those who are still quiet will soon speak up.
Silence does not necessarily mean neutrality but if people stay silent because their rhetoric is being "numb" to the tragic and violent occurrences in the black community, then that's where silence is as bad as the injustice that's happening. I don't think we should ever be desensitized to tragedies that happen because if we start to normalize these incidents then that means acts of violence are accepted in everyday life and it never should.
As someone who mostly grew up in the suburbs and isn't as political as she should be, I know I cannot appropriately respond or completely relate but I don't need to be black to be outraged by it all. I can acknowledge how disheartening and terrible this all is.
All I know is that I care and I feel deeply.
Photography by Jason Payas.