The following is a non-scientific collection of data concerning some of my social media posts:
Status update about eating Girl Scout cookies: 86 likes
Profile picture of me with my dog: 79 likes
Post about my upcoming book: 85 likes
Post about anything having to do with my wedding: 109 likes
Photoshopped picture of me looking like Jesus: 60 likes
Post about mass incarceration: 4 likes
Post about white people of affluence living in segregated communities: 0 likes
Quote about Christians doing justice: 3 likes
Article about Walter Scott being murdered: 5 retweets
Social media can be used in countless ways- pictures of cats doing hilarious things, viral posts questioning the color of a dress, saying ‘farewell’ to prominent preachers, and worldwide events.
Lately, though, I have found it interesting what posts of mine get the most traffic, likes, comments, or shares. Now, perhaps the social media algorithm makes it so certain posts aren’t seen by all my friends/followers/readers. But according to my incredibly advanced and thorough research above, it seems that certain posts, having to do with race, mass incarceration, racial biases, or white privilege, draw very little traffic.
Perhaps people simply find such topics hard to ‘like.’ It’s true these posts aren’t that ‘likeable.’
I mean, should we really be ‘liking’ the fact that there are more African-Americans in prison today than there were slaves? Should we really be giving a ‘thumbs up’ to the fact that in the last 40 years there has been a 700% in incarcerations? Should we really ‘favorite’ the videos of police officers shooting another African-American? Should we really be happy that Sunday mornings are still the most segregated hour in our nation? Can I simply ignore the fact that because I am a heterosexual Caucasian male I receive benefits and privileges that my brothers and sisters of color do not receive?
I’m not saying our refusal to ‘like’ such a post is bad, but I do think that if we ignore the realities often found within these posts, our silence continues to do harm. It’s one thing not to ‘like;’ it’s another thing to ignore.
A friend who works for Restore NYC, an anti-trafficking organization, recently said, “When we do nothing, nothing changes.” Now, I don’t think ‘liking’ or ‘sharing’ a post will ultimately lead to change (doing justice is not pressing the ‘like’ or ‘share’ button), but I would hope that doing so would raise awareness, shine light on darkness and injustice, and perhaps get a perspective to change or adapt.
Regardless of likes or shares, we cannot stay silent on these topics. The Gospel compels us to speak boldly against injustice, racism, and anything that divides. We have been given a ministry of reconciliation, where there are no longer any barriers.
We may not ‘like’ these things, but we must acknowledge them, respond to them, and commit to reconciliation and justice. As Cornel West says, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” Christ’s love compels us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
Here are a few resources that I can’t stop talking about:
Michelle Alexander’s TheNew Jim Crow
Bryan Stevenson’s JustMercy
Jeffrey Dowsett’s What RidingMy Bike has Taught me about White Privilege
John Legend’s movement to end mass incarceration
Michael Omni’s RacialFormation in the United States
Finally, if you want to move from awareness to action, check out the following:ACLU Action