It saddens me to say that I am growing weary of social media and especially Facebook. Facebook has reconnected me with friends, former students, and even family. However, Facebook is also a platform people use to express their feelings. Let me be clear. I've never expected all my FB friends to be in alignment with my views. I'm also not telling folks to express yourselves. But, I am disappointed with the tone and language of some posts. And I feel we are moving away from speaking with knowledge and fairness.
Why am I sharing this? What pushed me over the edge? Well, it would be the response people had when three prominent African-Americans in the entertainment industry (Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Will Smith) discussed their intentions to boycott this year's Academy Awards.
Most people who are angry about this boycott are saying why aren't these celebrities protesting against what is happening with the water supply in Flint, Michigan. Lord knows more attention needs to be paid to that horrendous tragedy. Look, that's fine. What I am NOT hearing is people say that this is a fair topic, one worthy of discussion. To be clear, it is an important topic, because it's bigger than the Academy Awards, as Jada Pinkett-Smith noted.
“Here’s the deal. This whole Oscar controversy isn’t really about the Oscars,” Pinkett-Smith said in a video posted by Entertainment Tonight.“Really, in my plea to ask all communities and people of color to take back our power is so that we can use it in all sectors of our community. And right now, specifically with African-American people, we have some very serious issues that I think we, as people, have to work together on. So I’m hoping that we can find ways to step together in this instead of finding ways to fight each other.”
Somehow this statement has been lost by folks who think an Oscar protest is something only an elite few should be concerned about.
When I think of film, I think of an important storytelling medium. As long as humans have been around, we have found ways to share our stories. Film and television are modern ways of sharing our stories. But if that medium doesn't represent the true diversity that exists in our society, well, that is a problem. Stories can and will be lost and forgotten. And we want to see those stories sometimes celebrated and rewarded. So, let's give folks like Spike Lee, (films include Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, Four Little Girls, When the Levees Broke, Get on the Bus, and Chi-Raq to name a few) one of the most socially active people in entertainment, the benefit of the doubt. What happened with the Oscar nominations is an injustice, and there is no time like the time close to the actual ceremony to have this discussion.
What we should be doing on social media is good. I feel as if we need to adopt something called constructive anger. Things will make us angry. That's virtually impossible to avoid. However, to complain without helping or offering help is not the message I want to send to my child. I hope others will join me. So, let's start by showing some sympathy to our fellow Americans in Flint and do that good!
What I would challenge folks to do is this. Post information on how your friends and followers can help the residents of Flint, Michigan. You know what, I'll make it easy. Post this piece! Below are some websites and numbers to contact if you want to help the residents of Flint!
- For those interested in donating money, go to FlintKids.org and click on "Donate Now".
- The Salvation Army of Genesee County is also accepting donations to pay for water, filters and to pay delinquent water bills for residents who have received shutoff notifications. To donate:
Go to www.salmich.org
Via smartphone: Text "WATER" to 91999
In addition, Rachel Maddow, who has been a tireless advocate for the people of Flint, is hosting a show on MSNBC tonight at 9 p.m.
Let's remember that social media can be used in a positive and helpful way. Consider adopting constructive anger, which can be a powerful and thought-provoking tool.