Black Lives Matter, too

Tomi Lahren on Black Lives Matter

After reading the articles, I went online to search more about the movement and the “all lives matter” response. The video above, in my opinion, represents a lot of people who would say all lives matter and their argument against the movement. Watching her talk made me angry, even though before this video I also felt like the movement is not that much my concern, because how can someone contradict herself so much but still defends herself so confidently?

The entire premise of All Lives Matter is to distract and erase the whole idea behind BLM. Black Lives Matter started because evidence has shown that even though many choose to ignore it, racism is still very much alive in this country and black people are still discriminated against – they understand that all lives matter, but the people who are starting the All lives matter slogan do not see that they meant “black lives matter TOO”.

Ransby’s article on the movement points out a few problems with the movement – it is too often dismissed as a leaderless movement that will not succeed, even though it does. The history of BLM is all on the internet for anyone to learn, its strong ties to feminism and the LGBTQ community, has all been discussed by leaders of the movement publicly. But people want things handed to them. Which is why there are so many people doing things under the BLM name wrongly. Which is also why people like Tomi Lahren would criticise the movement – they were already against it, after seeing so much bad press, they felt justified to call activists “cry babies still protesting for a failed movement.”

#BlackLivesMatter is still alive and I think its more important than ever right now; more structure, more education, more change.

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How Egypt and the U.S. Can Help One Another

As I mentioned in class on Thursday, the fact is that social media and digital technology as a whole carries an altogether different weight in certain regions of the world. In the United States and certain parts of Europe where we can enjoy more liberties than say Egypt and other countries in the Middle East, social media and digital technology has achieved a level of trivialness to it. A large portion of media exists primarily a entertainment for the masses. In countries like Egypt, these same technologies are more of a tool to fight back against authoritarian military rule. Where we post videos of us and our friends standing still while Rae Sremmurd’s Black Beatles or paste the Jordan crying meme over anything we can, the digital generation of other countries post horrifying evidence to injustice. The digital generation of other countries create movements, an unofficial network, a system of resistance where it can only exist. The digital world is a safe haven in countries like Egypt. Don’t get me wrong, all across more privilege countries social media and the digital plane are being utilized to galvanize the masses. Especially recently, places like Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr have been used to organize movements like the Women’s March, Black Lives Matter, and the Occupy movement. There are two things you can say about this:

The first would be that these movements are all fairly new considering when countries like the United States were first introduced to social media. This fact can be both concerning and comforting. It is concerning because it speaks to a sort of devolution of society. It seems as if more and more problems arise everyday. Every time you look at your phone a new social injustice threatens to further divide our society. But one can argue that all of these social injustices have always existed only now with the blazing fast interconnected network that is social media and the digital age, every single indiscretion is at the mercy of being highlighted and magnified and rallied against. And that’s why the fact that so many movements are popping up in the digital realm is comforting. Because people are finally beginning to understand how to use social media and other digital outlets as ways to unite and inform and fight for what is right and just. Because the internet is no longer just a place to find memes or porn or other nonsensical stuff. Because online you can find support from people you’ve never even met. All of these reasons are why things like Black Lives Matter are important and comforting.

Which brings me back to the youth of the digital age in places like Egypt. Since their inception Twitter and other social media platforms have been tools utilized by the citizenry of Egypt to fight back against the military rule. Because of this these societies have been learning how to use their digital advantage for much longer than other more privileged places. Like I said, in Egypt the capabilities of Twitter matter much more than in some parts of the United States. The power of digital technologies is not only more valuable but it has been explored more by the youth and the oppressed. It is because of this fact, the fact that the youth of Egypt have been fighting their fight for years and years in the digital realm, that the studies and research on the impacts of digital technologies on the new generation should focus in places like Egypt. Not only that, but that countries like the United States should both pay close attention, and work vehemently with digital warriors of these regions to fully explore the revolutionary power of new technology.

The Digital Age & Youth

With the Digital Age, youth is becoming more powerful in the sense that their opinions and problems are being spread globally. This global spread is creating a strong basis for youth in countries in North Africa and the Middle East. With social media the youth can speak on political issues and humans rights. People living in repression have the ability to express their views on their unjust conditions regarding politics and economics. According to Linda Herrera it is important to understand the youth connectivity and unemployment in places such as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) compared to that of North America and Europe. It is vital to get a global perspective and take into account the third-world countries that are suffering the most. By looking at the Digital Age from a global stand point an individual can achieve more and possibly help spread equality. When we look at areas such as the Middle East and North Africa we can see a large distinction between the Digital age in comparison countries such as North America. I think that our problems in America are minimal to those in places such as Egypt. For example, in 2011 students in Egypt used social media to vocalize the dissatisfaction with corrupt teachers and administrators.  The SCAF (government) in Egypt created most of this uproar that caused a revolution because the people were unhappy with the “ruling regime”. During this revolution youth communicated using media such as Facebook to protest and disagree with their government. “Compared to previous generations, youth coming to age in the digital era are learning and exercising citizenship in fundamentally different ways” (Herrea 334). These different ways include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. What I find remarkable about the digital age is the youth, students in particular, can learn and connect with each other to create a more fitting global society. Through social media students can understand each other in ways like never before. Although there may be difference in class, ideology, geography and gender, the digital age is bringing our youth together like never before. “…as youth around the globe develop common behaviors and attitudes stemming form their interaction with new media and communication tools, we can speak at some levels of global youth culture” (Castells 2007). This phenomena is amazing and will shape our world positively for a brighter future.

Understanding Egypt’s Current State

From someone who had just started learning about activism in Egypt, it is a little bit hard to believe that the 2011 revolution’s success only lasted that long. Herrera’s article helped me understand this a little bit. It went into depth about how the ‘wired generation’, or simply the youth, was able to mobilise the revolution through the internet. The article also pointed out the limitations of the wired generation – in relation to going backwards after the revolution – short attention span and lack of long term planning skills.

Herrera raised an important question: “Does our generation possess the skill sets, vision, resources and organisational know-how necessary to build and sustain the type of democratic and just society it values?”

From Egypt’s current state, its clear that the youth is able to voice their ideologies alright, but they were unable to take the leadership role themselves, and now they are unable to overthrow the regime because it has become more repressive than ever. Its government had issued highly restrictive assembly laws that banned public protests back in 2013. In the following year, Egypt’s current president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi gave the military even more power than they already had by placing all ‘public and vital facilities’ under military jurisdiction – this means that since protesting is illegal, civilians will be trialled in military court for doing so, which is what has been happening in Egypt for the past few years.

Before the 2011 revolution, it was police brutality, but now its the military. As shown in so many cases, they can arrest and hold people up to years without ever giving them a trail, they can torture people into confessing or they can trial them without following due process. Military court also does not have a different set of rules for juveniles, making it dangerous for anyone and everyone.

Going back to Herrera’s question about the new generation’s ability: I think it has been repressed before it could mature, and is being led into wrong directions.

Are We All Khaled Said?

Yes and No. (Of course this is just based on the readings)

Yes, because the message behind the WAAKS page and movement is very important – it played a huge role in the 2011 revolution – it not only exposed the social injustice and especially police brutality that had been swept under the rug for so long, but it also succeeded in obtaining local and international support, assembled people virtually and made real life protests possible. Khaled Said was not the first nor the last person to die because of the abuse of power and emergency law, but through digital activism he was made a martyr for their cause.

  • Emergency Law – before 2011, the emergency law gave authority the power to “impose restrictions on the freedoms of assembly, move or residence; the power to arrest and detain suspects or those deemed dangerous, and the power to search individuals and places without the need to follow the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code”

This law was extended many times and gave the Egyptian police too much power. WAAKS was mainly a movement against this law. Even though this movement was successful by reaching out to the middle class and youth through the internet by making Said a relatable, everyday Egyptian, it still had its shortcomings.

When the title suggests it, you try to relate to the cause, but maybe the movement was not all that relatable, as it does not cover all aspects of the problems existing in Egypt, especially problems experienced by the youth. Drug abuse, sexism, depression… these are all common problems that were not discussed because it did not serve the agenda – and if they made it apparent that Said had these problems, it would bring down his martyr image. So no, maybe we are not all Khaled Said, because the movement only reached out to some of the people.

WAAKS was and is still a very important movement, though. It mobilised the country, especially connecting the youth demographic through digital activism, which had not been done in Egypt before that. Reading the Facebook page and its back story made me realise how all of these successful campaigns are small and easy to start, but if the right tools are utilised (in this case, the internet), it could start a revolution.