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How To Spread Awareness Without Spreading Trauma

The first Black men I saw murdered on camera: Eric Garner and Philando Castille. Unfortunately, they were not the last. 

 

Within recent years, the reposting of videos and images that depict the brutalization of Black people has almost become a trend. While it is understandable that people want to spread awareness about the atrocities that take place in the U.S, the consumption of trauma porn often does more harm than good. Not only do these videos desensitize the public to Black death and Black trauma, but it holds the potential to trigger Black viewers, inducing fear, anger and anxiety. Awareness is important, but it should not have to come at the expense of one’s mental health.

 

Here are a few things to consider in your efforts to shed light on social injustices:

 

Look for articles and information from verified sources. 

Although social media often serves as our first source of news, not all information on social media comes from the news. Facts can be easily misconstrued and, at times, the information might be completely made up. If possible, try to make sure that the information you are about to repost came from a verified reporter or news site. Always do your own research. Look for consistent details among multiple news sources.

 

Add trigger warnings

Trigger warnings are important; some content might cause distress to viewers. If your source includes details or images that depict brutality, make sure that you add a trigger warning. Inflicting anxiety and discomfort to your followers is counterintuitive to the prospect of spreading awareness in a productive manner.

 

Ask yourself: What message am I spreading by sharing this?

Whenever we repost, we are contributing to the normalization of that image, video, or graphic. Conversations surrounding injustices should be normalized, along with the information and statistics that back it up. However, you can prove that racism and oppression take place without sharing videos in which Black people, or any other human being, are being executed. 

 

Awareness is extremely important, but it is only the first step in dismantling the systems that uphold racism, and the traumatization of Black people should not be a part of this task.

So, before you press that repost button, try to ensure that you are not furthering the damage done by oppression and white supremacy.

If Black lives really do matter, then the well-being of Black people should matter too.

Cory Utsey

Howard '23

Cory Utsey is a writer and blogger studying journalism at Howard University. Her interests include mainstream media, culture and social justice. Through her writing, she hopes to promote racial equity, wellness and intersectionality.
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