Stop making a photoshoot out of a movement you don’t care about

The murder of George Floyd has been labeled a “wake up call” for the nation’s attachment to police brutality and how it values Black lives. When do these social media posts become more about the appearance of rebellion and less about justice?

What has been a generational issue has been brought to the streets in the form of protests and rioting. The youth stormed their cities demanding change and reform; for many, for the first time in their lives. Voices that have never been heard before are being uplifted by young adults who have never challenged discrimination head-on. 

Every day new faces are joining the revolution. We see them on the news, on our social media, in our neighborhoods and on our campuses. People are posting their involvement on every platform, encouraging others to go out and make a change alongside them.

If the only thing tempting you to protest is to prove that you did, you’re doing it wrong.

Videos are being mass shared as influencers pose in front of destroyed storefronts for mere moments before getting back inside of their cars and going home. A viral video on Twitter exposed social media influencer Kris Shatzel of being at an LA protest in full photoshoot attire. The video shows her posing on the streets, in the way of other protesters, while a photographer takes photos. 

When she received backlash, she promptly posted a response to Instagram. She wrote, “In conclusion, I believe this level of intolerance and hateful comments are detrimental to the movement..,” and excuses the photos as a necessity for her modeling page. 

Amidst a sea of activists risking bodily harm in solidarity of the centuries-long abuse of Black Americans, some are just there for a photo opportunity. 

The message is diluted at the hands of insta-fame and a pat on the back. Kendall Jenner and Pepsi brought the truth to our screens years ago as Jenner ended a protest by offering a world-changing Pepsi to an officer. People will do anything to seem like they’re a part of the movement; they’ll ensure that they benefit from it too.

People love White people for doing the bare minimum of caring about someone outside of their own race, no questions asked. Facebook is littered with photos of White cops sitting with Black children, the posters always accusing the mass media of refusing such photos in their coverage. These people expect us to applaud officers for simply doing their job.

We cannot thank White people for caring about Black lives enough to simply acknowledge this. We will not thank an officer for not killing us. 

Zachary Francois, a freshman at Georgia State, expressed that these situations were anything but a surprise.

“We are shedding light on performative acts of ‘solidarity’ over people doing the d— thing. I expected it. It just hurts,” he said. 

Francois believes that these acts not only harm the message, but that they have made a mockery of it.

“Was it all for show to show your friends you’re progressive? To keep up with an image; to not get canceled?” Francois said. 

Being a protester is not an aesthetic or a get out of jail free card for future or past racist mistakes. This isn’t a time to bust out your purge costume from two Halloween’s ago. It isn’t visually pleasing shout in the streets for justice, and if you’re spray painting monuments for your VSCO, we hear your true intentions loud and clear. 

“If you aren’t genuine about it, you don’t really support it. Eventually, the protests are gonna stop, but the movement won’t, so people need to keep the same energy they had when it was time to post cute protest pics,” Sophie Houenou, a sophomore at Georgia State, said.

This is a movement, not a moment; if you can’t put your whole heart behind it, just stay out of the way.