Juneteenth (the forgotten day) | June 5, 2020
Three Things This Week
1. TikTok Racism?
What it is: Users have accused TikTok of censoring and demoting posts from Black creators, and TikTok has apologized...sort of.
Why it’s tense: One TikToker who is new to the platform said, “The most common issue I see happening is Black creators having their posts or accounts shadow-banned and/or randomly deleted for ‘going against community guidelines.’” So Black creators banded together and protested the marginalization on May 19. TikTok’s apology claimed that a “technical error” caused videos using #BlackLivesMatter to appear as if they had zero views and that error affected all hashtags, not just certain ones. However, TikTok’s track record in this area isn’t good, since it admitted in December that it suppressed videos by disabled, queer, and fat creators. If your teens are on TikTok, they won’t have missed this tension, and they may have strong feelings about it they don’t know how to express. They might benefit from having a safe person to talk to.
What it is: TikTok has been dethroned! An app that is basically TikTok’s clone has topped the charts this week, but its growth isn’t exactly organic.
Why it’s gaining popularity: If you thought TikTok was addictive, you ain’t seen nothin’! Zynn (which is also owned by a Chinese company) employs several subversive tactics for gaining users and hooking them. First, it actually pays its users for referring friends and watching videos. Who wouldn’t choose the app that pays them over the app that, well, doesn’t? Second, they use what’s known in behavioral psychology as “intermittent variable rewards” (the same technique used to hook people on slot machines). Though they’re not the first social media company to employ the technique, they might be the first to combine it with money. Randomly, watching one video is rewarded with more points than usual, keeping users always wondering if the next video will be the jackpot. We predict your teens will be asking to sign up for the app soon.
What it is: An effort to “raise awareness about police brutality and systemic racism” quickly took hold on social media but then appeared to backfire.
Why it’s confusing: The movement started as #TheShowMustBePaused, which was created by two Black music industry executives to encourage those in the industry to “intentionally disrupt the work week….to take a beat for an honest, reflective, and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community.” Somehow, it morphed into people simply posting black squares with hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter and #BlackOutTuesday, then committing to being silent on social media so they could listen and reflect. Activists said this effectively drowned informative, useful posts in a sea of black squares and asked people to stop using them. If your teen joined in the movement, it’s either a sign they care about the movement or that all their friends do and they didn’t want to be left out.
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In 1619, one year prior to the arrival of the Mayflower on Cape Cod, the first Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia. Kidnapped by Portuguese sailors, these 20 or so individuals were bought by the English settlers and forced into servitude. From this portentous start, the roots of African bondage in America began. In a little over 200 years, some 3,953,760 Blacks were enslaved in the United States in what activist Jim Wallis calls “America’s original sin.” What made slavery in the U.S. different from other historical forms of subjugation was that from the very beginning it was entrenched in Blackness. To be Black meant you were born inferior, born into social, personal, and spiritual chains. Black became synonymous with danger, “thuggery,” and laziness. And unfortunately, many people today still hold these uneducated beliefs.
Sadly, it would take the Civil War and the death of 620,000 Americans at one another’s hands to end chattel bondage. But even then, vestiges of slavery still existed in parts of the United States. Two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s "Emancipation Proclamation," Union General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas on June 19, finally freeing the remaining 250,000 slaves. Since then, Juneteenth has been celebrated in African American communities as the oldest official commemoration of the ending of slavery. Today, it serves as a reminder of our checkered past and the 400 years of systemic injustice that Black Americans have had to endure as they continue their fight for equality.
This year, Juneteenth carries even more weight, as America continues her long stride toward freedom. As parents, we have an incredible opportunity to use this special day to educate our children on our nation’s past, even the parts we’d rather not talk about. Listen to Black voices, learn from our national sins, and be humble enough to admit our own prejudices and our own fears. We’ve come a long way as a people, but we have more work to do. May we, the Body of Christ, lead the way toward racial reconciliation, justice, and peace in our nation. Here are five resources to get this difficult conversation started with your kids.
- 1. Talking with Your Children About Protests and Racism
- 2. A Collection of Resources for Teaching Social Justice
- 3. How White Parents Can Talk to Their Kids About Race
- 4. Racism and Violence: How to Help Kids Handle the News
- 5. It’s Never Too Early to Talk About Race
Keep the Faith!
The Axis Team
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