Activism Must Go Beyond Social Media


On March 16, eight people were killed in shootings at massage parlors around Atlanta, Georgia. Six of the victims were Asian American women, and the perpetrator was a white man. The shootings were racially motivated, following a surge in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020, and they called attention to anti-Asian sentiment nationwide.

For Americans unaware of the escalating anti-Asian violence, these shootings were simultaneously a wake-up call and a call to action. Once again, social media became the outlet for activism. In the wake of this tragedy, users posted condolences to the victims’ families, then turned their attention toward infographics and hashtags about stopping anti-Asian violence. Social media is an important part of modern-day activism; however, it is essential that we continue our advocacy beyond our small screens. 

While social media is an excellent place to start, it is not always the place to help those in need or create lasting change. We must take care that our social media posts always aim at righting the wrongs we call attention to. When we use social media to talk about issues that matter to us, we run the risk of making posts less about the causes and more about ourselves. If we’re not careful, we can stray into performative activism. Using the hashtag #StopAsianHate does nothing to help Asian Americans; it serves the sole purpose of telling your social media followers that you are not racist without asking you to change your behavior. 

#StopAsianHate is the latest case of performative activism, yet it is far from the first. On June 2, 2020, many Americans participated in “Blackout Tuesday” by posting black squares to call attention to the Black Lives Matter movement. However, instead of drawing attention to the movement and its goals, black squares crowded social media feeds and drowned out posts with helpful information. Instead of assisting the movement, Blackout Tuesday had the opposite effect. Once again, the only people to benefit from these posts were those who used the black squares to show off their own wokeness.

We appreciate your posts about causes that matter to you, and we love to hear you show your support of movements you find important. We do ask, though, that you consider the impact of your posts. Social media is a fantastic tool for spreading information and raising awareness, and posts that do this can be great resources to people looking to get involved in combating an issue.

Getting involved should always be the goal of social media activism. Posting eight Instagram slides is not enough — activism must go further than the performative level of social media if it is to make real change. We urge you to step beyond the confines of online activism and devote your time or money to real-life organizations that can help advance your cause.

Since this editorial has, so far, consisted of only words and little action, is it just another piece of performative activism? Our answer: It doesn’t have to be. The Fordham Ram takes its role  seriously, and we want our voice to be one that helps others and encourages change. 

There are multiple ways to involve yourself that go beyond surface-level activism. If there are protests or rallies dedicated to stopping Asian hate in your area, consider attending to show your support. If you can’t attend, perhaps post the details of the event on social media to spread awareness to your local friends. The information you share on social media should be relevant and helpful to your audience; sharing an infographic that’s been seen a thousand times is not the best use of your platform.

Donating to Asian American organizations is another way you can expand your activism to help others. To support the victims of the shootings in Atlanta, you can donate to the local chapter of Asian Americans Advancing Justice. On a national level, consider supporting larger groups like the AAPI Community Fund. If you want to make an impact in your local community, there is undoubtedly an organization meant to support Asian Americans in your area. Here in New York City, the group Send Chinatown Love is working to support Asian American restaurant owners whose sales have plummeted in the face of anti-Asian sentiment.

As a whole, we encourage you to involve yourself further in your activism both on and off social media. We see your compassion towards victims of bias and brutality in your posts; we only ask that you follow them with a passion to help remedy those wrongs.