Guest post by Lizzy Guy
Like many people, I was first made aware of the terrible events in New Zealand via social media, when I woke up and looked at my phone. I’m sure I’m not alone: status after status of outpourings of disbelief and shock; comments which read “My thoughts go out to my friends in New Zealand”, “Can’t believe the world we’re in”, “Humans are disgusting”, and so on. The thing is, we now believe that a public statement will excuse us from any type of action; you’ve given your ‘woke’ opinion, now it’s time to go to work and forget about it. What’s even worse is, instead of searching for the news ourselves, we simply reply “What happened?”. Tragedy after tragedy, I see these sentences regurgitated and plagiarised, to the point that all meaning has been diluted down to utter nothingness. And whilst voicing our disbelief is perfectly fine, our words are empty.
The academic and activist Rachel Elizabeth Cargyle wrote:
“I don’t want your love and light if it doesn’t come with solidarity and action”
(If you’re not following her and her work, please do: @rachel.cargyle). Tweeting about how sad your feel doesn’t help anyone; people died, many were injured and a community was torn apart. One acquaintance openly discussed watching the footage online; they couldn’t ‘finish’ it, it was ‘too distressing’, as a mutual friend agreed, their discussion voyeuristic and emotionless. Our written dirge stinks of privilege, because unless you’ve been a victim of hate crime, then you can’t possibly know how it feels to be targeted.
Instead of looking for social hits, we need to get angry. We need to demand better. We need to come to action.
Referring to the Pyramid of White Supremacy, which was coined by the Equality Institute, violent actions such as mass murder cannot exist if they are not support by behaviour that is not perceived as serious, such as turning the other cheek or not challenging hateful behaviour. Brenton Tarrant may have been born into a low income family, but he was not born Islamaphobic. Increasing negative attitudes and hateful speech in the right wing media have done nothing but fuel this hatred
So, how do we help?
Here are some suggestions:
Write to your MP. Ask them what we can do to offer help in difficult situations. I believe right wing media has a lot to answer for when stirring hatred, so ask them what they’re going to do to help prevent future situations?
With regards to the journalism, stop buying, commenting or sharing on any of their media outlets. Even a click on a non-political article, or a purchase for a freebie counts as a sale in their books.
As with the above examples, write to advertisers within these publications. Ask them why they think it’s right to fund hate speech? There’s a great group on Facebook called Stop Funding Hate, which I really recommend for similar activism.
Donate. It’s simple really. Thoughts and prayers do nothing, but donations of time, money, food etc (depending on the event or disaster) will speak volumes.
Challenge your friends and family. Hearing a joke or comment that you’re uncomfortable with? Then shut it down. This is obviously a very difficult area to navigate for many, and I am aware that in writing this I am speaking from a privileged position where I have a happy friend and family life. I’m aware others aren’t so lucky.
Petitions. Sign them, share them, donate to them.
The fortunate result of this horrible tragedy came from the actions of the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinta Arden, who addressed the victims, made sure the murderer’s name wasn’t glorified and immediately reformed gun laws in her country. Individually, we may not have the same power, but if we use our voices and actions collectively, we can really make a difference.