Smartphones, social media as tools for black liberation

Photo courtesy of Atria Books

The disturbing graphic video taken by then 17-year-old Darnella Frazier in May 2020, which showed the last minutes of George Floyd’s life, has been viewed and broadcast many times around the world. Likewise, smartphones and other mobile devices are now being used to visually confirm police violence against black people and people of color in this country.

That’s the entry point to “Seen and Unseen: Technology, Social Media, and the Fight for Racial Justice” by Marc Lamont Hill and Todd Brewster (Atria Books, Simon and Schuster), published May 3.

The new book explains, among other things, how cellphones and social media have “radically changed the visibility of black lives… Not only have they opened up opportunities for racial justice, but they have also energized the communications of those who would undermine justice.” and promote racism,” its press release read.

Hill, an award-winning journalist and frequent social commentator on various television networks, holds the Steve Charles Professorship in Media, Cities and Solutions at Temple University. He is the author or co-author of six books.

Co-writer Brewster, a veteran journalist and historian who previously worked as a senior producer for ABC News, has directed two documentaries.

In a recent phone interview with MSR, Hill warned that videos and images shot by ordinary citizens “are not silver bullets. They don’t solve all the problems. They don’t solve all our problems.

“It’s not enough to have pictures,” he continued. “We need to have a society that can respond to these images responsibly.”

Marc Lamont Hill
Photo courtesy of Atria Books

Frazier’s courageous act follows in the footsteps of history by Frederick Douglass and WEB DuBois, who each used photographs to show the humanity and dignity of black people. “It’s nothing new,” Hill said. “We fell on the shoulders of a long tradition of ancestors with new media and technology.

“Whether it’s Frederick Douglass or Ida B. Wells, whether it’s Dr. King on the evening news, whether it’s Mamie Till in Jet Magazine, we need the tools, media platforms and technology to help us free us. ”

After her freshman year at Morehouse College, Hill dropped out due to hanging around too much and getting into trouble. He then completed his undergraduate studies at Temple (BS in Education and Spanish, 2000) and received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia native admitted to being often rightly described as a controversial figure.

“My job is to disrupt the status quo,” Hill said. “If I wasn’t controversial, that would mean I would follow the norm, and the norm does nothing to help vulnerable people in this country.”

In recent years, lies and misinformation have been more the norm than the exception, and the truth is too often questioned and dismissed.

“I’ve never been big on the ‘capital T’ truth,” Hill said. “I think we are all struggling to discover our own fallible truth and to struggle with what the truth is. But in the end, the notion of truth has been stretched almost to the point that it is unrecognizable.

“So we have to find a way to reclaim that, to not allow people to make us believe that things are what they are not.”

About Debra D. Johnson

Check Also

ViewSonic Introduces Latest Display Technologies and Collaboration Tools for Flexible Learning Environments | New

NEW ORLEANS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–June 27, 2022– ISTE 2022 Booth #648–ViewSonic Corp., a leading global visual solutions …