In this age of technology, no one is safe from being videotaped in public. And while some may be uneasy with this lack of privacy, it provides a unique opportunity to shed light on many social injustices that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. When this material goes viral, consequences arise for the perpetrators. This is especially evident in two current news headlines, the first being a white woman who called the police after a black man asked her to leash her dog. The second, and much more tragic story, is that of a police officer kneeling on a black man’s neck, resulting in his death. What do these stories have in common? They’re both examples of the racial injustice that still happens today. Both videos went viral. And both the woman and the police officers have been fired from their jobs. Could viral videos illustrating instances of bigotry, racism, sexism, etc. be a good way to combat these issues in America?
Central Park Karen
In the first video, Amy Cooper, now dubbed #centralparkkaren (“Karen” being a new slang term for a stereotypical, entitled white woman), told bird watcher, Christian Cooper, that she would call the police and tell them that her life was being threatened by an African American man after he asked her to put her dog on a leash. She was in no way threatened and with recurring instances of police brutality against people of color, made a point to mention his race repeatedly in her 911 call. Overreacting is an understatement and racial profiling is nothing new in this country. After filming the incident, the video went viral and the woman has now been fired from her job. In addition, the rescue agency in which she had gotten her dog from has taken it back after many people showed concern for her handling of the animal. I’m grateful to see justice for this man in what could have been a very different story had there not been video evidence.
The other story currently circulating news headlines has a much more tragic end. A black man, George Floyd, died shortly after being arrested. Video of the arrest shows an officer kneeling on the man’s neck after he repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. All four police officers involved in the arrest have been fired which provides some justice, but many are calling for them to be tried for murder as well. Had there not been a witness videotaping the incident, would we even know about the details? Situations like these are not uncommon and remind the public of police brutality against people of color. It’s a shame we must rely on video evidence as proof of these injustices, but if recording these incidents prevents future ones, maybe it’s time we started taking the initiative to get our phones out when we see it happening.
Is publicly shaming people with photos and videos an effective way to prevent these aggressions? Under what circumstances would you pull your phone out and start recording? ￼What if someone was being rude to the waiter at the table next to you? What if you saw a group of guys cat calling a woman on the street?￼ What if you overheard someone using racial slurs in public?￼ It’s shameful that even after decades of social progress we still have to address racism, misogyny, homophobia, and bigotry in America. But if taking a video and posting it on social media helps put a stop to these injustices, I’m prepared to do my part.