Intercept

Memory of victims of violence often fades with news cycle

Marlize Duncan, Reporter

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#JusticeforJunior. #JusticeforSandraBland. #JusticeforTrayvonMartin. #JusticeForWho?

It seems as weeks pass that there is a new name added to the ever-growing hashtag. Names of those who were killed, put on the forefront of social media for everyone to see. But what happens after the hashtag isn’t trending?

These tactics of displaying the deaths of people on platforms such as Instagram do have an impact on those who use them. Following the recent death of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman Felix on June 20th, 2018, people took to social media to express their feelings of the event. This is evident with the over 178,000 posts hashtagged with “JusticeforJunior” on Instagram alone.

RIP Junior 🤧💔 #justiceforjunior

A post shared by J A M E’S S I S T E R 🖤🙇⛈ (@lxnda.spammm) on

Because of the fast-paced environment of news and social media, it can seem as though people are quick to forget about the victims mentioned. Once it is gone from the public eye, the more current news is what becomes relevant.

Akoto Ofori-Atta, a senior editor of The Trace, a non-profit American journalism outlet centered around gun-related issues, said that although the news cycle moves on, that is not the case in these affected communities.

“I would say that when it seems like people have moved on, do some research in the community where these happened and quite often you’ll find that there are people on the ground who actually haven’t moved on at all,” Ofori-Atta said.

Keep in mind that these stories of these people may stay relevant because of the race of the victim and those affected. After the mass shooting at the Florida high school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland City, that left 17 people dead, the world saw a rise in solidarity with the survivors. The fact that there were people like David Hogg and Jaclyn Corin- whom are both white and live in an affluent area with an average income of $128,000 per household– to advocate are only two variables that had a February shooting still remain in the media’s eye into June.

 

In contrast, we have cases of people like Michael “Mike” Brown, an 18-year-old killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, a city that has a median family income of $41,000. When in a neighborhood of lower income, having the resources to create a national movement doesn’t come as easily.

When Derek Lewis, 16, was asked if he believed if race played a part in how long a story was drawn out, he hesitated.

“We try to bring it out more…the blacks do,” Lewis said. “Sometimes the whites just say ‘Oh, it’s everybody, it’s not just the blacks’ and try to shut it down.”

In a way, race and privilege can be a great force in how news is digested. Much like how the Black Lives Matter movement was discredited, so are the stories of the people who fill in the blank of a hashtag. Knowing that there are people who want to ‘shut down’ the way people bring awareness of death and gun violence, we need to have people determined enough to keep it alive.

Keep it alive. That alone, is the key to how these people are remembered, social media or not. There are many organizations that work to make sure that people aren’t just thought of as hashtags and brings awareness to the severity that gun violence is.

The digital portrait series “Justice For Our Lives,” created by Oree Originol, takes victims of gun violence that were once a trending hashtag and creates artwork that can be used as a tool to educate.

On his website it says, “[Justice For Our Lives] responds to current police killings of marginalized people by producing a portrait of individual victims.” From there “the viewers are able to engage with each portrait and the story behind them.”

With all the names that are produced on social networks and etched into the minds of those who see them, are also names of those who remain unsung. There are youth that die everyday, and go unrecognized; possibly lost from the public eye, but organizations like, “The Trace” work to prevent that.

Ofori-Atta said that the project was about reminding people of the ways in which gun violence is a public safety and health issue. She sees the project as a chance to really drive home to people who might not understand how grave gun violence is.

Although social media may lose the stories of these people from their timelines, especially as more information berates the internet, that doesn’t mean that the stories of these people are less important or forgotten. As long as we as a people continue to keep the conversations of the victims relevant and realize the problems we face as a society, we aren’t stuck wondering #justiceforwho?

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Race from the eyes of this generation
Memory of victims of violence often fades with news cycle