After the verdict in the Trayvon Martin tragedy was announced, many of you wrote to us expressing your outrage, disappointment and sheer fear of a future where our beautiful Black boys can be racially profiled without consequence. We, your Essence family, shared these same emotions. As we cried for Trayvon’s parents and paced the floor, trying to find an outlet for our anguish, we realized that we as a community have a powerful, impactful and immediate tool at hand to help influence the conversation and change perceptions of Black males in America: social media.
And so, last Tuesday, we launched our first-ever counter-stereotyping social media campaign to stop racial profiling, #HeIsNotASuspect. We were determined to alter mindsets and present positive images that prove our Black boys and men are so much more than a stereotype.
And you, dear readers, responded by the tens of thousands! As you posted photo after gorgeous photo of your beautiful sons, grandsons, brothers, nephews, cousins and neighbors, we marveled at the babies, tweens, teens, young men and adults who are that 180 degree antithesis to the menacing, dangerous and denigrating images that have been associated with our Black males for FAR TOO LONG. Here’s just a sampling of what you told us:
“Thank you Essence for creating this platform allowing our voices to be heard…#HeIsNotASuspect gives me hope that something meaningful and great will surface out of the death of Trayvon Martin.” –Peggy Carter, on Essence.com
“The #heisnotasuspect tag is so touching—a reminder that the anti-racist fight saves lives.” –@muteshark, via Twitter
“There is only one #ff possible today, and it’s bringing a lump to my throat. It’s a hashtag, not a person. It’s #HeIsNotASuspect.”–@TraceyBVoice, via Twitter
Thank you to all of you who have taken action—you’ve inspired us, warmed our hearts, and strengthened our resolve to fight racial stereotyping head-on.
But we need just one more thing from you: help us to spread the word throughout your social networks. We have set a goal to realize 20,000 posts for #HeIsNotASuspect by August 28, 2013—the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, that historic moment Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed his hope that one day our children would be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
We need you; your community needs you. The stakes are high! We must continue the fight for progress; as we raise our voices together, we secure a safer, and saner, future for our children.
Post a photo of you and a young Black man you care about on Instagram and Facebook now, using the hashtag #HeIsNotASuspect. Please include a few words explaining why he’s so much more than a stereotype.