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We see them all over our social media timelines but are the Breonna Taylor images people are sharing really making an impact? Full Frontal with Samantha Bee is tackling this question in tonight’s episode and she’s bringing in some powerful women to help start the conversation. We got an exclusive sneak peek of the discussion hosted by comedian, actress and writer Naomi Ekperigin who speaks with author Feminista Jones and activist Talesha Wilson. Together, these three women drop some much-needed facts.
Jones is the author of Reclaiming Our Space: How Black Feminists are Changing the World From the Tweets to the Streets, a book about social media activism. “How are we going to arrest the cops that shot Breonna, when people just want to post the watercolor paintings of her!” Ekperigin asked. Jones answered simply, “That’s not gonna happen… Posting a meme about the NBA schedule and then you swipe and it says, ‘Arrest the people that killed Breonna Taylor.’ That’s not gonna work.”
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Jones said if people want to help with justice for Taylor, talk to the “folks organizing in Louisville.”
“I’m on it. I’m on it Feminista,” Ekperigin declared. Mission accepted. Ekperigin zoomed in with Talesha Wilson, a grassroots organizer in Kentucky, who’s been an activist since she was in high school. Wilson and Ekperigin first discussed the proper pronunciation of Louisville. Wilson advised it’s “Louisville with a little spunk.” And then they practiced it 25 times. Go watch and learn.
But what about all of those illustrated and hand-drawn images and memes of Breonna Taylor that continue to flood our timelines? Wilson likes them and feels like they “reach people that they wouldn’t reach unless you get it in that way.” Wilson also mentioned the social media platforms she uses to reach people. She mentioned Black Planet and Ekperigin immediately asked, “How do I get to Black planet?! I want to be on a Black planet!” Wilson said she now uses the usual platforms you’d expect, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.” But if she wants to reach Gen Z, she heads to the Tok, TikTok. “That’s where they are.”
Where’s the line between activism and memification? (Ekperigin invented that word and we’re on board with it). Jones put it bluntly, “When it’s memification, you just want to post something to look cute, so you could show them your post (to prove) … that I had heard that she got shot.” Ekperigin agreed, and joked do people really think the Attorney General in Louisville is looking at these tweets he’s tagged in, “No he’s at the RNC, or as I like to call it political Get Out.”
While Wilson sees the value to memes, she says posting “is not enough.” In fact, she says it’s “not enough to just protest. You have to do all of those things together.” So what does it all meme, er mean? Pretty images on social media are not enough. To create real change and to get the justice that Breonna Taylor deserves, we need to take our activism beyond our screens and into the streets, into the mailboxes and inboxes of officials and not stop until the people responsible for her death are arrested.
Make sure to catch the full episode of Full Frontal With Samantha Bee tonight at 10:30/9:30c on TBS.