Social media has been a powerful tool for recent Black Lives Matters protests. People around the country are posting live streams, videos and photos of protests around the globe, urging others to take to the streets.
University of Oregon junior Tristan Waits, who identifies as mixed race, used Instagram to encourage people to take action. He posted a receipt for a donation to the American Civil Liberties Union on his Instagram story, with the caption, “Put your money where your mouth is or shut up.” He called on his white followers to do the same.
Shortly after, his Instagram messages were flooded with other Instagram stories, in which his followers had posted their ACLU donation receipts as well, with the same caption. Waits estimates at least 60 people tagged him in these posts.
Waits posted the story because he was tired of white people using the Black Lives Matter movement for social gain.
“It’s insulting to see white people trivialize and turn black deaths into shitty hashtags and pictures posted,” Waits says. “It’s kind of disgusting. An Instagram hashtag is not going to help out the ACLU as much as your action of donating.”
When Waits saw his call to action begin to work, he was surprised. “If you’re just being performative, that’s one thing,” Waits says. “But if you’re actually making real change and holding other people accountable, I say be as performative as you want.”