Since Facebook updated its platform for users to be able to add different frames or messages on the border of their profile photos, people have been updating and changing their profile pictures to help represent certain causes.
The idea behind changing a profile picture on social media is to generate massive amounts of awareness without costing the organization or cause a penny in marketing dollars. When you update your profile picture, your friends and their friends have a chance of seeing that update. Changing a profile photo is an easy and simple way to let those who follow you know where you stand and what you are about.
Recently, TikTok users have been changing their profile pictures to an image of a black fist. There is a lot of buzz around what the image means and why so many users are doing it. The black fist in users’ profile pictures is to represent the Black Lives Matter movement.
The black fist image is to show awareness of the BLM cause.
According to their website, The Black Lives Matter Global Network is a chapter-based, member-led organization whose mission is to build local power and to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.
Black Lives Matter began as a call to action in response to state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism, like the murder of Trayvon Martin or the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Black Lives Matter works to connect Black people from all over the world who have a shared desire for justice to act together in their communities.
The movement goes into further detail about what the Black Lives Matter movement believes in on their website and states, “Enraged by the death of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman, and inspired by the 31-day takeover of the Florida State Capitol by POWER U and the Dream Defenders, we took to the streets.”
They continue, “A year later, we set out together on the Black Lives Matter Freedom Ride to Ferguson, in search of justice for Mike Brown and all of those who have been torn apart by state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism. Forever changed, we returned home and began building the infrastructure for the Black Lives Matter Global Network, which, even in its infancy, has become a political home for many.”
While the Black Lives Matter movement is not new, recent news has brought it back to the forefront.
On Feb. 23, 2020, Ahmaud Aubrey, a 25-year-old black man, was fatally shot after being pursued by Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34. Ahmaud was out for a run in his neighborhood when he was chased and gunned down and killed by the father and son.
His unjust death lit a new fire around the Black Lives Matter movement, and once again, brought up the issues with racism in America. While Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael were eventually charged in the murder of Ahmaud, many believe it was too little, too late considering that not many even knew of the killing until two months later when video footage of the murder was leaked. Once the video went viral, the public outcry was overwhelming.
“They did not arrest the killers of Ahmaud Arbery because they saw the video,” Arbery family attorney Ben Crump said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press. “They arrested the killers of Ahmaud Arbery because we saw the video, the public saw the video and it went viral. It was shocking. People were astonished.”
The Black Lives Matter movement gained further attention following the death of George Floyd, a man who was killed during an arrest on May 25 when a white officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes.
Many TikTok creators are using their platform to bring more awareness to the BLM movement.
TikTok users like @virgosaresuperior, @backbackbooboo, @aniyauheckard, and @dzekiel are using their TikTok popularity to create videos, artistically, and unapologetically, that show the unjust racism in America.
In one video, user @dzekiel using a POV-type post to the track “This is America” by Childish Gambino to show what it’s like to be a black male in America and to call for justice for Ahmaud.
TikTok came under fire for appearing to censor the Black Lives Matter movement on their platform.
On May 28, Twitter user @revengedja tweeted out images of hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter or any hashtag related to George Floyd being blocked on TikTok. Alongside the photos, he said, "TikTok blocked the #blacklivesmatter tag and every single tag related to #GeorgeFloyd. This is disgusting. F--k TikTok."
The app responded the following day, writing on Twitter, "We are aware of an issue that is impacting the hashtag view counts displayed at the upload stage. This appears to affect words at random, including terms like #cat and #hello. Our team is investigating and working quickly to address the issue."
On the TikTok Support Twitter account, TikTok reiterated their knowledge of the issue and then stated that "we recognize that it unfortunately came at a painful time for the Black community in particular. We deeply value the diverse voices on TikTok, and we apologize for the confusion and pain this situation caused."
They then made an official statement on the matter on the main TikTok Twitter account.
"At TikTok we deeply value the diverse voices among our users, creators, artists, partners, and employees," they wrote. "We stand with the Black community and are proud to provide a platform where #blacklivesmatter and #georgefloyd generate powerful and important content with over 1 billion views. We are committed to fostering a space where everyone is seen and heard."