Most trends in the fashion world begin and end in a season, and in the case of fast fashion, that turnover can happen in as little as one week. Social media also supports this idea of ever-changing content, where the latest news is replaced continuously with the click of “refresh” button on a feed update. The concept of trends applies beyond the newest silhouette or the hottest ‘It’ bag — rather, trends signify a moment of change over a period of time. They are vital in igniting awareness and conversation about a particular person, place, or thing. However, trends are also, by definition, temporary. We see this in the case of endless fashion fads, and most detrimentally, in the case of social issues.
Too often social issues get picked up by hashtags, become trending topics for a few weeks, and then die down. In the case of social justice: This must change. The Black Lives Matter movement is reliant upon the public becoming informed and keeping their awareness sustained. Furthermore, we need to collectively ensure progress will be maintained in real life — not just virtually.
Our individual dedication to sustained agency contributes to the collective mindset that will create progress. There are many ways to take action now, but it’s imperative that we don’t let the fire burn out well after the BLM hashtag stops trending. With that in mind, here are five actionable steps to take offline and incorporate in the long-term.
Keep the conversation going
Don’t let the topic of racial inequality and injustice die down. Continue to do research from reputable sources, stay informed on the subject, and discuss it frequently with others. You don’t need to be an expert on every social issue, but you should know enough information to develop your own opinion and take action as you see fit. Don’t rely on others to do the work for you.
Realign your values
This is more than one-time action; it’s a change in habits. Consider this as a time to reflect on your personal values and the collective voice you are a part of. Some questions to ask yourself: Is what I’m saying online aligning with what I’m doing in real life? Am I actually supporting the movement or just liking a photo? What was the last Black-owned business I supported? Am I supporting brands that oppress Black and Brown garment workers? Find the ways in which you are called on to take action. If you are finding it difficult, you’re doing it right.
Vote by ballot and wallet
Voting inevitably supports agency. Electing appropriate officials in government is a vital component to systemic change on both the national and local levels. Political elections are held routinely, but you can take action daily by voting with your wallet. Your dollar has power – purchasing power. Use it to align with your values and the collective mission of BLM by shopping small and Black-owned businesses. Avoid supporting businesses that are social washing for profit.
Make routine donations
Continue to support organizations that advocate for racial equity on a regular basis. Donations can take on many forms. If you aren’t able to provide financial assistance, allocate time to volunteer, research, sign reputable petitions, or offer a service or platform to promote inclusivity.
Speak out against injustices in daily life
In order to sustain change it’s imperative that we change our thought patterns and behaviors. If you see something, say something. If you notice a brand is lacking diversity in their product offering or promotion? Call it out. Hear a stranger state a microaggression? Call it out. Have a friend make a racist comment in public? Call it out.
A key principal of sustainability is endurance for present and future generations. The same principals must be applied to social justice. The movement has created a lot of opportunity for systemic change which we must act upon. As other content begins to take over feeds in place of #blacklivesmatter, it is our social responsibility to pay attention to and continue to dialogue around social justice and racial equity, regardless of what hashtags are trending.