DESTA discusses the influence of social media on African Americans
Dare Every Soul to Achieve (DESTA), a non-profit organization in the Montreal area, held a “Real Talk”—an open discussion, on Oct. 18 to discuss the social and psychological impacts of social media on the black community.
“Sometimes people say to me: ‘I don’t see colour, I see you for who you are,’” said Zeinab Kahera, a DESTA volunteer who led the open discussion. “When people say this to me, they are erasing who I am—I am a person of colour.”
The increase of images depicting violence and death of African Americans on social media has expanded exposure to content of this nature and it has transformed into an unfortunate norm, said Kahera.
The group discussed how they felt affected by the increase of social media exposure regarding black deaths and violent viral videos of police brutality against African Americans. Some participants talked about different strategies for coping with racism on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr.
“The first thing people do when they wake up, even before they have eaten breakfast, drank coffee or gotten out of bed, is check their phone and scroll through their Facebook timeline,” said a participant. “The pictures we see or the racist comments we read on social media therefore affect our whole entire day.”
The group also discussed how videos posted on social media of police brutality and shootings of African Americans—including Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota—have influenced their day-to-day lives and strengthened the reality of racism.
“Social media has desensitized and dehumanized so many of us from these brutal attacks on African Americans,” a participant said. “Social media has completely disconnected us with what is happening in the U.S.”
Other participants voiced how there is real racism in Montreal and how under-acknowledged it is.
“In Montreal, we learn from a young age that we have it a lot better than people south of the border. However the reality is, racism exists here as well,” said a member of the group.
“There have been an increasing amount of people who have been recorded to have symptoms similar to PTSD, as a direct response from these violent videos,” said Kahera. “We need to advocated for support and victimization for African Americans.”
DESTA organizes monthly Real Talks to provide a safe environment where members of the black community can freely discuss issues that impact their daily lives. The organization offers a variety of programs and services for marginalized youth such as an after-school program for students and tutoring services, according to their website.
The organization welcomes Concordia students to participate in the Real Talk discussions and other DESTA services.
DESTA’s mission is to help mentor Montreal youth and provide them the resources to strengthen their identity, promote a excellence in marginalize youth and empower young adults to succeed, according to their website.
DESTA has asked that members of the discussion remain anonymous due to the touchy nature of the subjects discussed. We have left their names out to maintain a safe environment where they can talk openly.