Viral videos of racism: how an old civil rights strategy is being used in a new digital age
After a black bird-watcher filmed a white dog-walker on May 25 calling the police on him in response to his request she obey the dog-leash laws in the Ramble woodlands area of Central Park, New York, the video went viral. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life”, Amy Cooper informed Christian Cooper (no relation) before she called 911 and made a deliberately dramatic false accusation.
Today the digital age has reduced reliance on a middleman. Smartphone technology has allowed African Americans to shine the spotlight in places camera crews would never reach. Black people can now make the rest of the world bear witness to the way racism shapes their everyday encounters.
With more and more videos of police brutality going viral over the past few years, it’s becoming easier for a new generation of activists to reframe the narrative. A report from American University’s Center for Media & Social Impact showed that the Black Lives Matter movement has begun to convince more white people to see videos of police brutality against black people not as isolated events but as evidence of ongoing injustice.