People from around the world took to social media and other outlets to express support and sympathy for the horrible tragedy which occurred on Friday night in Paris. French President Francois Hollande declared a nationwide state of emergency and shut down metro stations and closed borders after the violent terrorist attack claimed the lives of more than 150 people in the country’s capital. This became the perfect time for humanity to come together with worldwide vigils and symbols of love, but somehow people were angered by the amount of attention the crisis gained. When did support for tragic events become a contest?
It is indeed a sad day in society when people feel supporting one tragedy takes away from another. Many reports surfaced surrounding activists who claimed a racial injustice had occurred when the media shifted its focus to cover the deadly terrorist attacks. Allegedly, Paris had stolen their spotlight. Mizzou and Black Lives Matter protesters claimed their racial oppression struggles were being “erased” by the huge amount of attention the French capital received. One Twitter user posted:
Racist white people kill me, you want everyone to have sympathy for YOUR tragedy, but you have none for ours. #Mizzou
In response to the massive amount of cries on social media, the University of Missouri released a statement to calm the masses. Many tweets surfaced which seemed to turn the support for these tragic events into a contest when the fact is “all lives matter.” The college released a statement to advise its followers that the tweets of comparison originated from “individuals from outside the Mizzou community in an attempt to create conflict.” The declaration read:
Our hearts go out to the citizens of Paris and all those affected by the tragic events of last night,” the university said. “While our community has faced difficulties over the past week, we express our sincere sympathy to those who have been affected by the events in Paris and remain committed to making Mizzou stronger and more inclusive.
In the wake of the terrorist attack, many Facebook users showed their support by changing their profile picture to include the French flag. The social media platform’s decision to craft a way for people to unite in the face of such a horrible event caused additional outrage. Many people were angered and said Facebook was “ranking injustice” by alluding that this one particular instance is more important than the host of other tragedies occurring in the world.
The question remains, “When did support for tragic events become a contest?” A prominent civil rights activist, DeRay McKesson, tweeted that injustice has no rank order and added:
We fight for #Mizzou, #PrayForParis, and seek justice for #SandraBland — at the same time.
The world has again diverted from the real issue at hand. It is not that people care more about France, but Paris, just as New York, is a popular tourist destination. When the United States was hit on 9/11, the world came together in support and solidarity. Why? Because a tragic event occurred which affected people around the globe. Other horrible incidents were occurring simultaneously, even then, but the focus remained primarily on the Twin Towers and the multitude of lost lives. At that time, however, it seemed perfectly acceptable for the world to mourn in singular fashion because support for tragic events had not yet become a contest.
the fact is, all lives matter and instead of calling it a disparity, people must understand that it does not take away from one tragedy if others choose to focus on another. Just because a Facebook option does not exist to show support for the bombings which recently occurred in Lebanon, the victims in Kenya or the thousands of civilians who have become victimized by the ongoing Syrian Civil War, people should not feed hindered from taking their own initiative to bring awareness to those devastating events.
Support for tragic events is not a contest and no one should be judged because they choose to highlight one or the other. The violent terrorist attack in Paris is no more important than other instances of innocent lives being taken around the world. However, before getting angry about which story the media chooses to focus on, everyone should ensure they are doing their part to help to bring peace to a world filled with strife, tragedy, and chaos. After all, it is not a contest, is it?
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
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Inside Image Courtesy of The Happy Rower – Flickr License
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