What Can You Do About Ferguson? #WeCareAboutFerguson Helping Generate Support for People of Ferguson
Late last nght, just hours after Michael Brown was laid to rest in St.Louis, Elon James White, CEO of This Week In Blackness, a pupular network of sites focused on issues that affect the black community, recieved a tweet from someone saying that the Ferguson story was, essentially, buried along with him. Going by the handle "@lebanon_levi," the user tweeted to White, "@elonjames Nobody cares about Ferguson anymore. Your 15 minutes of fame are over."
After replying with, "Word," White started the hashtag #WeCareAboutFerguson to galvanize support for the people in Ferguson, Mo., who are left to deal with the trauma and aftermath of Brown's death and the ensuiing police crackdown. It would go on to trend nationally.
"There need to be more conversations about the people who are down there and that they need support," White told AlterNet.
Indeed, conversations over how to best help organizations in Ferguson have complimented news coverage and social media chatter. The Huffington Post published a piece detailing how people can help, be it through financial donations, educational assistance, mental health counseling and other means. Yesterday, the West Virginia Univeristy community held a vigil in solidarity with Ferguson. The Daily Kos listed some initiatives taking place in the St. Louis suburb for people to consider as well.
White, who spent a week and a half in Ferguson, said that people have to be proactive in their desires to help and that no one can do all of the legwork for them.
"People say, 'Just tell me what to do.' I'm like, well, I can't tell you what to do," he said. "I need you to do a little bit of research and take a little bit of time and find out what's happening. 'What are the needs down there?' Find out organizations down there and ask, 'What do you need?' 'How can I help in my space to help you guys."
How to give and to whom does one give, be it money, time or digital activism, is a very personal choice. Examples of how people care about Ferguson and what they are doing to show support can be found in the #WeCareAboutFerguson hashtag. Some users showed their solidarity by tweeting about police-involved shootings where unnecessary force was suspected. Twitter user "Auntie Di" tweeted "
#WeCareAboutFerguson and I will meet with local community leaders this week to discuss plans to dismantle White Supremacy."
AlterNet receltly wrote about #BlackTwitter and the practical power behind hashtag activism. #WeCareAboutFerguson is no different. What began as a response to a rude Twitter user further expanded on what White and other Black media professionals have been doing for weeks: spreading awareness about Ferguson. Moreover, in less than 24 hours, the hashtag has already lead to more discussions on how people can let the citizens of Ferguson know that they have not been forgotten.
"People across the world were sending in pictures with "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" from Gaza to Australia. This is a big deal. That's an example of showing support," he said. "Organizing in your own space shows support. Organizing rallies and protests shows that you care about Feguson. It says what happened in Ferguson will not happen again and we will not let this happen in our own spaces, either. It's not easy and it's not building blocks. You have to figure out what you're comfortable. That's what's required."