Mary Grace von Thron, Campus Carrier news editor

Berry’s Black Student Association (BSA) will host an interactive workshop featuring Instagram influencer and activist George Lee on Mar. 25.

According to his website, George Lee is a professor, facilitator and a self-described edutainer who mixes education and entertainment to be “purposely provocative.” He is currently leading the nationally renowned University of Oklahoma debate team as the Coordinator of Policy Debate while also working as a Language Arts public high school teacher in the Oklahoma City Public School District.

According to senior BSA president Rebekah Rowe, the workshop will focus on tackling systematic issues in regards to race, such as how racism influences the workforce and education.

Rowe discovered Lee’s Instagram account by happenstance.

“It was something that I had stumbled upon a couple of years ago,” Rowe said. And then my friends and I were sitting down and we’re like, oh, how cool would it be if we had him as a speaker at Berry.” 

Social media activism has been on the rise over the past decade. Social media activism first started gaining traction during the 2010 Arab Spring, a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that spread across much of the Arab world, and continued to flourish in 2013, when the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter was used for the first time. In the summer of 2020 following the death of George Floyd, that same hashtag was tweeted 47.8 million times between May 26 and June 7.

People have also used social media as a place to inform others of current events and political concepts and figures. For example, the Instagram page @soyouwanttotalkabout dissects progressive politics and social issues in graphic slideshow form. The page covers topics ranging from COVID-19 vaccines, the electoral college, and Roe v. Wade. The account provides followers with recommended readings related to the topics covered on the page and also frequently provides a list of action items for the followers of the account to engage in.

While Rowe said that activism on social media is important and can be useful in getting people’s attention on an issue, she also said that people shouldn’t only be activists on social media.

“I don’t think it should stop there,” Rowe said. “I think certain social media activism can become performative action really quickly.”

Performative action refers to activism done to increase one’s persona rather than because of one’s devotion to a cause, according to 

Rowe said that she has seen a good amount of performative activism under the guise of social media activism, such as when someone only posts something on their Instagram story or account because several other people are doing so or because it’s trendy. However Rowe said social media activism is good for amplifying voices.

While the topic of systemic racism can be uncomfortable to some, Rowe said she feels like its important for students to attend this event and expand their understanding of systematic racism in education and the workforce.

“People really should come, even if they feel as though it’s an uncomfortable topic,” Rowe said. It’s uncomfortable for everyone, but people should come and really learn and expand their knowledge and their worldview of the situation.” 

Lee’s workshop, “The Systems and Power of Intersectionality Within the Workforce and Education,” will be in the Krannert Ballroom at 6p.m. on March 25.

Students can learn more about George Lee by visiting his Instagram and TikTok page @theconsciouslee. 

Posted by Campus Carrier

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