Injustice is constantly in our faces. It is on our screens, our phones and always just a scroll away. It is chronicled incessantly via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and seems to rack up the ratings on TV. Sometimes the people we look up to—i.e. the famous names we follow—are actual deliverers of news. Their platforms have been pivotal in educating people on issues and problems affecting the world. In fact, the opinions coming from stars on social media has become so pervasive that we actually question and critique how they respond to tragedy.
Actress Mischa Barton was criticized for posting a “heartbroken” call for “unity” while posing in a bikini on a yacht following the shooting death of Alton Sterling. Superstar Jennifer Lopez was blasted for hash tagging #AllLivesMatter on Instagram, and in the case of Nicki Minaj, countless LGBTQ+ fans were disappointed she didn’t comment on the Orlando shooting. The expectations we have of today’s idols and icons seems extraordinary.
However, if Women’s and LGBTQ+ communities—and Black Lives Matter—has taught us anything, it is that ambivalence does nothing for progress. Keeping politely quiet saves an actor or singer from polarizing their fans (a.k.a less sales/likeability) but when they choose to not comment or shed light on certain world issues surrounding humanity, they are perceived as irresponsible.
Here are just a handful of stars who have used social media to show where they stand on matters that mean something to them.
— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) February 29, 2016
Knowing his social media draw has the power to generate more than 440,000 tweets per minute, the Titanic/Revenant star used a tweet after his Oscar win to address environmental concerns. After thanking the Academy, DiCaprio pressed send for the sake of mother earth.
How many more times must this happen for us to matter? How many more must we lose?
BLACK. LIVES. MATTER. #AltonSterling
— Zendaya (@Zendaya) July 6, 2016
Whether she’s retweeting heartbreaking truths about young women and rape (#BrockTurner), standing up to racist fashion police commentators or defending her gay fans against trolls—Zendaya is on it. Her feed reflects the talented young singer-actor’s point of view and exposes her political leanings in a no-holds-bar way.
No stranger to controversy, Dunham’s writing on HBO’s Girls proves she’s a ginsu-sharp commentator who is adept at tackling today’s most messed up problems—especially when it comes to inequality. Her instagram and twitter accounts are a combo of soap-box and stage. The platforms allow her to publicly expresses her opinion/outrage on rape, abortion legislation, body shaming, and her recent love of LeanIn
Rest in peace to the officers whose lives were senselessly taken yesterday in Dallas. I am praying for a full recovery of the seven others injured. No violence will create peace. Every human life is valuable. We must be the solution. Every human being has the right to gather in peaceful protest without suffering more unnecessary violence. To effect change we must show love in the face of hate and peace in the face of violence.
As if the politically charged choruses off Lemonade’s pivotal track, “Freedom”, weren’t enough to sound the equality alarm, Queen B recently used her instagram and twitter accounts as a way to deliver a tribute to five policemen who were murdered at the end of an otherwise peaceful Black Lives Matters protest in her hometown of Dallas, Texas.
A photo posted by champagnepapi (@champagnepapi) on
The Toronto rapper was quick to post a picture of the Eiffel Tower to his 22 million-plus Insta-followers after the Paris terrorist attacks but has curiously said nothing about the Orlando massacre, or gun control (even Justin Bieber acknowledged the shooting in a Florida gay nightclub). The rapper has also stayed silent during the6ix’s recent Pride celebrations (as well as the important Black Lives Matter demonstration it spurred), but Mr. ChampagnePappi did write an open letter to his fans after discovering that Alton Sterling—an unarmed 37-year-old African American man—was killed by two white police officers in Baton Rouge this month.
Pope Francis: Catholic Church ‘must ask forgiveness’ of gay people: ‘Who are we to judge?’ https://t.co/OLqHfhd8dx
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) June 28, 2016
Whether its hash tagging for the Climate Change Revolution or calling out the Catholic Church for various issues they have with women, the LGBTQ+ community and their own scandals (also pushed in his star turn as reporter in Spotlight), Ruffalo uses his platforms (all the usuals and snapchat) to ensure he is politically on the job.
— ErykahBadoula (@fatbellybella) July 8, 2016
She rejoiced on twitter when actor Jessie Williams spoke about Black oppression in America and Badu was one of the first celebs to use #StayWoke in an effort to let her fans know they must keep informed and alert when it comes to injustices. More recently she used twitter to combat her critics/trolls dead on. She speaks directly to those with opposing views or anti-feminist sentiments. Badu also announced she will donate proceeds from a concert in Detroit to help fund the processing of more than 1,000 rape kits found in a Michigan warehouse that have remained unchecked and still require proper examination (each one costs $490).
Her fight against HIV/AIDS has been meticulously chronicled on Facebook, as has her involvement in countless charities that aim to empower and educate women in underprivileged circumstances. The former Eurythmics front woman and fashion disrupter regularly tweets about her trips to South Africa (and rarely mentions her past music triumphs). She also launched a social media-run “Sing” campaign which, to date, has amassed major dollars for a fight against a pandemic that she all but left her solo music career to address.
She was one of the first major stars of her magnitude to tweet about banning guns in America. She’s also been known to retweet other advocates who articulate their opinions on issues as diverse as women’s liberation to the importance of GLBTQ Pride. Note: she’s a huge Hilary Clinton supporter.
IM SICK OF?ASSHOLE
LGBT COMMUNITY??KICK HIS HUGE,INSANE,RACIST BUTT 2THE CURB‼️?TRUMP ONLY CARES 4?TRUMP &VOTES‼️
— Cher (@cher) June 22, 2016
The fashion and music icon has had it with Donald Trump. Had it. So many of her dramatically-capitalized and emoji’d tweets annihilate the reality star/presumptive nominee of the Republican Party for president of the United States and unveil what kind of unsavory business he is up to. She has also talked about the Flint Water Crisis in Michigan and women’s reproductive rights. Some of her tweets are hilarious, some are wacky and cryptic but many some speak to the diva’s strong beliefs.
She’s always championed women in her lyrics (“This Girl Is On Fire” and “Woman’s Worth”) and tributed the great legacy of African American soul legends in so much of what she does (she’s dueted with Whitney Houston, Roberta Flack and dozens of other historic voices) offline and online but her social media game as of late has been socially-charged. Of greatest note is a project she just put together by her foundation called We Are Here. It is a shareable movie which is called 23 Ways You Could Be Killed If You Are Black in America and has fellow singers such as Pharrel Williams, Beyoncé and Rihanna reading out one of many ways that African Americans have been killed by the police.
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