By: Joey Chesir  | 

How Not to Solve Social Issues

In recent years, so-called “social issues” have become prominent in the American news cycle. These issues, which include acts of racism performed against minorities, and incidents of sexism directed at members of opposing genders, have received much media attention and have been cited by politicians, celebrities, journalists and common citizens alike as being highly important.

Discussion of social issues increased dramatically in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting in 2012, the shootings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown in 2014, and more recently, the shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling earlier this year.  In all of these incidents, many claimed that race played a factor in the victims being shot, and that those who initiated these incidents used excessive force on the victims. Additionally, many citizens asserted these incidents were examples of systemic flaws in American law enforcement, and sparked significant backlash throughout the country. Groups like Black Lives Matter aggressively protested in response to these incidents, and a number of police officers were assaulted in what appeared to be retaliatory attacks.

Social issues are now in the public eye, and many are demanding injustices be curtailed and corrected. Citizens have attempted to combat these issues in various ways, including discussing these issues, protesting in response to specific incidents, or posting on social media. However, in order to make a significant difference towards the solution of social issues, citizens need to recognize that only actions focused on solving social issues will be beneficial towards solving them, and that merely discussing, publicizing, or protesting these issues will be of little assistance to those suffering from them.

For many citizens, incidents of police violence were highly inflammatory, and many desired a way to help end incidents of possible police brutality, or any other episode that potentially involved racism. A number of famous citizens used various methods to spread a message of protest, including NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s famous refusal to stand during the recitation of the national anthem before a game. Other citizens posted on social media in response to these incidents, often using the famous hashtag #BlackLivesMatter to show their support for the African-American cause. These actions were certainly made with proper intentions, which were obviously to help end racism in American society. However, it is important to recognize that technically speaking, the implementation of social justice in America is not any closer to being realized after a multitude of social media posts, or if a famous athlete kneels during the national anthem, because these problems do not technically address social issues in any way, even if they’re meant to express “support”.

It is a huge misconception among American citizens that showing “support” for one cause or another is in any way helpful towards the furthering of the interest of that cause.

Social issues are, without question, a major problem in America that plague many citizens, and we should certainly be attempting to take any possible measure in order to fix them. Showing “support” on behalf of the victims may seem like a way for citizens to contribute on their behalf, but ultimately,  doing so does not in any way benefit the victims or help solve social issues.

If there are people in America suffering from racism, the fact that Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem does not in any way remedy their situation, and whatever racism they are forced to deal with will continue as it did beforehand. In fact, it can be argued that Kaepernick’s charitable donation of $1 million to organizations attempting to combat racial injustice made a much more significant impact on the solving of racial issues than his national anthem protest, which garnered far more attention and media coverage. Money can be used to actually provide assistance to victims of racism, in ways that are actually tangible, while kneeling during the national anthem simply “sparks discussion”.  “Discussion” is simply not a helpful tool that can be used to solve any issue, regardless of those issues involve racism or sexism, and only involves the acquisition of attention.

The problem with merely discussing, publicizing, or posting in regards to an issue is not that they are made with poor intentions, because they are intended to be helpful. The problem is that discussing, publicizing, or posting about issue often reinforces the delusion that doing so actually makes a difference in terms of solving the issue in question. When someone posts on social media in regards to social issues (or any other issue), they often feel that they have made a positive impact on the issue, and that they are helping to fix it. This notion is simply incorrect. The biggest issue with this misconception is that the victims of racism or sexism, who actually require assistance, are going to continue suffering from these problems, while citizens who can help are instead deluding themselves about the importance of merely talking about these issues, instead of actually making a contribution.

It is always important, when attempting to solve any issue, to comprehend that action and discussion are by definition, two different things. We will never solve social issues, or any other societal problem, if we pretend that it is enough to have “conversations” about these problems, because nothing is accomplished by talking alone. Active participation in democracy is one of many ways  in which citizens can attempt to assist those suffering from social issues. It will be necessary to utilize tools such as this in order to actually make a positive impact on the solving of social issues in the future.

Historically, civil rights activists such as Martin Luther King and Susan B. Anthony were instrumental in solving social injustices being performed against African Americans and women, respectively. It is important to recognize that both of these figures made an impact by doing more than merely discussing the issues which they attempted to fix. Because of the contributions of Martin Luther King and other civil rights activists, segregation and other racist practices were ended in the South of the United States. Women’s rights activists such as Susan B. Anthony were instrumental in acquiring the right to vote for women, which was one of the turning points in the treatment of women in American society. For both King and Anthony, the actions of accomplishments of both ultimately cemented their legacies as civil rights activists. In modern times, it is important to acknowledge that citizens will not perform similar accomplishments on behalf of victims of social issues if they believe that merely disseminating these issues will make an impact to the same degree of the actions of King and Anthony.

In order to solve social issues, citizens need to comprehend that merely discussing these issues is not adequate in terms of making a positive impact on behalf of the victims. Citizens should attempt to make a contribution towards the solving of social issues by utilizing any of the methods available in the 21st century to do so. Social issues, just like any other societal problem, can only be solved by actions in response to them, instead of mere discussion.