Blue Out on Instagram: Support for Sudan through Social Media Awareness
Recently, a specific shade of blue has been popping up around Instagram in the form of profile pictures. This Blue Out was started by Instagram influencer Shahd (@hadyouatsalaam). She is a Sudanese-born, New York City-based activist—or how she likes to identify herself, “a political scientist by degree and a social media influencer by interest”, according to her recent Insta post, introducing herself to her new followers.
Shahd created this movement for the sole purpose of raising awareness to what is currently going on in Sudan. Protests in Sudan began in December of last year, when there was a price-spike in basic commodities (i.e. bread). It was not until April 11th, after a mass, multi-day sit-in, that the Sudanese people did see the change they wished for. The current President, a man named Omar al-Bashir, and his party were being jailed or put on house arrest. The protestors believed this to be a victory. They were wrong. General Awad Ibn Auf, the Vice President, soon gave a televised statement explaining the new governmental system that was going to be put in place—one run by three separate military factions called the Transitional Military Council (TMC). He stated that they intended to remain in power for two years until the country could elect a new President, also claiming a three-month state of emergency and curfew. The people did not accept these conditions and in under 24 hours, Ibn Auf resigned and General Abdelfattah al-Burhaan become the new chairman.
Since General Abdelfattah al-Burhaan’s new appointment, negotiations between the people and the TMC have been chaotic. Once again being fed up, the Sudaneese people, with the people of the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), organized a mass strike from the 28th of May to the 29th. These strikes immediately became violent and the TMC used these mass demonstrations to portray the SPA in a vicious light. On June 3rd, government forces began shooting at the protestors which, reportedly, left 118 dead and many more injured. Since then, an Internet black out has been in place and thus sparked social media outcry.
But why should this matter to us? The answer is simple: because we have the power and the privilege of accessing the Internet with the capable means of shouting loud enough that somebody will listen. Over the past two weeks, because of the uproar on social media, there have been an influx of articles written about what is going on, how long it has been going on, what is the important information that we need to know about the revolution in Sudan. One Instagram user, Rachek Cargle (@rachel,cargle), with the help of “an incredible group of activists” has even composed a masterlist of articles ranging from immediate updates to fundraising efforts, according to her post that calls for any more information to add.
Unfortunately, with the uproar, there have also been people who cruelly want to capitalize on the movement for clout reasons. Just last week, a post went viral that claimed for every re-post to a page or story, the originators of the account would donate meals to the Sudanese people. Very soon, the page was labeled as a hoax given curious peoples’ inquiries into how they would provide the food, where is the funding coming from, and other questions which the page either did not answer or gave vague responses to. From these instances, it is important to remember that when trying to get information out, there needs to be a more thorough and conscious effort on the part of other social media users to not just mindlessly click-and-post, but rather, do a quick search about what the post is, and then determine whether or not it is legitimate.
Using the privilege we have—whether it be from simply having the means to repost an article or getting in contact with local government officials so they can talk about what is going on—is a butterfly-effect that will change how the Sudanese revolution will go. Being complacent or a bystander is just as harmful as supporting the violence because inaction is not action, inaction does not bring about change but lets things remain as they are, because they are not directly affecting us. I encourage those of you reading this article to look at the Instagram influencers I have mentioned as well as the hashtag #Iamsudanrevolution. There you will find countless posts, articles, links, and organizations that can inform you, help you, and guide you on how you can help. For immediate action, check out Cargle’s post which is a picture of protestors with SUDAN in bold, blue letters and the subtitle of Information & Support Round Up. There you will find the link to the master document which will provide the beginning of any information you want to know.
I must repeat—acting as a bystander perpetuates the actions that are harming individuals because it is neglecting them the action they need. Use your privilege for something productive.
OLIVIA HAMMOND is an undergraduate at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. She studies Creative Writing, with minors in Sociology/Anthropology and Marketing. She has travelled to seven different countries, most recently studying abroad this past summer in the Netherlands. She has a passion for words, traveling, and learning in any form.