The death of Ahmaud Arbery has shocked a nation already struggling with the coronavirus pandemic. For those unfamiliar with the tragedy, Arbery was a former high school football star who was shamelessly murdered while jogging near his suburban home on the outskirts of Brunswick, Georgia.
To make the death even more outrageous, the nation later found out that the murder was yet another case of mistaken racial sterotyping and the two men involved (Travis McMichael and his sixty-four-year-old father retired officer, Gregory McMichael) claimed to have killed the unarmed Arbery because he looked “suspicious.”
A video surfaced of the incident, showing that the McMichaels’ accusations were unfounded. Arbery would have turned 26 on Friday and the hashtag #IRunWithMaud was shared thousands of times across social media, as supporters documented 2.23-mile runs and walks. Many celebrities and activists alike also began to take to social media in a show of solidarity.
Amanda Seales called out Justin Timberlake among other celebrities for turning off their comments under posts made in support of Ahmaud Arbery, suggesting that they were trying to avoid backlash from their fans.
The comment censored post of Ahmaud Arbery included a caption by Justin Timberlake that read, “If you’re not outraged, you should be. Justice for #AhmaudArbery.”
While true activism is defined as direct vigorous action especially in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue political, turning off comments is a choice that may be seen by some as a half-hearted effort.
This popular “slacktivism” is exactly what comedian Amanda Seales has pointed out. Seales also mentioned that her comments were turned off because she was “sick of fighting with racists” while other celebrities did not even begin the fight.
Seales sang a song about it over Teddy Pendergrass’ “Turn Off the Lights,” in the 3-minute video with the caption, “Dedicated to @justintimberlake and the white artists showing ‘solidarity’ posting about #ahmaudarbery but closing their comments/IG replies. Ain’t no half steppin. This is how you ally. You get in the weeds with your fans who are also fans of racist rhetoric. #TURNEMON.”
The best selling author then proceeds to sing a satirical version of the Pendergrass song beginning with “Turn on the comments, let them talk to you. It’s time to see who’s been following you”.
While a response has not been seen from Timberlake or the other unknown celebrities, some publications have shared the message while referring to Seales as an insecure star. However, other celebrities have come forward in support.
Candian singer Melanie Fiona commented, “I’m laughing and crying for a multitude of reasons. They ain’t built for the smoke sis. They just like to make s’mores round the campfire.”
Others, like Lizzo have also had viral posts explaining that “the only way that the system breaks if the people that the system is working for stop functioning in it.”