While 2016 was filled many downfalls, the biggest achievement this year brought was bringing social justice in the mainstream. From the Black Lives Matter movement, to protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, this year revolutionized what it meant to be socially aware. Social Media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr gave easy access to those who wanted to speak their minds and spread awareness. In this year alone, four out of the ten most talked about topics on twitter were centered around social justice and political issues. But what does this mean?
Giving people a platform to speak about injustice, like 2016 has, allows action to be taken. Many overlook this as a trend, something that is all talk but no action and will inevitably blow over. I disagree, however. With the use of social media to allow the silenced a voice, we have created an international movement that has swept the globe with millions of members, recognized by major political and celebrity figures. Additionally, with the aid of social media, we were not only able to spread the word about the importance of Native Americans and their land, we stopped the utter destruction of their land by a multi-million dollar oil company.
These monumental events are not simply a come and go trend. With the kind of ferocity used in 2016 to spread awareness of issues facing different groups, we can expect this trend to last well into the next five years. Making social justice mainstream has paved the way for certain unity within our country in the future. We no longer ignore the issues brought up by alienated groups, we address them. In this, we are able to fix relations that, for hundreds of years, have been abused and broken between certain groups within this country.
What we can't do, however, is stop talking. Giving voices to the previously silenced has allowed issues, that for several years have been shut down, ignored and overlooked, to arise to the surface. Getting people to talk about these injustices allows for a resolution to be reached. In order to live harmoniously with such a diverse population, we must lay all of the issues and injustices faced by the oppressed out on the table. And in 2016 we took a giant step in the right direction. If we talk, they will listen, and we must hold on to this fact in order to further progress as a country.