Celebrities must use their power for real change

Michael Colton, Entertainment Columnist

Stop supporting pretend activism.

Celebrity “activism” for social and political justice has become a common occurrence, I’m sure you remember the wave of Twitter support around the Kony 2012 campaign, or Lady Gaga’s (ongoing) LGBTQ+ rights movement on social media. Awareness is a good thing, but what the celebrities, and we, the public, need to realize is that awareness does not equal change.

Many celebrities take to Twitter, Instagram or Facebook to comment on these issues, but with the power that these celebrities hold, and the prevalence of injustice, we must ask the question: why aren’t these celebrities doing more? And if, in fact, a celebrity speaks out on an issue, is it really doing anything?

An example that springs to mind is the issue of gun violence in the United States. It is no secret that our nation has an issue with guns and the senseless killings that come with a heavily armed population. In fact, according to NBC News, over 100,000 people are shot per day in America. These shocking numbers have compelled several celebrities to ‘speak out’ on the killings, whether on social media, television or through news outlets.

One such example is Kim Kardashian, America’s hundred-millionaire-reality-TV-star sweetheart. In 2015, Kardashian shared her thoughts on gun violence in the United States, claiming that “[she] is not really a gun person, and [the U.S] does not have strict enough gun control laws.” Kardashian was also quoted using the phrase, “If I could do something to change the world…” This right here is a prime example of a celebrity feigning concern about an issue. What Kardashian does not seem to realize is that she is in the possession of the two most powerful tools in today’s world: fame and money. That she does, in fact, have the power to change the world.

What more celebrities need to realize is the absolute power and influence they hold, that they have the ability to meet with the President to discuss criminal justice reform, as Chance the Rapper did earlier this year. That they can actually enter the communities of those affected by injustice or violence and reach out to those that suffer every day. In fact, as icons for the public, celebrities have a responsibility to do these things.

Activism is meant to create change, or to erase injustice, not to fabricate an image of oneself, as so many celebrities do. Celebrities have the ability to change the society that we live in, and we must begin to expect this from our pop-culture icons. Don’t worship a celebrity for tweeting about the murder rate in Chicago, demand that they actually do something. That is how change happens.