How to Honor Tyre Nichols

A Lesson from the Black Lives Matter movement

Luella Schmidt

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Tyre Nichols was beaten to death by Memphis police for an alleged traffic violation in January. He was 29. There is video of the beating, which I refuse to watch or link to in this space.

Instead, I want to tell you about something I learned from the Black Lives Matter movement in the months after George Floyd’s murder.

Tyre Nichols, in a photo provided by his family. He loved photography. “My vision is to bring my viewers deep into what I am seeing through my eye and out through my lens,” Nichols wrote. “People have a story to tell, why not capture it.”

I was running my business then, so my media at the time was heavily skewed toward business-related topics. There were many headlines about how businesses were responding to the increased awareness. I read a stream of stories about how businesses were changing hiring policies, adding diversity language to their ecosystems, and making leadership changes to meet the moment.

Among this advice, I also stumbled upon more personal guidance. It was so simple.

Deliberately fill your feed with more Black voices.

There were numerous articles at the time with lists of popular accounts of Black Americans and what each person was into, so you could follow people who shared a passion of yours. Here’s an example.

My social media of choice is Twitter, so I spent a fun afternoon back in 2020 following random people from these lists. I remember so distinctly deriding myself about it. In the face of such painful injustice, I felt moved to do something, and this surely seemed pathetic and small.

It is not pathetic and it is not small. It is effective.

Listen, I’m a middle-aged white woman who has lived in the Great Lakes area my whole life. I want to understand what the world is like, as clearly as I possibly can, not just my own slice of it. I also love other people’s stories. It’s why I love writing and reading. Surrounding myself with more diverse stories in my social media feeds these last two years has made me a better writer.

It is the single easiest way to grow as a human. We spend a lot of time lamenting the social media age, but it’s not without its benefits. You have the power to craft your information space. Make it meaningful. Make anywhere you spend time, meaningful.

I’m sure you’ve heard that if you want to be successful, you should surround yourself with successful people. If you want to be kind, you should surround yourself with kind people. If you want a meaningful life, you should surround yourself with all the diversity our world has to offer. Our simultaneous diversity and sameness, together, hold the very meaning of life. It is why it is so fun to explore for the short time we are on this Earth.

In honor of Tyre and his grieving family and friends, I ask you to use your power, reader, to make your spaces meaningful.

Peace.

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Luella Schmidt

Writer ✱ Creator ✱ Entrepreneur. I write about history, politics, & justice ♥ and the Top 100 albums, movies, & novels. ♥ luellaschmidt.com ♥ Peace ♥