Digital activism replacing marches and rallies in Houston - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Digital activism replacing marches and rallies in Houston

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

Among those who marched in Houston for Trayvon Martin was Harolyn Graves.

"It hurts like hell that someone can get off from killing an unarmed teenager," said Graves.

She was committed enough to the cause that she wanted her kids to witness and to learn.

"I brought both of my daughters and my son. It's not right. I'm marching for them and for the other teenagers their age," said Graves.

But when you add up those who marched on Sunday, rallied at Houston City Hall on Saturday, demonstrated for abortion rights ten days ago and immigration reform this morning - the total combined participation doesn't come close to attendance at a single Katy High school football game.

And while events like Race for the Cure or the MS 150 routinely draw five figure crowds folks here are far less motivated to publicly fight for social and political change.

Activist Quanell X has a theory.

"If they didn't have fear of retaliation in the workplace you would see many more hundreds and thousands in the 4th largest city in America taking part in protests," he said.

But others believe there's a better explanation - the decision by a rapidly growing number to conduct their activism on line.

"Why would you want to go sit out in the hot sun when you can sit at home and do this on your computer?," explained University of Houston sociologist Luis Salinas.

Salinas says the insulation and relative comfort of social media has provided millions of Americans with an alternative to old fashioned, in person political activity.

"The word is 'slacktivist' where somebody is just clicking on 'like' or retweeting something and that person really thinks they are really active in the issue. Doing it in person requires so much more effort so much more commitment in a certain sense," said Salinas.

But when it comes to fighting for causes what Salinas sees as a digital half measure has the clear momentum to become the norm.

Even Quanell X believes marches are being rendered obsolete.

"20 or 25 years from now protests may not even take to the streets anymore. It may take a different form. You may see multiple protests in social media, but you will see very few in the streets," said the veteran activist.

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