How a 20-year-old Jackson activist is using social media to promote change
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Maisie Brown has never had a problem speaking up.
It’s safe to say that her passion for speaking on issues that matter has landed her the designation as one of Jackson’s most prominent modern-day activists.
At the age of 15, Brown found herself at the epicenter of change when she published an article calling for the removal of the controversial Mississippi flag. Since then, the Jackson native has served as an archetype for the power of change. Specifically with how a younger generation has mustered up the courage to call upon change, garnering the support of millions, many of which they’ve never seen in person.
Like many who have dreamed of making tangible and sustainable change, Maisie experimented with different tactics to see which would be most effective. The strategy that she decides to keep close in her arsenal? Social media.
This may seem obvious, as Maisie grew up in a “camera eats first” generation. However, Maisie believes that social media is a powerful tool for advocating for change, so why not use it to her advantage?
“If my kids at work need something, if they’re organizing, if they need something, I can reach out on social media and have an answer by tomorrow,” Maisie says as she explains how she’s used social media in her role as Youth Program Director & Communications Associate for the Institute for Democratic Education in America.
Maisie’s Twitter is filled with many things ranging from her gratitude towards SZA’s newest release to calling attention to the stigma around mental health issues. Whether it’s a musing on pop culture or a stance on a hot button issue, Maisie has no problem letting her news feed know what’s on her mind.
And when she talks, people listen. Maisie has amassed a Twitter following with over 7,000 followers. She uses this platform to become vocal about the many issues that affect the country, but the Capitol City specifically.
However, there was one problem that a Twitter user felt like Maisie wasn’t being vocal about. One they thought that she wasn’t taking an active part in: Jackson’s crime issue.
The user tweeted Maisie, asking that as Jackson hit a record number of homicides, why were there no “Black Lives Matter protests and riots.”
“Where is all the George Floyd ENERGY at? You know what group shot these BLACK FOLKS!”
And to that, Maisie responded with a simple gif of Nene Leakes.
While many see Maisie as one of the many faces of change in Jackson, she e
“This is something that we really need to talk about,” Maisie explains.
“So many people are like ‘why aren’t we having protests and rallies for the Black on Black crime in Jackson?’ "
Maisie ,20, begins to explain that the term “Black on Black Crime” is a phrase that is used to insinuate that Black people killing other Black people is a phenomenon.
“If you look at statistics and numbers, people kill who they live around, and most of the time, people kill their own race.”
In explaining that she believes that the term is used to make Black people believe that homicides are only happening amongst themselves in their community, she identifies a problem that she believes differentiates how Black and white people approach crime.
“When a Black person kills a Black person, and they know who did it, that Black person is going to jail. When white police officers, or even police officers in general, kill unarmed civilians, there is not a 100% chance that officer is going to jail. And that’s the problem we’re protesting against time and time again,” Maisie stated.
“When we kill each other, we know we’re going to jail. But when they kill us, we don’t know if they’re going to jail, and justice may not be served.”
Maisie also stresses how important it is to not deduce the instances and prevalence of crime in poverty-stricken communities, poorly educated communities, and communities that don’t have access to adequate and equitable healthcare.
“These are all different factors that people like to ignore because they like to say ‘they just need to stop shooting each other,’ "
Maisie has identified several resources and solutions that she believes will not necessarily absolve Jacksonians from experiencing crime but help them to better understand the role that many factors play in increased crime rates.
One of the themes she believes plays an active role in crime is the institution of white supremacy; however, she is quick to note that while she has a passion for education, it is not her responsibility to teach someone how to “not be racist.”
“I am not here to tell white people why racism is bad. I am so past that point in my life to where I feel like I have to explain why something is objectively wrong. I tell people that there are so many books, the internet is free, and there’s too much information for you to believe it is Black people’s responsibility to explain why you don’t need to be racist,” Maisie explains.
“It’s too much of a burden, and it is not my burden.”
Maisie is firm in her belief that it is not her duty to educate people on how to denounce anti-racist tendencies. However, she is also confident in what her objective is.
She wants to create a name for herself and what she does outside of a man or the “underpinnings of anything.”
“My objective is to take the initiative of being the full force in the forefront of what’s happening while also elevating the stories historically of women who have taken the initiative throughout history.”
Maisie is a history major, meaning she has spent numerous hours studying outstanding women throughout history and examining their contributions. In doing so, she realizes that she must flip the narrative that the accomplishments and accolades of women are subpar compared to the men who have national holidays named after them.
One of the essential pieces that Maisie has found in her educational and advocacy journey is “The 1619 Project,” an initiative from The New York Times Magazine that aims to reframe America’s history by examining the effects of slavery and contributions of Black people.
Maisie saw that a 1619 Freedom School had been chartered in Iowa. It was not long before Maisie began to share her vision for what she refers to as a “1619-ish” literary center for Jackson on Twitter.
“In a historical place like Mississippi, why are there not places across this state that are dedicated to increasing literacy, that is dedicated to a sustainable model of literacy using the lens of Black history, which was largely created in Mississippi.”
“So many of the civil rights legends that we know of, so many of the people who played a pivotal role in why we are who we are today came right here from Mississippi. Black children here don’t know about it, and too many Black children don’t know how to read. So why not put the two together?”
While examining the need for this problem to be remedied in the Black community, Maisie also points out that other people should use the plethora of resources available to educate themselves.
“We ALL need to learn Black History,” Maisie explains.
“Black history is American history. We like to make the two mutually exclusive. America is not America without us, so why do we teach it as such?”
Maisie comes from a long line of educators in her family. Her passion for education for not just herself, but for those around her was instilled in her from a young age. However, she learned to value education under a new scope when her mother informed her that she did not have a college fund for her.
The reason wasn’t that her mother did not have the money or the resources, but it was because her mother knew what Maisie could accomplish.
As a result, Maisie saw how vital and transformative education is. She demonstrated her commitment to education by graduating from high school and is now working to become a college-trained woman. However, her efforts to use her platform to call for better education for generations coming before her shows the power that education exudes outside of the classroom.
“I know the ways in which education has fully allowed me to express myself and allowed me to learn about so many different things had I not known about if I didn’t take the opportunity to expand my education. Education is extremely powerful, and too many of our kids are getting the short end of the stick.”
Copyright 2021 WLBT. All rights reserved.