Twitter, of all social media platforms, has always been a battlefield of opinions and beliefs. The most hot-blooded debates can spark from a single offhand tweet, and before the original author knows it, it’s already too wild to fend off, and too big to take back.
That’s what Black Panther‘s Letitia Wright had to deal with when her now-deleted Twitter account posted a controversial anti-vax video last week.
Without a single annotation except for a single “praying hands” emoji, Wright shared a link to a video by YouTube channel On The Table featuring Tomi Arayomi, a speaker and senior leader with Light London Church whose lengthy commentary grilled the legitimacy of the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine. It also consisted of racist remarks towards China for setting off the pandemic, skepticism towards climate change, and transphobic comments, among others.
That tweet was the cue for the rest of Twitter to gang up on the Black Panther star.
While Wright offered a brief explanation – that she was only exercising her right to question what goes into her body – it wasn’t enough to shut the floodgate of frustrated Twitter users back up. The barrage of criticism continued, and it’s what seemed to have prompted the star to depart social media, as her Twitter account is now unavailable.
Her fellow Marvel Cinematic Universe star Don Cheadle also waded into the Twitter war shortly after the post went viral. While he was keen to defend his MCU colleague, he wasn’t as enthusiastic in justifying the video she shared, which to him sounded “crazy and f***ed up.”
Let this piece be crisp about this one: the video featuring Tomi Arayomi was hot garbage for every second and deserved to be taken off YouTube, and Wright is equally accountable for its propagation. She, with her subtle gesture, made herself just as much complicit to the video’s racism, transphobia, and prejudiced skepticism as the next person sharing it with the video’s full intent.
But hear us out: she at least deserved a more dignified discussion regarding her concern, as should be the default amid our general anxiety towards a vaccine whose efficacy has thus far been poorly communicated.
Even top medical experts and frontliners have voiced their doubts over a seemingly sped-up vaccine. But when their estimations fall through, they are still able to adjust them and apologize for them, just like what US CDC’s Anthony Fauci did.
Science is comprised of facts and facts do not lie. We should put our faith in the scientific community who’s doing their absolute best to come up with a solution, but we should also stow away just enough compassion for people like Wright who can’t take up the same level of trust right away.
Sure, having to hear from people who’s skeptical towards science is always frustrating (masks work and climate change is real, folks!), but it’s always more meaningful work to be able to tell them off rather than to just push them off the platform and out of sight.
Besides, we’re better off saving our combative energy to contest issues more institutional than interpersonal.