You may not love Kim Kardashian for her status as a social-media influencer. You may be bored to death by Keeping Up With the Kardashians. You may reminisce about Kanye West's work before he hooked up with her. You may be #TeamTaylor. You may be totally annoyed that at the BlogHer16 conference, Kardashian said she wasn't a feminist because she doesn't believe in #freethenipple. In spite of all that, it is undeniable that there are a few social causes that she's throwing her considerable popularity behind: gun violence and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Until recently, her activism seems to have been confined to her favourite mediums: Instagram, Twitter, and her blog. We first began to notice her activism last year, after the death of Sandra Bland in Texas. Kardashian joined the many BLM activists demanding answers about what happened to the woman, who was said to have hanged herself in jail after a traffic stop. She was straightforward, emphatic, and not at all self-promotional. It was a rare thing to see Kardashian voice such a strong political opinion over anything other than the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Of course, the latter is due to her family connection to Armenia; and now, her BLM opinions are, too, as her views on these events seem to have been heightened thanks to her husband and children.
She said as much in a blog post last month after the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. "I want my children to grow up knowing that their lives matter," she wrote. "I do not ever want to have to teach my son to be scared of the police or tell him that he has to watch his back because the people we are told to trust — the people who 'protect and serve' — may not be protecting and serving him because of the color of his skin."
Anti-gun-violence group Everytown for Gun Safety took notice of Kardashian's tweets last August about a man who murdered his ex-girlfriend's family using guns and bullets he'd purchased online without a background check. Like her Sandra Bland tweets, Kardashian didn't shy away from using multiple exclamation points to emphasise her outrage.
Everytown also thanked her on Tumblr for her support of the congressional sit-in after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, FL. At some point, a relationship developed and Kardashian — joined by sisters Khloé, Kourtney, and Kendall, along with mum Kris — met with gun violence survivor group Moms Demand Action and Everytown for lunch on Friday. It is refreshing to see Kardashian take her activism offline, putting it into real-world action (though, of course, she shared the whole thing on Instagram and Snapchat).
Like her or not, Kim Kardashian has a tremendous amount of influence. She speaks to a massive audience that includes many who may not be tuned into political news. It's difficult to imagine her sitting in front of a congressional hearing or even meeting privately with lawmakers about the issues — the optics just wouldn't be advantageous for the politicians in question — but what if we saw her out on the streets during BLM protests? What if she had more than one lunch with the mums of victims and found out what they needed from her, beyond photo ops? What if she gave her millions of followers a list of the U.S. senators and representatives taking money from the NRA and got her fans to the polls in November? She might turn out to be an untapped resource of voter mobilisation.
Kim Kardashian might turn out to be the voice gun control needs.