What started as a high school social media trend and turned into a nationwide fad, embraced by pro sports teams, celebrities, musicians and even Hillary Clinton has now been used in a controversial, powerful video in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Mannequin Challenge has swept through Instagram and Twitter in the past few weeks, with participants filming scenes full of people standing still in a variety of outlandish poses. Clinton’s presidential campaign, attempting to reach out to millennial voters, filmed their own version on the plane of the Democratic nominee the night before Tuesday’s election.
But that video, which included Clinton, her husband Bill Clinton, campaign manager John Podesta and musician and campaign surrogate Jon Bon Jovi, is no longer the most political of the social media phenomenon.
Actor, director and social media star Simone Shepard tweeted out a video Wednesday night with the caption, “#mannequichallenge #blackandblue #BlackLivesMatter.”
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The video, which has since been retweeted nearly 24,000 times and liked 28,000 times on Twitter and viewed nearly 100,000 times on Instagram as of Thursday night, is one minute long and depicts scenes of police brutality and racial profiling, with white police officers pointing guns or grappling with black men and women. Audio clips of some of the most infamous scenes of such instances, including the deaths of Philando Castle, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling and Trayvon Martin, as well as that of a beating heart, play over the images.
The video then transitions to scenes of Black Lives Matter activists raising their fists in solidarity against racial injustice, while an excerpt from Malcolm X’s speech “By Any Means Necessary” plays. The video also depicts a man in a Colin Kaepernick jersey kneeling, a nod to the San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s protest during the national anthem that has generated controversy. The clip ends with the heartbeat flat-lining while a crowd of people stand with either their fists raised or their hands raised in the air, a reference to the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Shepherd told TIME that the video was developed in conjunction with the upcoming film “Black in Blue” about African-American police officers. While Shepherd has been mostly known for her humorous Vine posts, she said she wanted to use the the viral social media fad to make an important point about an issue that matters deeply to her.
“Black Lives Matter is an issue that’s important to me,” she said. “I felt that it was important to make sure that people didn’t forget those moments using this very viral movement that’s happening with the mannequin challenge.”
Unsurprisingly, the video has generated controversy of its own, with many social media users praising it for using a facetious phenomenon to make a serious point about race relations, while others have criticized it for politicizing a light-hearted trend.