#Blacklivesmatter and #backtheblue started with good enough intentions. But in our efforts to unite under a single cause, all we've done is further ourselves from unity.
I left Los Angeles to visit my family in Florida (unfortunately) on Wednesday the 6th. BY the time I got home, just four days later, America was already a different and darker place. Being from both Los Angeles and Florida I started to see a surge of two very different hashtags following long Facebook rants after the events in Dallas.
#blacklivesmatter & #backtheblue
While these hashtags have good intentions and meanings behind them, they quite frankly aren’t working. The hashtags started as a way to bring awareness to two very significant causes regarding equality and life but in the past week, all they've really brought awareness to is how easy it is to unfriend someone on your social media platforms. We think we're doing something to further the cause when we punch these little texts into the end of our online speeches. What's worse is we'll condemn you if you post the "wrong" hashtag, and believe me there is a wrong hashtag depending on where you're posting from. Oh and don't think for a second that you can quietly log in and out of your profile without saying something because if you don't choose a hashtag you will be unfriended and ostracized. My anger and desperation were on full display at the dinner table while scrolling through the endless void of rants and manifestos. How could this generation, a generation that has all the answers at their fingertips, a generation I am very much a part of, miss the point so much? I skimmed through arguments where someone tried to link the dismissal of #blacklivesmatter to all disease's mattering? Another person attempting to rope the LGBTQ community into the tragedy by making the outrageous and offensive claim that Orlando police officers may have killed a "majority" of the victims in the Pulse nightclub trying to detain to the shooter. Adding these ridiculous comments and complications are only muddying already murky waters. It's easy to get angry at these "online crusaders" but the truth is we're all just trying to be heard amongst the chaos, to make a push for change the best way we know how and that's through social media. But these hashtags have done nothing but become a very passive aggressive way to “show what side you’re on,” and that's really what this has been about for past week/month/year/decades. What side are you on? And if it's not mine, then shut up and leave. It’s the kind of ironic you could only hope for in the most biting of social satires. In a time when we desperately need to join together, we've made sure to distance and distinguish ourselves from each other with stupid and at this point meaningless keystrokes.
“We have separated. We have broken into tribes. We must move beyond that.” — LAPD Chief Charlie Beck
What needs to happen for all of us to recover as a nation is simple. Powerful leaders, ambassadors, and icons from both communities need to come together in public and have an open dialogue. Snoop Dogg and The Game (the two most surprising and badass examples I could ever think of, which is probably what makes it all the more powerful) did just that by attending the LAPD’s graduation ceremony in downtown Los Angeles this week. These two men swallowed their pride and potentially their integrity for a far greater cause. But that’s what pride and integrity really are. Sacrificing yourself, even if it’s just a part of yourself, for a greater good. If the LAPD desired the same thing they would peacefully attend events in the black community in the following weeks. Where social media comes in, the only place it should really come in is as a tool to spread the word and images across the nation and world as an example of what progress looks like.
- Th Game's call for peace and unification posted on his Instagram.
The movement on July 8th was something that restored my pride in this country and gave me hope that we don’t have to keep fighting this internal battle. It made me feel like I might have the chance to meet people I otherwise wouldn't have. It made me feel safe again, not because I'm scared of the black community but because I'm fearful of the anger and despair of all parties and the repercussion their actions could bring. This isn’t about who’s wrong and who’s right. It’s not about who’s been wrong or right in the past because we're all to blame. It’s about doing the right thing now which is joining together. Unfortunately, I’m not naive enough to truly believe these issues will ever fully be laid to rest but now more than ever is a time when we have to try, really try, to quell them. People need to lift their faces from their computer and phone screens and start making a real effort. Not with a quick keystroke of jumbled unspaced letters that leads to an aggressive online argument, but by walking out into the streets, in front of the faces of other American’s, and talking to each other. So I’m not going to end this with a hashtag because this issue is far bigger than a hashtag could ever convey. It’s far more significant and lasting than a meaningless Facebook rant. It’s far more coherent than the ridiculous analogies we’ve been trying to link to it. I think we need to start treating it as such.