Black Lives Matter: More Than a Hashtag

By: Ryan Richmond

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Three years ago, roughly. That’s approximately how long ago many people will agree that the #BlackLivesMatter movement as it is known today was born. Three years ago, a young, black unarmed teen named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed while walking home from a convenience store. His killer was acquitted. Three years ago, the issues of racism and police violence took center stage in the U.S.

The Social Good Summit speakers for the Black Lives Matter session gave us some very key points to being able to fully understand the movement and it’s purpose.

#BlackLivesMatter isn’t an “either or” movement, it’s a “both, and.”

This statement, as simple as it seems, is one of the toughest obstacles that supporters of the movement face. When some individuals hear the statement, they tend to misunderstand its meaning as ONLY black lives matter. This is not the case. The African-American community is simply saying, “Your life does matter, but I want mine to matter too. I’m protesting because right now I don’t feel like it does.”

All lives matter, we know that. However, when we say, “ALL lives,” we need to mean it and it needs to be felt.

“Hash-tavism”

There is a lot of criticism about the younger generation and our use of social media as a form of activism. Some critics express that it’s a lazy alternative to physical protest. It’s important to note, however, that the advent of social media has placed the power and reach of mass communication within the hands of the average citizen in a way that it has never been before. Twitter was an instrumental tool in forcing mainstream media to cover instances of racism and police violence that had gone unreported for many years. Lending your voice, even your online voice, is one of the most important things you can do right now.

Policy and Protest

Towards the end of the session, panelists discussed how we’ve been so inundated with case after case of police violence and racism on a seemingly weekly basis, it’s easy to feel like we’re, “sick of people talking about it.”

Panelist Brittany Packnett stated that, “As much as you’re tired of hearing about it, the families that racism affects are a lot more tired of actually experiencing it.” Brittany then followed by saying, “Policy and protest go hand in hand, and the truth is important in every space.”

There is never an “appropriate” time to speak out against injustices - this is why we must always be as vocal as we can. Ours is a government of the people, for the people and by the people. It is our responsibility to make our leaders aware of the changes and policy that we want to see.

Learn about Campaign Zero, an initiative to end police violence in the United States.

 

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