Welcome to Poplitickal!
The thoughts of a Neo-Pagan, Pop Culture loving geek, avid reader, and political junkie. Smush all that together and stir and you get Poplitickal, a spicy stew that doubles as a floor wax.
Hashtags. A phenomenon started by Twitter users, that has blossomed into an omnipresent part of our daily cyber lives. Hashtags can be used as a way of bringing attention to important things. They can be used as a way of showing solidarity. They also sometimes can be a bone of contention. Some times one group of people will start using a hashtag, and another group will disagree about its use, and come up with a counter tag. That is the bare bones situation regarding the competing hashtags, #blacklivesmatter versus #alllivesmatter. The former started to show up in tweets and facebook posts regarding the horrifying injustices perpetrated against black communities in Ferguson, and New York, when young men of color were murdered by the police and ultimately nothing was done about it. It was a rallying cry, a bold statement by black people and their allies, that they will not accept being marginalized and dismissed any longer. For a variety of reasons this made some people uncomfortable. Now I'm sure that some of the people who started using #alllivesmatter did so for less than positive reasons. But I'd like to think that many people who use it have the best of intentions. They feel they are making a statement that they view the lives of black people as every bit as important as their life, or anyone elses. It's a point of view that I understand. Especially I think that something as blatant and potentially polarizing as #blacklivesmatter makes some people uncomfortable who are simply not even remotely radical. I understand that too. I'm not an agitator by nature. I tend to take the quiet path whenever possible. But sometimes the quiet path is simply not an option. But more than that I'd like to give those uncomfortable with using #blacklivesmatter instead of #alllivesmatter, a new way to think about the situation.
When I was a kid I was hooked on re-runs of the television series MASH. That show is probably only second to Star Trek in the formulation of my morality. It was from watching MASH that I learned about the concept of "triage". In simplest terms triage is the idea of prioritizing a horrific situation based on who's need is the greatest, coupled with who has the greatest chance of being sucessfully helped. Say for example you have someone with a broken leg, someone who has been shot in the chest, and someone who has had the lower half of their body horribly mangled. While an untrained persons gut instinct might be to take the most horrific case first, good triage would dictate that the one shot in the chest should receive priority. The person with the broken leg will live without getting immediate attention, and the person with the mangled lower half will most likely die, no matter what is done for them. But the person shot in the chest is in serious condition, but most likely will live if they get immediate help. The simple truth is that not all medical situations are created equal. Nor are all social justice situations.
One of the reasons that some people who are reluctant to use the #blacklivesmatter hash tag give is the fact that there has been horribly violence by the police against many people who are white, or hispanic, or oriental, especially those who speak out, or act up against the establishment power structure. Some people feel that to focus only on the injustices done to black people is to disregard what they feel is a bigger picture. What such thinking misses though is the fact that sometimes the only way to be effective is to narrow our focus. It is in such narrowing that we can seize a moment and make use of it for the greater good. What happened to Michael Brown and Eric Garner has penetrated the national consciousness in a way that a lot of other injustices have not. While it might feel as if by focusing on these specific tragedies, we are losing sight of the bigger picture, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead what we are doing is taking the issue of police wrong doing and moving it from an abstract to a concrete. By seizing this moment in time and proudly proclaiming that black lives matter, not only are we serving to stand with black people, who deserve our support, but also we are in the long run helping to create the kind of world in which we no longer have to proclaim that black lives matter because the evolution of society has made real the fact that all lives matter.
Keep The Faith My Brothers And Sisters!