December 7, 2014

Hashtag Nation

#HandsUpDontShoot. #ICantBreathe.
If you spend any time on social media, or even if you pay attention to traditional media, you've seen the hashtags that stem from the shooting of Michael Brown and the choke-hold death of Eric Garner, both black males dead with the officer involved in each case un-indicted. The cases themselves are not necessarily indicative of #racism, even if that's the lens through which they are supposed to be viewed.

#BlackLivesMatter. #ShutItDown.
The two above are echoing in the multiple protests that have occurred in Ferguson and NYC and across the country since the grand jury decisions came out within days of each other. Without a charge in either case -- not murder, not manslaughter, not even criminally negligent homicide -- it's understandable that there were protests, even if some of them were self-serving, not on message, and generally destructive, when that's exactly the opposite of what was needed. Everyone saw the pictures of looting and burning in Ferguson. Here's some perspective on that, and on the whole of #Ferguson.

#CrimingWhileWhite.  #LivingWhileBlack.
The first one's all about how white people don't get arrested for things, as opposed to black people who do get arrested for things. Stop and frisk. Open container violations. White collar crime. Shooting your hunting buddies. That kind of thing. Here's a comedic take on it, peppered with some facts which should at least make you stop and think about things for a second.  The second of the pair is all about the flipside of the white privilege coin; about having to work harder, live more carefully, be more aware of your surroundings, simply because of your skin color.

Hashtags are used to bring people and ideas together; that's like-minded people and frequently opposite-minded people as well.  When those connections lead to open dialogue and an honest (if sometimes uncomfortable) exchange of opinions and perspective, we have a real opportunity. If they turn out to be only fleeting hashtags, if we all go back to what we did and thought before, that opportunity will be lost.