Hashtags can be a powerful tool in this society. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are currently filled with #alllivesmatter, #blacklivesmatter, and now #bluelivesmatter. I see passion and pain behind all of them, I support all of those.
The climate we live in makes me, a middle-aged, middle-class, white woman, hesitant to speak out. I feel a certain pressure that to appear “enlightened” I must declare #blacklivesmatter. To many people if I declare either of the other two hashtags then I am showing my “white privilege” and living in denial of the world I live in. But if I declare #blacklivesmatter I think it sounds rather condescending coming from a middle-aged white woman who really knows nothing of what it is like to grow up black.
I saw an excellent video by Trevor Noah that expressed a lot of how I feel. He talks about the premise that supporting one “hashtag” means opposing other “hashtags”. That’s the trouble with hashtag movements. They often indicate taking a stand, and taking a stand these days usually means standing against something. If I declare #blacklivesmatter then it seems as if I think police brutality abounds. If I say #alllivesmatter then it sounds like I don’t really think there’s a problem, or as has come out now “of course all lives matter but we’re focusing on black lives now”. Stating #bluelivesmatter puts me on the side of the police, not a bad place to be, but it feels divisive and promotes an “us” and “them” world.
I hate that there is so much violent death going on. I hate that little blond girls that go missing are the ones most likely to get reported on in the news. I hate that it matters what race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or religion the victims are for people to care. I think murder is a hate crime – no matter who the victim.
I am encouraged that out of this latest round of violence there seem to be some real movement toward unity, but I fear it won’t last. I still long for the day when we hurt and are moved for all tragedy, all murders, all senseless violence – that a victim’s identity would not be proclaimed as a hashtag movement – but mourned as the painful loss of one who was, and is, valuable and precious in God’s sight.