Another day, another hashtag

That might sound flippant. It’s not. It’s an acknowledgement that this happens again and again and again. It’s exhausting, but it should be exhausting. I am aware that my exhaustion is chosen. It’s voluntarily. It’s mine.

As always, I’m writing just to think.

The pain of our fellow citizens should be painful. If it is not, we are complicit. If we say nothing, we are complicit. If we ignore it, we are complicit.

It is very, very easy to be complicit. It has to be–that is part of how systems of inequality maintain themselves. If not for social media, we would not see the people in pain. If not for that hashtag, I probably wouldn’t know Alton Sterling’s name. It’s important to keep scrolling.

Police brutality must be stopped, but today I am thinking about how it is a symptom. South Park did a very good episode about this point last year; they pointed out that our society is constructed in such a way that we want the police to be brutal. We need them to be brutal. We want them to hurt the people who scare us. We want them to maintain the lines and the divisions so we feel safe. So we feel comfortable.

The police officers who murdered Alton Sterling should be held accountable. They should go to prison. But they won’t and this will keep happening, because the underlying want of society is still there. It’s not enough to criticize cops. Which isn’t to say we shouldn’t–it’s that that doesn’t far enough. It doesn’t get at what’s really, deeply wrong.

You might say, I don’t want black men and women to be shot in the street. Of course you don’t, not actively, but you participate. I participate. It’s a deeply uncomfortable thing. It should be uncomfortable. It should inspire us to do something. To stand up. To speak. To take action.

Do it mindfully, of course. Do it respectfully–respectfully toward the people you’re trying to support. I’ve said it before: being an ally is activity, not a badge. A process. And the minute you stop doing it–and I mean really doing it–you cease to be one. But you can be one again. We keep trying.

Another day, another hashtag. It’s painful. It’s upsetting. But I would rather be in pain; I would rather be upset than pretend it isn’t happening.

If you are white and want to organize in your community: Showing up for Racial Justice.

If you want to help: Black Lives Matter, Words to Action, Campaign Zero, Say Her Name.


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