Another Black Life As a Hashtag

2 min read

I felt the sting of threatening tears as I read tweet after tweet, largely authored by black faces. Individual, collective, virtual protests over the acquittal of the police officer who killed Rekia Boyd. Rekia, a 22-year old, black Chicago resident was unarmed when off-duty officer, Dante Servin, shot her in the back of the head, killing her. Rekia joins a growing list of unarmed black Americans who’ve died as a result of encounters with law enforcement. Rekia Boyd also became another hashtag: #RekiaBoyd.

As the burning tears pooled, I noticed another name repeating in my feed, another black death turned symbol of America’s continued refusal to acknowledge it’s institutional racism problem. This time it was 25-year old Freddie Gray of Baltimore, who suffered a SEVERED SPINAL CORD after an arrest, the cause of his eventual death on April 19, 2015.

Last week it was #EricHarris.

The week before that, it was #WalterScott

Unfortunately many other names accompany theirs on the registry of lives ended by those hired to “protect and serve,” including those whose stories for whatever reason don’t get socially amplified.

All around me life goes on. The media makes a fuss over the usual news of unimportance like fashion at Coachella, Kylie Jenner “lip challenges” or which fast food establishment a Presidential candidate visits. Meanwhile, more Americans get shot by law enforcement and in some cases even pay-for-play officers, and life goes on for every else.

Why does this keep happening? And why do so few people seem to care?

I’m sick and tired of seeing black lives as hashtags.

Every hashtag inflicts another cut on my soul and dampens my faith in America’s ability to overcome it’s oppressive roots.

I’m tired of seeing people erase #BlackLivesMatter with #AllLivesMatter nonsense when we routinely see examples in this county of just how much black lives DON’T SEEM TO MATTER.

It’s evident in the amount of energy some people waste in forming intellectually dishonest comments like:

“Well, why was he running from the cops?”

“If you just obey the law, you have nothing to worry about.”

“What about black on black crime?”

“Not all cops are bad.”

We all know not all cops are bad. Right now this isn’t about cops. This is about a flawed system of government-sanctioned murder. This is about people routinely abusing their power and getting away with it while dead bodies pile up.

I think we’re in the middle of a national crisis and not enough people are talking.

I’m laying low this week, turning away from media, social and otherwise. I can’t handle another hashtag.

Rest in peace to all the black lives lost in this crisis. May their families also find some relief from their suffering.

May more Americans wake up to the reality of what’s going on in our “justice” system.

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  • Noodle
    April 29, 2015

    I hate that the media seems to just keep reporting as if these incidents were “just the next thing” and as a result nothing really gets done to help with the actual issues…It’s what we saw happen with school shootings, they just became “common place”. It’s shameful that in a country that we profess to be so great , this kind of thing keeps happening…

    Noodle and crew

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      April 30, 2015

      The media is complicit for sure. Some of the reporting these past few days has been disgraceful, insulting and just plain lazy journalism.

  • Monika
    April 26, 2015

    I don’t think its exactly that so many people don’t care. I think it’s that the media isn’t spending their time covering the right issues. They put the focus on all the silly things they want us to fill our heads with not with what is important.


    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      April 27, 2015

      I wish I could share this perspective, but historically we’ve seen that when certain segments of the population (namely middle & upper middle class white people because they get the politicians listening) *really* care about an issue, progress occurs a whole lot faster.

      Just this weekend it seemed more people expressed outrage/disgust about destruction of property during the Baltimore demonstrations than the actual cause of the demonstrations – Freddie Gray’s murder.

      The media is definitely culpable though. CNN chose to continue focusing on airing the White House correspondent’s dinner over covering the Baltimore protests. They actually even directed people online for more info. They may as well have said, “We’re irrelevant for real news, go to social media.”

  • Sam Yang
    April 26, 2015

    We should all care about black lives. This is the linchpin social issue. We make progress here and every other fight gets easier. We divide and we fight every fight separately.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      April 27, 2015

      Yep. So many of the advancements black people have fought for, other minority or special interests groups later use to progress their own causes.

      Ironically, black people are often expected to join in on those causes because we know what it’s like to be ignored & cast aside, yet when we’re fighting for rights, it often seems – save for a handful of “allies” – we’re left twisting in the wind to fight alone.

  • BritishMumUSA
    April 26, 2015

    I agree with you that it has reached an epidemic proportion. It scares me, and many of my friends. If we don’t stand up now and question why is this happening, then who will be left to stand up and ask this question?

    I was extremely shocked when this verdict came down. It seemed cut and dry to me that he would be convicted. He was off duty, there was no need to approach, and for sure no need to draw his weapon. When he did draw it, again why did he have to fire??? There was no imminent danger of his life, and yet he did all of this and he fired. She lost her life.

    It all scares me for many reasons. It should scare all of us for many reasons. Yes this is a black issue, but it is one that WE SHOULD ALL be worried/concerned about and stand up for.

    I don’t want to see another # either…

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      April 27, 2015

      There was no imminent danger of his life, and yet he did all of this and he fired. She lost her life.

      And he fired into a crowd! A police officer recklessly endangering citizens.

      I hesitate to call it a “black issue” because as you say, it’s something we should all care about. The fact that so many see it as a black issue (not speaking of you specifically) demonstrates just how divided we still are as a country. One shouldn’t have to be of the same “racial” group to care, but sadly it seems that’s what’s happening – again. Different time period, similar underlying problems.

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