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TONI THORNE: Power of the pen


TONI THORNE: Power of the pen

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UPON SEEING the senseless killings of both Alton Sterling and Philando Castile this past week in America, I was angered and disgusted.

Being a Caribbean  citizen, I did the only thing I thought I could do to aid in the fight against gun violence by American police officers against black people, in particular. I posted a photo and caption to social media with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Nothing major.

Black Lives Matter is chapter-based national organisation working for the validity of black life. It aims to rebuild the black liberation movement. It was created in 2012 after George Zimmerman was acquitted of Trayvon Martin’s death.

On the same day I posted the photo, the respected Dane Saddler expressed his annoyance at such hashtags and asked that we as individuals get into more action and stop relying on hashtags. Hashtags, in his opinion, do nothing. I agree with Dane to some extent. Especially since many people do believe that once they tweet and put a hashtag on social media that the problem is magically solved. They believe that they are instantly absolved of any responsibility.

 Unlike Dane, I do believe that hashtags have their place. Whilst hashtags are important, they are not the ultimate solution. They are a necessary branch in any revolution to take place in this ever-changing technology driven world. Look at the role technology played in the Arab Spring. As Analicia Jade said on Facebook, hashtags get the word out to people who are unaware about what is happening. Believe me, there are many people (black people included) who have never heard the names Keith Childress, Bettie Jones, Miguel Espinal, India Kager.

 A click on a hashtag can change that. That said, many of us seek comfort in ignorance and there is no merit in turning a blind eye to international affairs. There is a certain level of selfishness in this tendency. Many of us do not know because we do not want to know. Our circle of friends do not discuss such things. Our thinking does not allow us to consider there is a world outside of our flashy social media driven lives.

 Another issue I would like to highlight is the retort to #BlackLivesMatter that #AllLivesMatter. Of course, all lives matter. In my opinion, although this hashtag is used by many with the most positive of intentions, it is a cop out in many instances. It is stand tantamount to responding to a claim that slavery was wrong by highlighting the holocaust. Apples and oranges. It is insensitive and in many instances does not address the issue at hand. #BlackLivesMatter is a platform that needs attention because unlike #AllLivesMatter, black lives mattering does not seem to be a given. Ask the families of the aforementioned names. We do understand that every life matters.

Toni Thorne is a young entrepreneur and World Economic Forum Global Shaper who loves global youth culture, a great debate and living in paradise. Email: [email protected]

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