*This is me getting on my hypothetical soapbox*
Okay, let us begin.
It feels like in the last couple of years, a lot of things have been happening. Women’s rights, LGBT rights, racism, terrorism, all sorts of -isms. And while many (if not all) of these things have been plaguing our country for many years, it feels like they are everywhere now. You turn on the television and you see coverage on another police attack, or another rally for gay rights.
Some people will shrug and think, “It’s not happening to me, so it’s not my problem” or “Somebody is going to fix this”. Some people might think, “Alright world, get yourself together. It’s 2015, we shouldn’t have to be singing the same tune, when will we learn?”. Some people might even take it a step further and do some research, find out the true story for themselves and other statistics. Then they’ll get inspired and type a passionate tweet or snap a picture for Instagram.
And then they’ll hashtag it.
#feminist #blacklivesmatter #heforshe #gayisokay
And so forth.
Now, I’m not saying this is bad thing. It’s not, it’s a great thing! Using social media is a great way to share your beliefs and whatnot with the world. But let’s face it, none of us are Beyonce (although we wish we were). How many people are actually going to see that post? 100’s? Maybe 500 is you’re really social savvy. How many of those people are going to have very different views from us? We surround ourselves with people who we get along with, and who, for the most part, share our same core beliefs.
At the 2014 VMA’s when Beyonce announced that she was a feminist, the world broke. Everyone loves Beyonce, and if they don’t, they are lying to themselves.
That message reached millions of people and sparked thousands of conversations. But like I said earlier, we are not Queen B. We can’t just slap on a trendy hashtag and expect that to be our good deed contribution to the world for the day. So I’ll say it, a hashtag is not a movement. It simply isn’t.
A hashtag is an announcement. It’s used to tell people what your tweet or your Instagram picture should mean. Let’s be honest, most of us use hashtags to find other post with similar tags. What good does it do, to announce something and not do anything about it?
A movement requires actually moving. We have to get up out of seat, out of our homes and do something. For every major change in history, the people didn’t just talk about wanting a difference. Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t just talk about wanting civil rights. He got up, left his house, lead rallies, directed protest and did something. He was beaten, he was scorned, he was threatened, he was killed. But he made a difference.
The hardest part is transforming the desire for a difference into working for a difference. For every reason you have to want change, there’s an obstacle. It’s hard to defend your beliefs and fight for justice in the world. It takes perseverance, determination, a strong sense of self and high tolerance for ignorance and prejudice directed towards you.
Being part of a movement required commitment. It means actively portraying the change you wish to see. It means being the butt of cruel jokes and inequality. It doesn’t mean being passive, but rather doing what you can to make others around you aware of what you believe.
Like I said earlier, hashtags are not a bad thing. They raise awareness and start conversations. But words without actions are empty. One cannot proclaim that the world is unjust without doing all that they can to make it better. It doesn’t have to be a massive hunger strike, all it takes is a start. Start in your community, treat others the way you would want to be treated, be willing to start conversations that matter and listen to others with different views. Do what is within your power to make the world a better place.
Oh my goodness VOTE for EVERYTHING. Vote for every election and not just the presidential. Governors, House of Representatives, Senators, District Leaders. Anything and everything, vote.
The majority of people that vote are the ones that have something to lose or something to gain. If you don’t like the choices that Congress is making, then don’t reelect them. I know it’s discouraging to try and change the government. There’s lots of things that prevent drastic changes, but you have to do all that you can do to ensure that it gets better.
As a young African American woman, I don’t take my voting rights for granted. Whenever I think about the struggle it took for someone like me to get the right to vote, I realize the gift that I have. The women who paved the way for me would be appalled to know that all of their work was for naught it they knew that I didn’t take advantage of my right.
So to wrap things up, a hashtag is just a hashtag until you do something about it. I’m not saying don’t use them, I’m saying use them and then go out and make a difference.
*This is me stepping off my hypothetical soapbox*