Hashtags are a constant presence on social media today. They appear all over the web, but not many hashtags form a national and international movement quite like #blacklivesmatter.
As part of Black History Month, the Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center invited Alicia Garza, the creator of the hashtag and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, to speak in the MMC’s Mabry Concert Hall on Thursday, Feb. 4 at 5 p.m.
During her presentation, Garza talked about what led her to create the hashtag in the first place, and how it grew into something greater than a simple Twitter post.
Garza hosted a Q&A session after the presentation, allowing members of the audience to ask questions about her views on specific parts of the movement and advice on how to apply what they learned that evening.
One of the biggest points Garza mentioned during the evening was the importance of compassionate conversation.
“Compassion is the ability to understand where someone is coming from,” Garza said. “Our goal is to make people critical-thinkers, not to change everyone’s minds.”
Garza said the purpose of the hashtag was to make people aware of the problem that exists and unite people towards the common good rather than separating them. The goal is harmony, not discord.
One of the questions revolved around the desire to enact change in a community despite difficulties that sometimes arise with strong conservative families, especially one’s own.
“What you’re doing is a good first start,” Garza said. “Someone once told me the best organizers can organize their families.”
Garza said the desire to create positive change is half the battle.
“It’s human to feel ashamed, but don’t let it stop you,” she said.
Garza also talked about the role older generations have in enacting change.
“It is an important role to facilitate conversations between generations,” Garza said. “I’d bet money your contributions are making a difference.”
In the end, Garza summarized her points by focusing in on the core aspects of #blacklivesmatter.
Garza said three main points to consider when getting involved in the movement are accountability, responsibility and context. The combination of these three allows the simple hashtag on Twitter to transcend cultural boundaries and revolutionize the way the world views humanity.
“Racism is an iceberg. Use this moment to have deep and meaningful conversations,” Garza said.