Hashtags Are The New Black

By Jaylin Paschal

There are a lot of cultural symbols for "blackness." Some of them pleasant, some not so much. Some racist, some agreeable, some stereotypical--but all symbolic.

Unfortunately, the hashtag has become one of those symbols.

You log onto Twitter to see #__________ trending. If it's not an instantly recognizable name of a celebrity, or athlete, or political figure, you assume it's a dead black body. You assume it's a victim of a police shooting. You assume the victim was unarmed. You assume there is nothing you can do about it. And, most devastatingly, you assume that this dead black body is just the next dead black body. You assume there will be another.

At surface level, these hashtags are simply a way for black people (or "black Twitter") to organize and effectively communicate. Hashtags make it easy to facilitate conversation regarding police brutality and black death at the hands of the state, while also making information on these issues quickly and easily accessible.

And yet at the core of the cultural phenomena, it is psychological warfare. Do you have any idea what it does to your psyche to associate a button on your keyboard with black death? With systemic murder? With broken justice system? With cycle? With fatal melanin? With perpetual death?

Me either.

Here is where I would begin the list of black lives lost, but I don't know where I'd end it.