Founders Of #BlackLivesMatter Believe Other Groups Shouldn’t Appropriate Their Hashtag
During their South By Southwest (SXSW) panel discussion “What #BlackLivesMatter Teaches Us About Solidarity,” the founders of #BlackLivesMatter said they are thankful their message and organization has gone viral but they would prefer if other races and ethnicities not use a variation of their name (i.e. #MuslimLivesMatters or #LatinoLivesMatters). They’d rather other groups find their own slogan.
Founded in 2012 after Trayvon Martin’s death, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi who created #BlackLivesMatter believe if the slogan is re-purposed by to many groups, their message may become diluted. Tometi shared with their SXSW audience, “Not to say their lives don’t matter, but we’ve been in a society that continues to marginalize black faces, and so we don’t want to see this kind of reappropriation and co-optation of #BlackLivesMatter as a hashtag.”
They believe it would be better for other minority groups to create their own organizations and slogans that #BlackLivesMatter can support. Garza stated: “I don’t think we can have deep solidarity without addressing the question of race. In this country, especially in the last 10 to 15 years, I think there has been a real push towards people of color coming together, and what happens is that black folks get erased from the conversation.”
She continued by focusing on Latinos because many who identify as Hispanic may not consider themselves “Black” even if they have a darker skin complexion. Because of this, some who attended the SXSW panel felt the founders were trying to divide people of color, but both Garza and Tometi feel it is a deeper and more complex issue.
Despite their thoughts on people of color, Garza noted she is looking for “white co-conspirators” to help unify Blacks and whites for the #BlackLivesMatter campaign. Of this choice she claims, “I think we spend a lot of time figuring out how to move white people, and just because of the social power dynamics, I don’t think that we’re best positioned to do that,” Garza said. “I think other white folks who are invested in dismantling systems of oppression are best positioned to engage with other white people.”
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