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Before They Were Hashtags


Before They Were Hashtags

Darrah Hall

Alton Sterling and Philando Castile lost their lives to police brutality last week. While their deaths fit an all too familiar narrative for black men and women living in America, what we haven’t emphasized enough—especially in the accounts told by media—is the value their lives held.

Before they were hashtags, these men mattered.


Thanks CD for offering up a double whammy of humanity to begin my day with. I started with Grace Always Bats Last and then read this beautiful triibute. With all the brutality visited upon people, especially in communities of color, it is a wonderful thing to see our better angels on display and to reaffirm what it is to be part of the human collective. In response I offer John Lennon's anthem for social change agents:


Yes, thank you CD for offering this beautiful piece. After a couple of tepid, lesser of two evil voting articles, this last week, this one made my day.


WHAT IF . . .?

thank you, darrah hall, for such a well-written and much-needed essay. also thank you for focusing on the victims of police brutality and why their lives mattered. this week common dreams also featured michael winship's "why black lives matter" in which he confesses that we who have grown up in white communities cannot fully understand the emotional turmoil of growing up as a black person in a white-supremist nation. we can, however, listen to the voices crying out in the wilderness and imagine withhin ourselves what it must be like. we can read novels written by black authors featuring a black main character with whom we self-identify. we can support the #black lives matter movement with our loving words and deeds. sometimes we read in these discussion or hear some small-minded politician claim the movement is racist in a vain attempt to deny their own racism. we can learn to empathize. after all, regardless of race or culture each and every one of us desires and deserves to live a productive and satisfying life. we all are members of the same race, you know--the human race!

My hometown is riddled with poverty and violence, and shrouded with a hopelessness that clings to its residents like the humid summer heat.

the hopelessness! you know, i think along with the conditions of living in utter poverty with few options the inner rage at the injustice must contribute to the crime rate in impoverished neighborhoods. once a person gives up on himself, feelings of futility overpower him. if he cannot love himself, he can love no one! the dallas sniper and the truck driver in nice france must have felt that sense of hopelessness and futility. each felt his life was useless and therefore all life is useless.


well, we know who pays the mainstream media. we know who donates millions in exchange for political favors and we know whose property the police are paid to protect. we know the media will not! therefore, it up to each loving one of us to do everything possible to end the racism.

again--thank you, darrah hall!


Big Media are the weak links in the Powers That Be because the only thing they have to sell is access to consumer attention. They have no inventory to unload before making new stuff. Attacked in sufficient numbers, they will pretend to cave then have to live up to what they are saying. Communicating agitators would have to stay on them, of course. "We" know all too well that if were up to them, cigarette commercials would be back and plentiful. Alcohol advertiding us sneaking back in. When I was was young and callow, no mention of vaginas would have been unthinkable. Now they're a whole advertising genre.

My only idea is start a major idea and opinion assault, a publicity war on the Big Media companies: emails, voicemails, letters to the editors, their "we want to hear what you think" talkback things they have going. If a few people do it, nothing will change. I think that there are people on "our side".who could produce effective creative counter propaganda. The tools to do this are there, in use every day, but not well aimed yet. media moguls can be made scared But if hundreds of thousands of millions if people do it . . . the point isn't to convince the public, it to scare the executives by hitting them with the same opinions that get posted here.


I thought that this article had a typo and it was going to be about before there were hashtags. That would be much more interesting topic. The capitalist institutions of Twitter and Facebook, together with the heroin-like addictive portable pocket electronic devices that enable it, is destroying all meaningful human discourse and could be the end of us all.

The sad reality is that it was before Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile were murdered and became Twitter hashtags, they did not matter. Good God, was my homewown's famous artist's quote "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes" prophetic, or what?


Very true.


What deep insight,what beautiful language - thank you, darrah hall! Yes, we needed that after all the dribble written and said - when will it be internalized and become part of us, all of us? Hope ...