By Darnysha Nard, Staff Writer
The night started with this one simple word. Years ago this (#) was just a symbol affectionately referred to as the ‘pound sign.’ But now it means much more. It allows people from across the nation and even across the world to join hands in causes bigger than their individual selves. This little symbol unites so many people to do something big. We listened to Rahiel Tesfamariam speak of how she used the hashtag to her advantage, to the advantage of a marginalized people group in a society that promotes silence over speech. She discovered the power of the written word. She shared her words with an entire generation. In response to State of Missouri v Darren Wilson, in which Darren Wilson received no indictment for shooting and killing Michael Brown, she hashtagged the moment and let the nation know that Black Friday shopping could happen but #NotOneDime will come from her wallet.
Rahiel spoke of the dichotomy between the theology preached on Sunday and the news covered on weeknights. As a Black woman, she referred to the disconnect of sermons that talk of a God long ago redeeming an oppressed people, while a modern society still oppresses Black people after centuries of turmoil. How is hope to remain relevant when strife cannot be escaped? Rahiel exclaimed the necessity for a dramatic shift. Changes need to be made that allow people who have power to recognize this privilege and discover ways to use this to aid others who do not have power. She pointed out that fear is crippling people on both ends of the spectrum. Our nation is divided due to “black folks and the fear of state violence and white folks in fear of losing white privilege,” preventing any of us from moving forward.
But how can you move forward? How can you move forward when there are more things holding you down than lifting you up? How can one person rally a group of people with the same passion for life and equality?
It could all be so simple. Instead of internalizing the myths that degrade and separate the Black community, we can join our voices in unison. Many things have broken us down, but we no longer remain downtrodden. Rahiel poignantly stated, “So often we dispose of what has broken us… recycle that pain and use it. What but our brokenness can help us grow together?”
Soon after this quote, the talk ended. The audience was quiet, still digesting all that was said. She told us how to bridge that dichotomy, she told us how to go from a hashtag to a movement.