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July 7th, 2016

On A Hashtag Moment

I've found a decent steady-state in my relationship with Twitter. I don't pretend like I can keep up with it, but check in pretty often and find something I like about it every time I do. A couple days ago what I found was a very brief video, recorded by a black woman confronting the white woman who had been following her while she was out walking her dog. A verbal confrontation turns briefly, almost comically, physical, and the ending to the story is the white woman getting arrested for assault.

There is an "in medias res" quality to the video, but what's immediately apparent is that the black woman is scared. She is nervous, and uncomfortable, and trying really hard to be polite, and you can hear it in her voice. She's creeped out and trying to stay calm in the face of a woman muttering about "south Miami" and "I'm gonna report you." She's recording the whole thing because she's worried that an old white lady has started something that could turn ugly. And it did. The white woman escalated the situation, provoking a physical response from the black woman, and then howls in this disbelieving way about getting hit. It's at this point where the black woman seems to tick over from fear to (understandable, justifiable) anger, and it's so satisfying, and the white woman is so whiny, almost cartoonishly deserving of the smack she got and still trying to go after that camera because on some level she probably knows she's a creep. Then there's a second where the black woman pauses in the middle of her pretty righteous tirade, the camera moves and you see a cute little dog on a purple leash, and then you hear "MOVE MOJITO!" Like, "Goddamn it, Mojito, I'm busy, okay?" Like, "Ugh, Mojito, if you didn't need to poop outdoors this would never have even happened!" Like, "Mojito, if you bite this lady, I'm probably going to get into trouble, and I might already be in trouble so knock it off!"

#MoveMojito, inevitably, was the brief hashtag party that resulted.

It was a fun little party, there's t-shirts and everything now, and it was the sort of small-stakes thing that lets you laugh past the underlying ugliness of it all, but the more I thought about it, the more bothered I was by how it began. It began with a woman doing absolutely nothing wrong, confronted by someone who felt entitled to challenge her for no goddamn reason. (Is this your property? Am I trespassing? No? Then why are you following me? What do you want of me?) She's afraid, and it turns out she's right to be afraid. She's afraid of an elderly white woman for good reason. She records the encounter because that's the sort of thing you need to do if you want other people to believe you and take you seriously.

And then literally the day after that #MoveMojito party, two black people were murdered by police officers. Same song, different key. I don't really know how people are able to live with that level of justifiable fear, but it's not right.

ETA: Here's a more triumphant take, which I can fully get with.

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