Non-Applicable #Hashtag

June 19, 2020

Can you imagine telling a breast cancer survivor, “All cancers matter?” Dr Frank Clark discusses what led up to writing the words in his poem, Non-Applicable #Hashtag.

COMMENTARY

Redundancy has a time, place, and season. The hashtag #AllLivesMatter is a non-applicable repetitious response to the Black Lives Matter movement. This response has not been welcomed with open arms by the black community. In fact it has fallen on deaf ears of a community that remains marginalized and devalued because of skin pigmentation.

Can you imagine telling a breast cancer survivor, “All cancers matter?” Can you imagine telling the marine biologist, who has specific interest in studying whales, “All marine mammals matter?” Can you imagine telling the gardener who enjoys planting tomatoes “All plants matter”? All of these responses are invalidating and quite frankly disrespectful.

The #AllLivesMatter hashtag is no different when said to communities of color who have plenty of evidence to debunk this “feel good” saying. It stings. It demoralizes. It re-traumatizes. It torments. It is these sentiments that led me to write the poem, “Non Applicable Hashtag.”

Non-Applicable #Hashtag

Licorice sopranos, altos, tenors, and baritones scoff at the lyrics on the ivory page.

The conductor requests the tormented voices bellow #AllLivesMatter on the whimsical stage.

Licorice sopranos, altos, tenors, and baritones nauseated with audience reverberation of #AllLivesMatter.

Wounds of invalidation, anguish, and pain dehisce with pus that longs to silence the ivory chatter.

Licorice sopranos, altos, tenors, and baritones coalesce to stand the test of time.

#AllLivesMatter is a pretentious message filled with ivory denial that is not worth a dime.

Dr Clark is Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Greenville and Medical Director & Division Chief for Adult Inpatient and Consult-Liaison Services for the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at Prisma Health.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of his employer, university, or Psychiatric Times.