Sunday, January 15, 2017

Troll Bait Hashtag #HereToStay Builds Solidarity On Twitter

I'm a sporadic twitter user mostly because lack of time doing my day job, plus not being glued to my phone which barely works at home in the woods. But I love twitter and it's my best news feed for sure; I joined it after experiencing the floodgates of facebook friending. 

Why did people who hated what I stood for in high school suddenly want to see my facebook posts? We're old enough now that apoplexy increases the risk of stroke, doesn't it?

So with more careful following I built a more international and, yes, intellectual list of twitter users who bring me news I would never get from corporate sources (which I mostly ignore anyway).

But if I'm at a live event that seems to have broad significance, and I wasn't an organizer of the event so I can mingle and flirt with babies and take things in, I often tweet about it. Yesterday's attendance in Lewiston, Maine at one of the many January 14 immigration support rallies was such an opportunity for me.

The event poster and a twitter user I sat next to advised me that #heretostay was the hashtag du jour. Boy, did that turn out to be troll bait!

Many fine young poets from Maine's extensive Somali immigrant population took to the stage and I tweeted a few clips from their heartfelt words about growing up black and Muslim and, in the case of the women, covered in the whitest state in the U.S. 
One of many fine banners on display in Lewiston courtesy of ARRT!

Rakiya Mohamed, a student at nearby Bates College, read a message from her 21 year old self to her "fresh off the boat" childhood self. She also gave an interview to a WCSH reporter on the scene where she described a 10 year old girl being harassed and spit on at a 4th of July fireworks display.

It was often tough to catch the speakers' names or spell them correctly as there was no printed program. This poem entitled "Lazy Boy" spoke poignantly about the struggle to be a high school student and eldest brother of a family of first generation immigrants.
One poet I could identify correctly was Tufts student Muna Mohamed whom I remembered from her days at Lewiston High School. She made the news there as part of a group that put up a Black Lives Matter educational poster only to have the principal take it down. And then, bowing to public pressure, put it back up again. Her poem about being mis-identified by others was one of the best.

Portland's first African-born Muslim city councilor, the recently elected Pious Ali, who hails originally from Ghana, spoke well. He asked for a show of hands about who among us were immigrants, the children of immigrants, or the grand and great grandchildren of immigrants. And who had a neighbor or friend or co-worker from a family of immigrants. Everybody, right?

About 500 people were in attendance at the (mercifully) indoor venue. We finished off by singing Neil Young's updated version of the classic Woodie Guthrie tune "This Land Is Your Land" together which was a beautiful experience.

This is the tweet that most seemed to anger those who dwell under the social media bridge. An avalanche of nasty replies -- the likes of which my twitter feed seldom sees -- awaited me this morning. I guess I struck a nerve, or maybe it's just that someone paid folks to troll for the #heretostay hashtag and churn out some vitriol in response.

Are they angry because their beautiful daughters can't afford to go to Tufts? Or because they imagine that refugees who work in nursing homes in Maine are taking jobs away from white people -- who don't want to work in nursing homes?

Not sure, but I do appreciate the traffic on my twitter feed.

I got many new followers, retweets and likes from being a citizen journalist at yesterday's rally. πŸ‘πŸ» πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ’žπŸ’žπŸ’ž

I'll end with my sign of the times, the one I carry in my vehicle and use to show that, as an ACLU lawyer observed, "Before the government can come after any individual in this room they'll have to come through all of us." Amen to that, sister.

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