#BlackLivesMatter and the 'Tangled Bank' of Innovation

Penn State student Zaniya Joe wears a piece of tape over her mouth that says 'Black Lives Matter' during a Ferguson protest o
Penn State student Zaniya Joe wears a piece of tape over her mouth that says 'Black Lives Matter' during a Ferguson protest organized by a group of Penn State University students on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, in University Park, Pa. (Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/TNS via Getty Images)

In his book Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, Steven Johnson says the following:

The patterns are simple, but followed together, they make for a whole that is wiser than the sum of its parts. Go for a walk; cultivate hunches; write everything down, but keep your folders messy; embrace serendipity; make generative mistakes; take on multiple hobbies; frequent coffeehouses and other liquid networks; follow the links; let others build on your ideas; borrow, recycle; reinvent. Build a tangled bank.

In the realm of the social media universe, #BlackLivesMatter has produced electric cries, comments, declarations and insights in geotags throughout the world. It was born in 2012 after the killing of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman.

Two years later, the hashtag lives primarily as a vehicle to discuss and mobilize civil disobedience activities to address the extrajudicial use of force and increasing militarization of local police departments in communities of color.

But the phrase has evolved into something more. #BlackLivesMatter has been used as a conduit to discuss failed responses to Ebola virus outbreaks and malaria outbreaks, South African divestment in the 1980s, the prison-industrial complex, Boko Haram, forced child labor, Muslim identity in the trans-Altantic slave trade, allied support in South Korea, women's rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Iran's opinions on supporting oppressed people around the world.

There is power in this. The hashtag is transforming into a repository of suggestive hunches, fully baked ideas, commands, questions and dreams. A tangled bank is being created that can be the foundation of something greater. World citizens should have the freedom to continue to tether their views to the phrase to further strengthen this bank of ideas. Eradicating the disproportionate use of force by local law enforcement in the United States should be the starting point. The finish line could be broader legal and policy reform ushering in true respect for human rights between communities of color and local, state and national governments around the world.

Other important actions (such as continued nonviolent protests and grassroots engagement with both elected officials and local law enforcement) are clearly still needed. But #BlackLivesMatter should continue to be home base. It should continue to be the vehicle used to make the arduous journey. And it should be the lens through which to review progress on important human rights issues as it relates to state-individual interactions in communities of color. But more ideas are needed. Declarations need to be made. Rigorous, rational discourse needs to continue. All of this needs to be done to further cultivate the zeitgeist of a new, sustained movement that yields true and sustained results.

The tangled bank of #BlackLivesMatter needs to continue to grow.