Aspiring poet Pernell Thomas, a 30-year-old Navajo living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, had no idea the hashtag he posted to Twitter #NativeMomsTaughtMe would receive such fanfare when he posted it in honor of his mom for Mother’s Day.
The hashtag trended and as a result received national recognition from several online news outlets, including Mic News and PopSugar.
In an interview with ICTMN via email, Thomas explained how he thought up the hashtag, and why his mother is important to his life.
How/why did you come up with the hashtag?
I didn't give it much thought, I was on my last break at work and I was looking forward to seeing my mom for Mother's Day weekend, so I decided to send out a series of tweets about what my mom taught me. I also have many aunts who acted as my mom as well when I was growing up. They also taught me many lessons.
How did it feel to get so much of a response?
At first it was just mainly people that I follow and that follow me that were tweeting with the hashtag, and it was great to see what their mom's taught them as well. I really enjoyed reading their tweets and after awhile, more and more tweets with the hashtag showed up and then started trending on Wednesday night. It was really crazy to think that I came up with the first tweets with the hashtag.
Mic News reached out to me for an interview, then that's when it really started getting crazy. PopSugar saw the article from Mic News and that's how they reached out to me as well. It was really overwhelming to see such a response. I am still a very shocked and in awe about how big it got.
What did some people say to you about it?
No one really said anything to me directly except for several media outlets wanting to know about the hashtag since it was trending on Twitter. My friends were in awe that they knew an internet famous person. Really, I just enjoyed reading what everyone's mom taught them. It wasn't till the weekend after the PopSugar video came out that people started telling me how cool I was and that I was a trendsetter.
Did your mom say anything about it?
My mom only has a Facebook and she really didn't know what it was or how big it got until the PopSugar video came out on Facebook. She thought it was really cool and she was more touched that I thought about her for Mother's Day. She thanked me in Navajo "Ahe'hee shiyazhi," which means, Thanks, my son. She thought it was cool that her pictures were in the PopSugar video.
What kind of influence did your mom have on your life?
My mom has always had a huge influence on my life. After high school, I had moved around all over the U.S., living in seven different states and my mom's teachings had always been with me everywhere I lived. Remembering her teaching was a way for me to take part of home with me wherever I was. Anytime I would do something wrong or get in trouble, she was always the first to forgive me. She has definitely kept me out of trouble for a very long time due to her teachings. She is the strongest most compassionate woman I know.
What should people do to honor the sacred women/moms in their lives?
People should always listen to the women in their lives. Native women are so essential to tribal strength and identity. They are the pillars of our people and we must do right by them by protecting them, honoring them, and making sure that they are valued and appreciated... always.
Watch the PopSugar video here.
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