Friday, May 8, 2015

Social Media or Racist Media?

"Stand Up Don't Stand By." Vimeo
Did you know that at least 43% of kids are bullied and that 51% of that bullying has to do with their appearance? Racism has had a long history all around the world, but with modern technology and social networking sites becoming more readily available, it is now easier than ever to harass or bully someone anywhere in the world because of the color of their skin. Racism is still very prevalent, especially in our “American culture", where everything offensive can be turned into a joke or conversation about freedom of speech if pointed out. Luckily, we can all do something to try and stop this. How can we, as digital citizens, help change online culture and help put a stop to the very prevalent racism going on in social media outlets? We can start by reporting racist language. If social media accounts that post racist comments or posts are reported, the account should immediately be suspended or deleted. More people need to realize how much their digital footprint matters, and that they have the power to step up and say something about what's going on.

Some social media sites have already taken action and tried to minimize the problem of cyberbullying and racism online. Twitter has already tripled the number of people on their response team tremendously, allowing reported issues to be looked over and taken care of much quicker. Twitter is also going over their safety policy, trying to rebuild it in such a way that every Twitter user can feel safe to use the site and not worry about being targeted by cyberbullies. If more sites started following Twitter’s lead, then I think we would see a positive change in the digital community. I think the next step that social media sites should take is enforcing a policy that would have accounts suspended or deleted after posting a racist comment or post.

Unfortunately, however, you can not always do something about racism online. An example of this happened earlier this year and is still happening. A blog meant for retired and active NYPD officers has filled up with racist comments. Comments addressing Puerto Rican women as “old obese tatted up women stuffed into outfits that they purchased or shoplifted at the local Kmart store” can be seen on the blog, as well as African-Americans being called “apes". The police department can not do much about this situation because they can not track which officer posts the comments and it is not in their power to search for who they are. Luckily, if enough attention is brought to these situations by those who see it, then more action can be taken by those in charge of sites against them. According to a 2015 survey on bullying, 45% of people that saw bullying did not report it. Hopefully, if racist cyberbullying is taken more seriously when reported, it would allow more people to feel like they can report racism that they see online and reduce the amount of bullying going on. This would lead to less racism online and show people that part of being a good digital citizen means making everyone feel welcome online.

"Every White Girl's Father's Worst Nightmare Or Nah?" Buzzfeed
I do not think that the people that target certain racial groups online realize or care about the effect that bullying and racism has on people. They may also feel like what they are saying is not racist. This is why they feel like they can say whatever they like without taking the other person’s feelings into consideration. If their actions are called out, they always have an excuse or some sort of justification for their actions. In 2014, an assistant high school principal retweeted a racist tweet from a parody account. A group of students at the school she works at staged a walkout after discovering this information. The assistant principal tried to justify what she did by saying that she has worked with African-American students before and that her daughter went to prom with an African-American date. I feel that this does not in any way justify what she did. I don’t think she realizes that just because she thought it was funny and reasonable at the time, that it wasn’t offensive to others with a different perspective. This is a perfect example of the ignorance towards racism seen all over the internet.

There are people that disagree with my opinion because they feel that if racist speech online is restricted or banned, then freedom of speech is getting taken away. They also think that racism doesn’t really matter and no one is really affected by it. First amendment lawyer Marc J. Randazza wrote an article on how if we ban racist speech, then we would be giving up our freedom of speech. He believes that “some things are worse than racism -- like a loss of the right to speak your mind and think your own thoughts. Unfortunately, that is a price that too many of us are willing to pay." I disagree with his opinion because there is nothing worse than being targeted for something that you can’t change. I know what it feels like to be bullied and made fun of for my race and how helpless you can feel in those situations. You can feel attacked and vulnerable, especially online when the bully is not always identifiable. It can be hard for some people to relate to this feeling, but it is not pleasant. If more people would realize this, then there would be less ignorance and more of a positive change in people’s online actions.

Racism on social media is still a huge problem today. The number of kids being cyberbullied because of their race is countless, and not enough people are speaking up about it. Hopefully if social media sites begin to update their policies and terms of service to delete or suspend racist aggressors, we will see a decrease in racist cyberbullying. More people need to realize the effect that their words have on people and that what they say really matters.

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Conclusion, updated May 28th 2015

Throughout this whole process, I still wholeheartedly believe that if social media accounts that post racist comments or posts are reported, then the account should immediately be suspended or deleted. More people need to realize how much their digital footprint matters, and that they have the power to step up and say something about what's going on. Having good digital citizenship is a skill that will get you far in the online world and is something that we should all strive to do. The comments I got from other bloggers were extremely valuable to me and I truly appreciated every one of them. Though I can’t say any of them changed my mind, I can say that they made me think. I understand when bloggers such as Josephine and Kattikes say that the word “racist” is overused. I definitely agree with this and there are many cases when the word “racist” is misused and wrongly applied to certain situations. This made me think that maybe people use racism as an excuse just to point fingers at each other so they are not the ones in the wrong. In order to effectively reply to the great comments on my post, I had to do some more research which led me to some fantastic articles that I would have otherwise not seen. Overall, I would say that the blogging process and experience really showed me a new side of the internet that I had not thought to previously explore. Researching this topic rekindled my interest in the subject and gave me a newfound motivation to really try to make a positive change online. Publishing a blog like this one and any of the others on this site is a great experience that I think everyone should have at least once in their life.

8 comments:

  1. Hello Yasmine. I'd like to start things off by saying that this was a solid article. I really respect what you said at the end of your fifth paragraph about how you know what it feels to be bullied because of your race. I can totally connect with your experiences. Growing up in the Midwest, I was used to being one of the only non-white students. I've been bullied for eating "different" food. In 7th grade, one kid actually cut me off in the hallway saying, "White people first!" Moving back to the article, I do believe that taking online measures to control racism is good. On the other hand, I think the word "racist" has been thrown around a bit too much nowadays. If someone is playing a chess games and says, "White goes first," it gets labeled as "racist." Any reference to color gets so many claims for "racism." This article on the Overuse of the Word 'Racist' sums up my idea pretty well. I believe that before racism can be stopped online, people must understand what racism is.

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    1. Hello Keshava! Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog post. I'm really sorry to hear about your experiences with racial bullying and I respect that you shared that. I definitely agree with you, people need to understand what they are stopping before it can be stopped. Your article was really intriguing and it really made me think about how racism is defined these days. This article answers a lot of questions about what racism really is and how we perceive it today. Take a look if it interests you. Thanks again for commenting! -Yasmine

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  2. Yasmine, this is a passionate and personal plea for change in our online culture. Thank you for lending your voice to this very important topic, one which sometimes feels too overwhelming to combat effectively. Well done! I think it's important to remember that freedom of speech does not apply in cases of "hate speech," which is "forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group." Racist speech is on this spectrum, though you are right to point out it's hard to change when people don't think so, or they think it's funny. There is an organization in Europe called No Hate Speech, founded by young people that "stands for equality, dignity, human rights and diversity. It is a project against hate speech, racism and discrimination in their online expression." I think you could start a similar movement here in the states!

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    1. Hello Ms. Gerla! Thank you for commenting on my post and sharing your valuable input. I did not think about the hate speech aspect of the freedom of speech, but I do find it interesting that not all speech is free speech. I have heard of the No Hate Speech organization before and I think what they are doing is really great. There is an online campaign for racism prevention which is really interesting and could also be a good idea to take part in. Thanks again for commenting, I really appreciate it. -Yasmine

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  3. Yasmine, Thank you for being so passionate about your topic! its always nice when people are eager to write about their idea, but I would be careful using the word racist or racism due to the fact that things like people disagreeing with the president, is considered racist. This might be purely my opinion due to the fact that I'm white but here is an article (that was also used by Kattikes) that really explains my idea of overuse of the word racist. I like how you showed your reader what companies like Twitter are doing to help but do you think there is anyway for us to get involved?

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    1. Hello Josephine! Thank you so much for commenting on my blog post, I truly appreciate it. I understand what you mean by the overuse of the word racism, and I would have to agree that it does get thrown around a lot. That article was really interesting and I think it displays your idea really well. There is definitely a way for us to get involved. We can start by just reporting any hateful comment or accounts that we see on social medias and start promoting a positive atmosphere online. We can also get involved in organizations like the one Ms. Gerla mentioned. It is a great way to get involved and hopefully end racism online. Thanks again for commenting! -Yasmine

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  4. Hello Yasmine, I really enjoyed reading this article. You did a great job of hooking the reader with an interesting fact at the beggining. I agree with you when you said "racism is still very prevalent" and I think people tend to forget that sometimes. It is still a major issue and I'm glad you pointed it out. I'm also glad how you let the reader know that it is a good idea to speak out and spread the word of racism. It is the first step into becoming a good digital citizen. I also think it is unfortunate that somethings can not be stopped online that involve racism, but I think it is very cool that these social media sights are stepping up to the plate and trying to fix the problems that go on in the media. I think there is a thin line between making a joke and racism. This article called A Fine Line Between Comedy and Racism exhibits this idea a little better. I very much enjoyed your article and I enjoyed hearing your opinion.

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    1. Hey Prad! Thanks for your comment on my blog post. I appreciate all of your opinions and I do agree with them. You're right, speaking out is the first step towards creating a positive online community and becoming a good digital citizen. I really enjoyed reading the article you recommended and I think it brings up some great points. I think you might like to read this article on racism and stereotyping in films and comedy. Thank you again for your quality comment. -Yasmine

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