Bigotry through social media


Jennifer Fowler, Editor-in-Cheif

In the wake of the grand jury decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in regard to the Michael Brown shooting, ideas of racism have surfaced and spread rapidly throughout the country.

Dismissed as a seemingly dead ideology that was essentially put to rest during the Civil Rights era, racism has been shown to still be very prevalent in Americans 50 years later. Widely referred to as “Ferguson”, the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer sparked controversy on Aug. 9, as long standing racial tensions were brought to a boil. In recent weeks as protests have ensued, within the Ferguson hashtag on Twitter, African-Americans have been referred to as thugs, criminals, and animals.

Racist slurs were being spewed instantaneously, as users created pictures of Mike Brown with bullet wounds in his head, and dismissed the human rights of protestors. These are a few tame examples, as racist propaganda was spread at hyperspeed across the internet. I’ve had the displeasure of seeing countless arguments across social media as this issue has grown, as people use  virtual anonymity to make racial comments they’d never say in person. This is an enormous issue, as people take to the comments of news articles, Facebook posts, tweets, to unleash an abundance of outrageous ignorance.

While free speech is an ideal Americans live by, that condones individuals to express themselves however they please, this is unacceptable. Going to a public forum and generalizing an entire race of people, calling them uneducated, classless, and hopeless, is ludicrous. People have the right to support whoever they want in this situation. Opinions differ, and I respect that. But regressing back into racist beliefs is disgusting, and trying to provoke African-Americans on the Internet is immature, as well as insensitive.

I was in pure disbelief when I scrolled through Twitter, Facebook, as well as the comments on stories in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. What this event has done has prompted a much needed candid conversation about race in America, and subsequently, people’s true beliefs have spilled out. While there are people protesting about something they believe in, and something close to them, there are individuals who log in to their Facebook accounts for the sole purpose of attacking them.

The segregation of America has resurfaced, and it is very clear where people’s positions are. This event has shone a light on the racists that have been tight-lipped in America, and goes to show that racism is far from over.

Social media has played a large part in this affair, initially to inform and educate, but it has now become a battleground. A battleground for small minded people to call African Americans thugs and morons, and tell people that #BlackLivesMatter is idiotic. A battleground for social justice activists to protest for what they believe in, as they are mocked by the right-winged upper middle class community.

Social media has the potential to be very powerful, and should be used to uplift, not to encourage hate. While every individual has the right to free speech, think about it, is what you’re saying truly right?

In order to move forward, we must open our minds, and educate ourselves. Not bicker like pre school children on a social media forum.