Racism has been and is still a social evil that is yet to be totally eradicated. It has eaten into the society causing mistrust and disharmony. The most heavily experienced racism is the black racism. In recent few months the world has witnessed massive protests against Black racism in the United States of America following the murder of a black George Floyd in broad daylight and under by white police. These protests were characterized by mammoths, of crowds protesting against black racism, while chanting the now very famous slogan, ‘Black Lives Matter’. The Protests in the US were followed by protests all over the world against black racism (Wark, 2019). Black Lives Matter (BLM) is now a Worldwide Movement with millions of followers. However, the question is, how did the world manage to get this information so shortly? The answer is very obvious, through social media. Immediately the video of Floyd’s murder was posted, it spread like bushfire through all kinds of media platforms and this got people all over the world expressing their disgust at the act. The social media was the major agent and the issue brought debates for days and even weeks. Just like in the past where media through music influenced racism in the making upwardly mobile and urban Black culture distanced itself from blues culture, the media also has a big influence on racism in the future. As the impact of the media on racism has been witnessed in the past and presently, the question of its impact on racism in the future arises.
Unity against Racism
The media has proven to be a major force that can propel the unity of a country, region or even the world at large. This was witnessed in the protests against the globally condemned murder of George Floyd. The protestors consisted of thousands of individuals from all walks of life in the United States. There were Africans, whites, Indians, Mexicans among other races united for the course. The protests occurred in several states and in all these countless number of people participated. The unity was also seen in cases where despite meeting force from security forces, they did not relent and the protests continued for weeks till the police opted to joining them as opposed to dispersing them. This did not end here. Other protests from different parts of the world followed suit and soon, the world was singing the Black Lives Matters anthem. This unity was further indicated by the willingness of people to converge in demonstrations despite the current Corona Virus pandemic which required social distancing and avoidance of large gatherings. Social media therefore can be a resourceful tool in unifying the world against racism in the future. This movement could only be compared to Social movements such as feminism and gay liberation refused to settle for secondary status as mere epiphenomenon to the class struggle
To some extent, the media, specifically social media will play the big role in curbing racism. This is being seen as millions of people are using the platforms Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram provide to publicly open up, discuss, and circulate race related matters. Social media sites are therefore nowadays being used as primary sources of news and issues affiliated to racism (Maxwell, 2016). The social media is being depended on as a means of exposing racist people and racist activities of racial discrimination. Credit is given to social media for the exposure of George Floyds Murder hence giving birth to the Black Lives Matter movement which is having a massive positive reception worldwide. It is in fact argued that were it not for the sharing of Floyd’s viral video on Facebook, and emergence of the hash tags such #Black Lives Matter, some Americans and even a large part of the world would still be in denial that black racism in the United States actually exist. This exposure has seen people coming out and opening up about their personal racism experiences how these experiences impacted on their mental health and why they had not come out earlier.
The impact has been very huge such that it has been embraced in sport and entertainment where famous football teams have been currently observing a one-minute moment of silence in solidarity with the fight against racism. These teams have also printed the hash tags #Black Lives Matter at the back of their jerseys to show their support for the online movement. The football sport industry has seen several racial discriminations on media against players. According to Kilivington and Price (2019), approximately 135,000 discriminatory social media posts relating to the English Premier League (EPL) were made during the 2014/15 season. With the tempers and emotions that face football matches over the world, racism comments on social media may still be witnessed in the future. Formula one team such as Mercedes has also developed black cars to participate in their highly followed races so as to portray their support for the movement and fight against racial discriminations. Several celebrities in the film, movie and the general entertainment industry are also coming out in support of the movement. If these trends continue, then the media and specifically social media will be very instrumental towards eradication of racism in the future.
In an attempt to help in curbing the racism menace, the media sector, especially the social media is developing various infrastructures to combat racism. Online sites such as twitter are replacing terms in their websites which may appear to sound racial or suggests racial discrimination. Words such as slave and master are being replaced by more polite or inclusive words, to eradicate any racial ideas that may suggest racism. The media is also developing techniques to detect racial comments and hate speeches (Shankland, 2020). For instance, twitter has developed techniques such as Hate Speech Detection: tweet collection and classification and Social Network Analyzer. The tweet collection and classification mechanism are aimed at classifying tweets, whereas the data social network analyzer tool is used in analyzing the hate speech and racial contents inside the social network. Once these comments have been detected, they are immediately pulled down. Social media users are notified of such posts and warned against it. Continuous defiance of the regulations leads to blocking or deactivation of one’s account. This trend has been severally witnessed severally on twitter where several posts have been taken down. This trend will be very vital for fighting racism in future if all media platforms adopt such technologies (Wark, 2019).
Crime reporting in broadcast media has been debatable since its introduction due to conflicts of racial bias. News that are chosen for reporting have been criticized for how they display racial groups, and also for how racial groups are targeted in reporting. These developments also allow users to report any comments and thoughts that they feel may be offensive. Once reported, an action is immediately taken against the accused. Some social media platforms such as Nextdoor.com launched in 2011 as a private social network that allows residents to report “suspicious activity”. However, these developments have faced challenges such as false accusation without any grounds. This mostly affects black or Latino residents living in gentrified neighborhoods. Indeed, the newspaper found that users will report a black person even if they only have a few details about them, such as “black” or “wearing a hoodie (Garcia, 2015). Following a racist comment, the user will not necessarily see his or her account closed, but their comment will be blocked, muted, silenced or deleted (Viejo, 2017). This shows that although media technological enhancements are being aimed at curbing racism, these developments may work against the course as seen whereby people have shown racial reactions by reporting a black people even without facts. Furthermore, these developments are being made by only a few social media companies. The remaining companies are less bothered by sensitive remarks on their website hence will lead to continued racism in the industry.
According to Kilvington and Price (2019), the Internet is not a ‘race’ neutral or color-blind space as it arguably mirrors the physical world. There is a developing type of racism referred to as cyber-racism. Racist groups are emerging especially in social media platforms and taking advantage of online communications to influence and reinforce divisive ideas. This is not only limited to racist groups, as some individuals unaffiliated to these groups are also conforming to this behavior. Racist groups are active on different communication platforms to individuals, and they have different objectives and strategies which they use to achieve them (Garcia, 2015). On the other hand, Individuals in most cases participate in cyber-racism to hurt others emotionally and psychologically, and to confirm their racist views by connecting with like-minded people. Individuals active in cyber racism mostly channel their communications through blogs, forums, news commentary websites, gaming environments and chat rooms, to undermine other groups or increase social desirability (Kilvington & Price, 2019). Undermining other groups is referred to as blatant racism while increasing desirability is referred to as modern racism. Contrary to individual cyber-racists, racist groups channel their racist communications through their own group websites and group forums. The main aim of these groups includes, spreading racist propaganda, create a sense of borderless group identity and to make the group itself grow stronger and popular by seeking out on people who share their racial ideologies. In spite of their differences, groups and individuals both have a high level of sophistication in their ways of communicating their racism online (Bliuc, Jakubowicz & Dunn, 2019). Online racism may involve racial epithets, statements that were untrue, stereotyping and implicitly racist statements, racist jokes, symbols of hate such as the Confederate flag, threats of physical harm or death and graphic representations/actual images of dead black bodies (Tynes, Seaton & Zuckerman, 2015).
The two trends in the emergence of Cyber-racism are threatening to have grievous impacts in future. This because of their strategies such as the attracting young people in online media platforms and manipulating through strategies such as video games in which they incorporate their racial ideologies such as white supremacies. This is very worrying since it might escalate the level of racism in the future. A racial group tends to form movements antagonizing the movements against racial discrimination on media platforms. Such scenario was witnessed in the recent Black Lives Matter (BLM) campaigns (Tynes, Seaton & Zuckerman, 2015). A certain group came up with white lives matter which was supported by a few individuals in the social media websites. This proves that even in the future, such groups are still going to exist, hence as much as the media will be focusing on eradication of racism, some groups will be using the same media to de-campaign them. This will pose a very huge challenge.
Media Promotes Racism
According to Thompson (2019), several forms of media, especially televised media, have a negative influence on racism in America since they often tend to promote the myth of white supremacy. Thompson notes that there are some televisions programs that tend to constantly point fingers at people of color, especially black people breaking the law. These shows therefore are continuing to display that people or a certain color or races are criminals thus propagating discrimination against them. However, he states that there are other shows which portrayed mostly “white-washed” black people, views, and situations (Chatterjee, 2020). These shows rarely address racism, colorism and the difficulties of life without the privilege enjoyed by whites. The roles awarded to certain people of certain color are always those that portray them as the foolish, the bad, the lazy or the evil. This has continued to cultivate the white supremacy ideology among the white people. This is very hazardous for the future.
Fake Accounts and Fake News
The media has been praised for the recent exposure and fight against racism. However, the continuous emergence of fake news and fake accounts on the media sector is threatening to water down the efforts and reputation displayed. In the Black Lives Matter protests, protesters carried placards condemning the funding of fake news. Several blogs developed containing fake news claiming that the demos were baseless and means of looting (Viejo, 2017). These blogs also alluded that certain companies, Apple included were against the ongoing demonstrations. Other sites claimed that the BLM movement was just anti-police hate group. About ten U.S-based, racist Fake News sites have been brought under scrutiny for publishing fake news during the demonstrations and advertisers asked to blacklist them (Chatterjee, 2020). Fake news is therefore on way in which the media is used negatively to increase racism. Occasionally, media houses produce magazines and newspapers with fake news that promote racism. In the social media, fake news is mostly spread by fake accounts. Racist individuals and groups create ghost accounts which they use to propagate their racist propagandas. The main challenge is that even if one account is reported or blocked, the culprit is able to open another account and go ahead with the intended racial posts.
Micro-aggression refers to brief and commonplace daily verbal and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicates hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults to the target person or groups (Kulaszewicz, 2015). Racial micro-aggressions are responsible for many inequities that members of racial minorities face in their daily experiences a white dominated society. For media to successfully fight racism, micro-aggression issue must be handled with utmost thoroughness and concern.
In conclusion, the media will have various impacts on Racism in the future. It will continue to be an in important campaign tool against racism through exposure of racist acts and offering an open environment where individuals can freely discuss their experiences and views. Movements such as BLM will foster the war against racism all over the world. However, the media will also experience challenges in this quest. Issues such as cyber-racism, fake news and accounts and macro aggressions will be an obstacle in the fight for racial equality. These trends bring a big challenge in future in the fight against racism. Technological developments such as reporting of racial comments will be both an advantage and disadvantage as the same techniques are vulnerable to racist individuals and groups. Without thorough management, these developments will become total obstacles. The media is just a tool but not the revolution. Although the media has proven to be very vital in the fight against racism, if no action is taken after the media has exposed racial discrimination incidences, racism will still remain rooted in our backgrounds. In a country like India, racism has been a major issue but never got the required attention. This portrays the need for exposure hence the media comes in. Just like the US Citizens realized that the media is not enough hence they took up the challenge to actualize whatever was being preached in the media. The only way therefore to fight against racism is to act using social media as a tool or a sword for war. The problem of racism is far and wide and online platforms are just a tool to reduce it. What’s important is a change in the mindset of the masses, and this is possible only through proper education and explanation of the issue.
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