Since 2011, hashtag activism has been picking up speed with participants and supporters on social media raising awareness collectively and expressing solidarity towards political causes via hashtags on a range of social media platforms. When reading #Identity – Hashtagging Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Nation, I was surprised to hear the history of hashtag activism started with Black Twitter, which became a source of expressing solidarity, sharing information, and organizing protests for African Americans and their allies. With the use of hashtags, Black Twitter was able to raise awareness of the constant danger of racism and sexism occurring throughout the United States.
Twitter has been a key platform for people all over the world to interact together with hashtags. It has helped bring awareness and greater attention to issues such as race and racial inequality. The collective voice and interaction of people from all kinds of backgrounds have encouraged conversations.
However, more recently we have seen a rise in White Twitter a notable challenge and backlash to Black Twitter. We have seen social media become a violent platform of hate towards people of color, women, LGBTQ people, and immigrants. It is sad to see such hate being spread online and to see people with such high power and influence over people ignoring the violence that has transpired.
Another article that I read this week The New Native Intellectualism, interested me a lot. This reading highlighted to me the way that Native people are portrayed in the public eye. I had never seen or heard about the film The Lone Ranger, but the article summarised its plot to be a revisioning of the old West and revisioning the main character Tonto “as a painted, dirty, mumbling character who wears a stuffed black bird on his head” (page 90). I quickly came to acknowledge the sensitivity of the film and the stereotype being portrayed by native people. In 2014, on Oscars night the hashtag #NotYourTonto went global on Twitter, with people expressing their outrage and disappointment of Hollywood’s constant stereotype and lack of inform portrayals of Native people.
Not only did Twitter engage more than one million people by the end of the night with #NotYourTonto, but the 2014 Oscars saw another trend #NotYourTigerLily. The hashtags being used is a prime example of social media highlighting the issues of race and better educating people about the damage of stereotyping. Due to people showing their support on Twitter and using hashtags to start a collective conversation, the media is now paying more attention to how better to respond to issues that affect Native people in today’s society. However, I feel that there is still more to be done to stop discrimination and the dismissiveness of Native culture.
The topic about race and social media has taught me that hashtag activism isn’t going to end bias, discrimination, and violence. Even though it has done wonders in raising awareness on racism, sexism, and stereotypes there is still a lot to be done to make a difference. We all need to do more than just tweeting our support and take specific actions to make a difference and encourage permanent change.