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Transcript: Racism & the Internet video

By rebecca - Posted on 16 August 2011

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Digital Story Transcript

Title shot: Race, racism & the Internet.

Author shot: A digital story by Rebecca Martin, Community Change, Inc., Summer 2011.

"Never in the history of man can powerful information travel so fast and so far. I believe that the Internet will begin a chain reaction of racial enlightenment that will shake the world by the speed of its intellectual conquest." - David Duke (Image: text)

The history of race and racism is complex and multifaceted. Both are social constructs with deep roots in power, domination and inequity. (Image: Multiracial collage / Smithsonian exhibit “Race: Are we so different?")

As a nation we’ve tried to move beyond race. Some even claim we’re living in a post-racial age (Image: Multicultural crayons / Nathan Gibbs)

And yet we continue to differentiate, mistreat or turn a blind eye to others different from ourselves. (Image: Excuse me, have you seen racism lately? / St. Anger, Diversity Arts)

But what about the Internet? What role is it supposed to play in our discussion on race and racism? (Image: Text)

In its rawest form, the Internet is a critical tool for disseminating information. It provides us with multiple opportunities to trade, share and collaborate with and learn from one another. (Image: Internet map / Curious Lee)

It's also a space that in its early years was hailed as the ultimate colorblind and equal opportunity environment – a place where race plays no role. Virtual environments and a culture of anonymity were supposed to provide an opportunity to escape the boundaries of race and the experience of racism. (Image: On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog / Peter Steiner)

But we haven't escaped it. Today we see many examples of:
-Hate speech (Image: / Screenshot)
-Racist representations (Image: “Asians in the Library…” / Screenshot)
-And racial identity tourism (Image: “’A Gay Girl in Damascus’ Comes Clean” / Screenshot)

So what we thought was an equalizing cultural force is actually one that mirrors, and maybe even exacerbates, our tangible reality. Structural racism as it exists in our physical spaces is transferring into our digital spaces. (Image: Objects in mirror closer than they appear / Javier Sánchez)

So how do we address racism on the Internet? (Image: Text)

Are there opportunities to unpack and counteract racism on the Internet when it can appear in social networks, comment forums, mashup videos and more? When racist speech is disseminated much more widely and quickly than ever before? (Image: Web 2.0 / Ocean Flynn)

Maybe we can stop it on the governmental level. (Image: United Nations HQ / United Nations Photo)

If we look to the European Union, large networks of nongovernmental organizations work across borders and networks to prosecute hate speech online. (Image: European Network against Racism / Screenshot)

But in the US hate speech online is protected by the First Amendment only when it's coupled with threats, harassment or violence is it deemed illegal. (Image: 404 Error/ Tarale)

If not through our governments maybe the answer lies in our relationships with one another; everyday netizens as well as organized groups are helping to govern each others' actions online. (Image: “Ching Chong! Asians in the Library Song (Response to UCLA's Alexandra Wallace)” / Screenshot)

At the most fundamental level we can check our own digital literacy competencies. We need to understand how racial identities and other, intersecting forms of oppression influence our online activity in all contexts of use. (Image: I want you / Wfryer)

David Duke sees the Internet as a space in which he can spread his messages of racial enlightenment more quickly and more powerfully than ever before. I see a need for a new strategy for combating racism online.

I don’t know that this is the civil rights movement of our generation, but any movement that addresses this issue needs to integrate governmental action, revised and expanded digital literacy education and critical personal reflection – a strategy that balances freedom of speech and freedom of information with freedom from harm. (Image: Civil rights movement of our generation? / OYJ)

Last shot: (Text) “Never in the history of humanity can powerful information travel so fast and so far. I believe that the Internet can help us a counter-narrative about racism in our physical and our digital spaces.” – Rebecca Martin

Rebecca Martin / Remix of Jeris featuring Mind Map That's “Pushin’ Daisies:"

Multiracial collage / Smithsonian exhibit “Race: Are we so different” website:

Multicultural crayons: / Nathan Gibbs:

Excuse me, have you seen racism lately? / St. Anger, Diversity Arts:

Internet map / Curious Lee:

On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog / Peter Steiner; reproduced from The New Yorker: / Screenshot:

"Asians in the Library: UCLA Rant (Original Uncut Video) and Apology” / Screenshot:

“Why do straight white men pose as queer women of color” / Screenshot:

Objects in mirror closer than they appear / Javier Sánchez:

Web 2.0 / Ocean Flynn:

United Nations photo / United Nations Photo:

European Network against Racism / Screenshot :

404 Error/ Tarale:

“Ching Chong! Asians in the Library Song (Response to UCLA's Alexandra Wallace)” / Screenshot:

I want you / Wfryer:

Gay Illegal Aliens (Greg Letiecq blog post) from 9500 Liberty / Screenshot: (Min. 1:11)

No to Racism Protest from 9500 Liberty / Screenshot: (Min. 56)


Civil rights movement of our generation? / OYJ:

About CCI

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Community Change was born out of the Civil Rights Movement and in response to the Kerner Commission which named racism as "a white problem." CCI has done what few organizations are willing to do: shine a spotlight on the roots of racism in white culture with the intention of dealing with racism at its source, as well as with its impact on communities of color.

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