In this time and age, the internet is a very popular place for people to develop and broadcast their own personal identities. In the early nineties white men mostly dominated the population in cyberspace. A digital divide was created between white men and other minority groups on the internet. Nakamura gives the readers a little bit of an insight on the internet and how racial groups are generated on the internet, “while in Cybertypes I focused on the constraints inherent in primarily textual interfaces that reified racial categories, in this work I locate the Internet as a privileged and extremely rich site for the creation and distribution of hegemonic and counter hegemonic visual images of racialized bodies,” (Nakamura 13). The internet does function in ways which promote and create racist ideas towards minority groups however the internet also works in ways to dismantle these racist ideologies. Racism should be spoken about on the internet rather than it being ignored. Nakamura speaks about “genteel racism” and how this is currently an ongoing issue on the internet and in society. “Genteel racism” is similar to the idea of color blind racism “color blindness is a symptom of racism. Rather than see and acknowledge racial difference, we would rather not see at all. Thus remaining blind to the effects of the sight of race in a racist culture is a symptom of racism,” (Nakamura 3). Many people ignore the fact that racism exists and still works in ways where minority groups are continuously being oppressed.
There are more people from different backgrounds and with different identities now using the internet. “There are many Internet spaces, such as pregnancy bulletin boards, blogs, and livejournals that may now assume a default female user, and others such as petition and dating web sites that assume users of color,” (Nakamura 14). The internet is more diverse with all of the social media platforms. Women and minority groups are using the internet at greater volumes which has created a new internet divide. The internet has the power to build and give definitions to different types of people. However, it also works in ways to destroy these preconceived images and should be continued to do so. In this era, many people are moving away from these internalized racist ideas and becoming more aware of different kinds of people and accepting of other cultures.
Blackfishing is becoming very popular on social media apps such as instagram and twitter. This concept is extremely strange to myself and others because there are people on social media pretending and representing themselves as black or mixed. This has created a controversy on the internet and between black women and white women who pose as if they are black or mixed. Dara Thurmond a nurse who resides in New York said “says her frustration comes when white women who appear to be posing as black don’t know the struggle that black women go through just to be accepted as who they are.” I hope all of you can see this shift from the early 90’s where white men dominated the internet and now in the twenty first century there are people posing as people from a black or mixed race. Many of these social media influencers glorify darker skin, braided hairstyles, curly hair, and fuller lips.
The questions I have for you have any of you read a post that lead you to be more informed on racial issues or have you read any posts on social media that have changed your ideas on race and or racism and if so what was it about? Why do you think there is this shift in society and why are more people gloriying people from black or from mixed backgrounds? Do any of you see this as an issue?
Nakamura, Lisa. Digitizing Race: Visual Cultural Aspects of the Internet. University of Minnesota Press, 2008.
Virk, Kameron, and Nesta McGregor. Blackfishing: The Women Accused of Pretending to be Black, BBC News, 18 Dec. 2018.