If there is one space that we have become dependent upon to get our news as well as interpretations of it, it’s social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. These platforms have made it possible for anyone with internet access to seek messaging directly from politicians, to look for quick clarifications through journalism’s lens, to gather further analysis from political experts, and sadly today, we’re also exposed to the very profitable business of political punditry masquerading as policy experts with the particular objective to line their pockets by pushing their biggest patrons’ suppositions on current events.
Whether you agree with this social shift or not, it has become in the last few years very much entrenched in our regular lives. We can debate on its usefulness or its harm but it is very much here to stay for the foreseeable future. If there’s one thing that cannot be denied regarding particularly political Facebook and Twitter is that they reveal the person’s true self hiding behind their username. Social media is a reflection of human behavior without the filter and restrictions of physical interaction; your personality is blunter, your beliefs are louder, your human failures, your bigotries, your core ideologies driving your interpretation of life unfolding are out there for everyone to see. And the people that you choose to amplify are also the reflection of your core beliefs and true nature.
On December 2018, Amnesty International released the most comprehensive and ground-breaking study regarding online harassment of Women covering particularly the political spectrum, and how online abuse has been very much tolerated, even making it clear in certain instances that it was purposely ignored by Twitter.
To no one’s shock, the study found that Twitter is endemic with racism, misogyny, and homophobia. The abusive content violated Twitter’s own rules regarding threats and the promotion of violence based on gender identity, age, race, and ethnicity. On average, abusive or problematic tweets were sent to women every 30 seconds; Black Women were 84% more likely than White Women to be the target; Black Women and Women of Color were 34% more likely to be mentioned in abusive or problematic tweets than White Women; and the online abuse targeted Women with the clear intention to not only silence them, but to also punish them for daring to engage and debate in the political arena.
In late 2020, Facebook’s online violence against Women was also revealed. Facebook’s inactions and slow reactions were a clear reflection of its ongoing support and amplification of authoritarian personalities as well as white supremacy groups, and its shameless resolve to silence those reporting on its lies and abuse.
For the Women who survived the last six years on Twitter and Facebook, this comes as no surprise. They had to hide behind private accounts to discuss their favorite Women running for office, not just from Trump’s voters but also from supposed allies. They had to deal with constant threats of violence, harassment, doxxing, stalking, and a multitude of unhinged rage that defines the very core ideology of toxic masculinity no matter where it landed on the political spectrum. And people should not wonder why Twitter and Facebook defied their own rules in allowing these attacks, as that very toxic behavior is the core tenet of Silicon Valley misogyny. When the very people mandated with moderating debate spaces hold the same beliefs as the perpetrators of toxic masculinity, how do you expect them to recognize misogyny, threats of violence and doxxing, let alone condemn them and put an end to them.
Consequently, this adds to the already heavy burden of emotional and psychological abuse that Black Women and Women of Color have to deal with; on top of living with the constant fear that the men in their lives getting unjustly deported or murdered during routine traffic stops, on top of facing tremendous voter suppression tactics attempting to cancel their right to have a say in the policies ruling their bodies and their lives, they also have to deal with perpetrators of white supremacy silencing their voices on the loudest political stage, minimizing their pain, dismissing their abuse, while pretending that any opinion not aligned with white supremacy’s objective is tantamount to assault.
This is what Black Women in Georgia had to deal with, daily. And they still found the courage to mobilize and flip the state Blue, allowing the Biden-Harris Administration to push for the most progressive rescue plan in decades. Here is Joe Manchin touting all the great good such a plan will do his own state:
And this, too, is Joe Manchin expressing his will to center the very party of Black Oppression.
This pissed me off. This deeply enraged me, for despite my passion for political strategy and the multiple ways it can be interpreted, my core belief is that white supremacy cannot be afforded the same past leniency anymore. Feeling empathy for white supremacists who abetted an insurrection and aided a group of privileged racists attempting to silence the majority’s will is not acceptable anymore. Neither is pretending that Black People and People of Color daring to speak up against white supremacy’s problematic history and ongoing perversion of moral and legal privileges is tantamount to abuse.
The Joe Manchins of this world who still feel empathy for white supremacy are unfortunately everywhere. They are in positions of power to effectively control the narrative and silence dissent while amplifying those carrying water for them. And whenever the Joe Manchins are called out for their obvious racism, they will pretend outrage, have their tokenized BIPOC friends defend them and act as shields against accusations of bigotry, while loudly touting their record of espousing liberal or progressive policy. But all that is just white noise. White privileged noise. It makes no difference what someone’s political ideology is when their every reaction to Women and BIPOC is deeply rooted in conservatism. White supremacy is white supremacy no matter the mask it attempts to hide behind or the identity it abuses in order to deflect from criticism. History is full of endless struggles with white supremacy. Nations are still today battling takeover attempts by white supremacists despite their embrace of, and push for progressive policy because the root-cause of the problem remains the centering of white supremacy and coddling its ever fragile feelings.
When will we ever finally understand that critiquing white supremacy is not assault. That calling out the actions of perpetrators of genocide, of wars, of violence of hunger, of misery is not oppression. When the only weapon left for the victims of genocide, slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, and a cruel unjust system is speaking Truth to Power, no matter how honest and cutting their words might be, it is more important than ever to allow their voices to rise and shatter the pillars of the very system that stripped them of their will, dehumanized them, and appropriated their every accomplishment.