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Divide and Complicate

Originally written on October 28, 2012

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One of the biggest social constructions ever invented is the institution that is racism. I’ll spare you history lesson, but will describe a situation that happened as of late. While at a baby shower for a family friend, a Puerto Rican woman of a tan complexion entered the bathroom with me and proceeded to tell me that I reminded her of a certain singer. (I’ve been getting that a lot lately, so I paid it no mind and said thank you.) However, she followed up by saying “you’re so pretty even though you have such dark skin, like you have nice features.” Luckily she couldn't see the expression on my face, but swallowing my pride and said thank you, and said my goodbyes.

 

Now, as a women of color around the entire world can tell you; African-Americans are not the only ones to be stigmatized or discriminated against by the particular shade of their skin. This happens in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia as well. Skin bleaching and lightening creams can be easily found in neighborhoods with high levels of ethnic diversity, and can even be found in beauty ads themselves. Think of the internet frenzy that L’Oreal created back in 2008 over the Beyonce ads.  Tyra Banks did an amazing episode on the “light skin vs. dark skin” debate and ramifications when she interviewed women who not only bleached themselves but their children. This, along with other specials, social experiments, and documentaries, aired out one of our best-worst kept secrets. Not only is human-kind not over racism, but they don’t even need “the powers that be” to tell them to feed into it. We do it to ourselves.


Taking inspiration from Policing the National Body: Race, Gender and Criminalization in the United States, and Michael Foucault's philosophical teachings, the complexes we have among the races is more than skin deep. It is a type of imprisonment that is rooted in the mind, and then branches out into all other forms of life. Therefore, the only type of real change can happen from within ourselves. The damage we do as people of color or simply just as people; is one that sometimes cannot be erased. The only hope that can be found is fostering a judgement-free dialogue in which everyone has an equal opportunity to be heard and understood.  Otherwise, we may never move upwards and onward to more relevant issues like actually ending world hunger and preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Oversharing Is Ruining Social Media

What happens when our views and beliefs get trapped in codes and links as opposed to debated in person. 

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June 21, 2013

Unless you haven’t watched any news this past week, you’ve seen the NSA Prism whistleblower, Edward Snowden reveal himself and why he felt the need to go public. As this news broke, we also discovered that the Prism program is tapping into tech giants such asFacebook, Apple, and Google.

Yet, you would think that this would make more millennials or social media users would be up in arms, or that usage would go down. Perhaps it’s still too early to gauge, as the latest set of numbers show that billions of users are on platforms such as Facebook and Google+.

Given the knowledge of the National Security Agency looking into our accounts, maybe all of those posts you liked about culturally sensitive topics would have more real-world consequences. Especially those memes depicting gender violence. More of an emphasis should be placed in the types of posts, pictures, and thoughts that we share on the internet.

It’s almost as if all of the social media platforms should have a “do you really want to post this?” confirmation screen before talking about how inebriated they were the night before. With groups like the Everyday Sexism Project and the Women Action Media (WAM) Network and their recent success in the #fbrape campaign, can’t stronger efforts be made to encourage users to watch what they post?

If not for the morality of it, but for self-preservation — because those wild pictures are definitely not going to help you land that dream job. Not all of your “friends” and “followers” want to know every single detail of your life. Yes there are some amendment rights being called in to question here, but there are also some coming from the other side of the aisle. Shouldn’t there be a limit as to how deep into our personal lives the government can go?

Perhaps this is just a double-edged sword that is destined to cut both ways. Yet, it gets harder and harder to take social media seriously when all you see are memes, derogatory comments, and soap-box speech. Does this mean that you should do a “friend” or “follower” purge (nothing like the new movie … just “unfriending”) once in awhile,  absolutely.

Turning your Facebook profile picture into a particular logo, such as the Human Rights Campaign Equality symbol, for a month does not make you an advocate for the LGBT community. Yes, you took a stand in solidarity for a cause, but what else did you do about it? After sharing the video of the Peace Poets of New York City, posting about how messed up “stop and frisk” is — did you join a rally or protest?

Accessibility to information and technology does not equate to tangible change, as it usually takes direct action (that may utilize IT) to see results. The gift and the curse of social media is, although it has the power to unite many and spark uprisings and movements, often times it can be the cause of over sharing or personal information, or just over sharing period. This will just allow for this generation and those after us to become even more desensitized to what they see, both in person and virtually, as social media constantly gets redefined. 


This post originally appeared on PolicyMic.com - if you click the link in my menu you can read this piece and others on that platform.  All rights reserved. 

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