Harassed and Silenced
Here in the United States of America, we have the right to free speech. Because we have the right to say whatever we want, unnecessary hate speech is rampant. One group that has mastered the art of unnecessary hate speech is white Americans. What else do you expect from a group of people whose history is riddled with hatred of the other, rape, murder and annihilation of entire cultures?
I recently came across the story of Ijeoma Oluo on Facebook. This beautiful, courageous black woman decided to take a road trip through Western America. This is definitely something I doubt I would ever be brave enough to do. Anyway, during this journey through red states and white faces, Ijeoma stopped at a Cracker Barrel (a very fitting name for this restaurant) to grab a bite to eat. To no one’s surprise, she was met by a sea of whiteness which, again to no one’s surprise, made her feel uneasy. So Ijeoma took to Twitter and tweeted this:
Jokingly said but very truthful.
These are thoughts that might cross the mind of most people of color in the same situation. This single, truthful tweet ignited a wild fire of threats and verbal assault from the Bob’s and Becky’s. I am still trying to understand how such a harmless tweet enraged these fragile white people so much. This went beyond racial slurs. Ijeoma was sent death threats, rape threats, people involved her children in the matter and threatened them as well. I am sickened by this but not altogether surprised. And it utterly sickening that I am not surprised.
This is what kills me though.
Ijeoma reported the assault multiple times on Facebook and took to posting pictures of the words being sent to her to force Facebook to respond. And so Facebook responded…by suspending Ijeoma for 3 days. Take a look at just one of the messages Ijeoma was sent through Facebook:
Facebook users used the platform to verbally assault someone in the most horrific way and Facebook decided to silence the victim rather than address the attackers. What does this mean? This means that Facebook agrees with Travis Lawler. Facebook agrees with the hate speech. Facebook supports sending death and rape threats to women of color. While I understand this country protects freedom of speech, social media platforms have guidelines against the posting of certain things. Apparently, on Facebook, it’s okay to assault others but not okay to speak out against your attackers.
I cannot even properly articulate how disappointed and disgusted I am with Facebook but as with most things in this country, I am not entirely surprised. When has Facebook ever been our ally?