Race and the Digital: Racial Formation and 21st Century Technologies

The World of Pinterest Is The World Of The Few by Alan Evangelista

Over the past two decades, our society has seen an increase in the number of computers, cellphones, tablets, and other information and communication technologies that seem to be having positive impacts on people’s social, cultural, political, and academic lives. Beyond just facilitating communication, advancements of ICTs now allows people to actively engage with and participate in the creation and distribution of media content. This is done through new media platforms such as blogs, online video games, wikis, and social media sites. In spite of the apparent spread and accessibility of ICTs however, there seems to be growing disparities in the ownership, access, and participation of ICTs and new media platforms among individuals from different demographic backgrounds. This is known as the digital divide. According to Gilbert (2010), within the context of the United States, “poor people, racialized minorities—particularly African Americans and Latinos—women, inner city and rural residents, and the elderly are all groups that are disadvantaged in relation to ICTs” (1002). Focusing on the social media site, Pinterest, and looking at data from the Pew Research Center on the Percentage of Internet Users Who Use Pinterest and from the Pew Hispanic Center on Technology Use by Race and Ethnicity (2010), I look to answer the way race shapes the nature of access and participation of ICTs and what the implications of ICT access and participation disparities among minoritized communities are. I find that Latino/as and African Americans are less “connected” to the Internet than their white counterparts and are less likely to participate in the expression and distribution of creativity and culture found on Pinterest. 


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