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

Methodology/ Description

What Can Twitter be to Minorities?

When often discussing the digital divide minorities are seen as using the internet for nothing more than what many data sets claim as fun. They are more likely to participate in activities such as looking up music or preoccupy themselves with social media sites (Nakamura, pg 182). I focused on the changes new generations are making on the social media website Twitter. Twitter is a social media site where each of your posts are limited to 140 characters. Twitter is aimed towards younger audiences because this type of post character limit can make it quicker for people to read. Another great feature for Twitter  is you can curate what you want to see and who you want to follow. You are able to save search requests so you can revisit again. The use of hashtags (#) combine with words or phrases allows you to follow a line of conversation with people who have posted the same hashtag in their tweets. 

Twitter can provide fast and easy access for those with mobile internet. In the Digital Difference  survey it  says "those with lower household income levels are more likely than other groups to say that their phone is their main source of internet access" (Digital Difference, pg 2). Twitter is also an app on a phone so it can still be accessed on an easy interface. Easy access and the use of hashtags lets there be an easier way to communicate with one's community.

Minority Participation on Twitter

With the rise in police brutality against African Americans there has been a consistent use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. One of the most famous uses was the Zimmerman case where a cop shot an unarmed African American teenager. Individuals who were in town or around the area informed people around the world under the hashtag #Zimmerman and #BlackLivesMatter. This also demonstrates the power of new media versus old media. News reports can give us a biased version of what is going on in at the scene but the people of the town can post their truths. As McClain write in his article, "Social media has allowed its members to share documentary evidence of police abuse, spread activist messages, and forge a collective meaning out of a heartrending news" (Nation ). The Black lives matters hashtag is supported by young activists to let the public know of killings the news refuses to talk about. It would make sense that African Americans have the most activity on Twitter (Pew, pg 4). They keep the general public aware of their presence online and in the public with, "3.4 million tweets regarding the police killings of black people and racial-justice organizing," (Nation). Even though they participate in social media sites, they know how to use them to their advantage.

Many minorities have taken to using Twitter and other social medias to make their race known. For Hispanics, there are many Twitter accounts determined to create a space for Latino voices. For example the account @projectenye (Project ñ) is focused on first generation Latinos who are born in the United States. They write articles and highlight Latino creators, such as professionals, online content creators, and young people making a difference. There is a different account called @Latinoartsnet (Latino Arts Network) which focuses on promoting Latino arts in California. These accounts are created for the community to be involved, to make Latinos' presence known to many. They even target the many issues of gentrification happening in East LA.

With American media refusing to portray minorities in the right it has come to our newer generation to attempt to right the wrongs they are faced with. Because younger generations have more technology available than a few years ago, it is much easier to create content. Recently gaining attention is the Asian American art group known as @SadAsianGirls (Sad Asian Girls Club). This group focuses on Asian representation as well as  feminism and racism. One of their most popular projects was gathering 100 stereotypes about Asian women. They created posters  from these statements and posted them up.


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