Racism is woven into the fabric of America's society. It's as ingrained in the minds and hearts of many as high school Friday night football is ingrained as a tradition in the South. But let me be very clear, there is a significant number of Americans that are immune to this disease. And for those, I applaud you for standing up and resisting the ignorance that continuously plagues our society. Where is this blog post going? Some American’s disdain for diversity and their racist nature has created a weapon against the very ground this country is supposed to symbolize - freedom, freedom of speech, and more importantly, liberty and justice for all.
With the emergence of new technology; Facebook and Twitter mostly, Russians in 2016 used these active social platforms to promote hate and divide our nation even more. I cannot, however, blame it all on Russians. As an adversary, Russia found our Achilles heel, poked and provoked many Americans to divide our Nation further. As people of color continue to fight for equity in the "Land of the Free," Russians used our plight and our cause to intensify our hunger and fight for fairness. But we, Black Americans and other people of color, shared posts after posts feeding and fueling the Russian propaganda across popular social media platforms. If this country weren't so racially divided, the Russians would have had one less weapon to use in 2016 to disrupt our presidential election. But they did, and they won. The result for most Americans is heartbreak, fear, and a looming overhead cloud of uncertainty. For the Americans that got what they elected, time and history will tell if the outcome will live up to their expectations. But the heart of this blog post isn't just about Russia and racism. It's about social media engagement, freedom of speech and controlling propaganda. It's about government regulation or the lack thereof regarding emerging media technologies. It’s about social platform companies not in the business of neutrality. Could the result of the 2016 election had a different outcome if the government, Facebook and Twitter had better regulations and control over how communication disseminates over social media platforms? And what would free public cyberspace control look like in a country that promotes itself as a free democracy and prides itself in free speech? What will regulations look like for Americans? How will our regulations and internet laws work globally? I don't know the answers to some of these questions, but what I'm hoping to start is a sincere and honest dialogue on these pressing issues.
There are many lessons to be learned from the 2016 presidential election. First, diversity is America's most prominent strength, yet it is our biggest weakness. Racism is real in America, and with the rapid growth of emerging technologies, there needs to be a better oversight in its use. With this also means each of us taking responsibility to be more mindful of what we write and even more vigilant in choosing what we share online. Being part of a global village means we share responsibility for our brothers and sisters, regardless of color, race, gender, creed, or economic status. We are all one family, and yes, like most families, we sometimes bicker and disagree, but we have to find a way to live harmoniously in our village. That starts with an open, honest and respectful conversation between you and me.
When you retreat home for the holidays, take time and think about us and how you use social platforms to communicate. Share with your family about us. Us is you and me. Us is the woman and man that doesn't worship like you or me. Us is the little boy and girl that doesn't look like you or me. Us is also the other person posting on social media that perhaps do not know but needs to be informed that his or her post may be false. Dialogue about taking individual responsibility not to share those falsehoods even further. We are us. Be safe and happy holidays to all.
Melvin Bogard, Graduate Student
Master of Arts in Emerging Media
Loyola University Maryland