With mass shootings intended to target minorities and Klan rallies being held just 30 minutes from our school, there’s been a recent surge in the public expression of racism. Why are discriminatory sentiments so commonplace in today’s culture, that it seems almost acceptable to personally use these words and view minorities as lesser?
People are able to spread their beliefs to a network of audiences all over the world through social media. Whether these involve racist attitudes or a benign topic of some sort, it has an effect on the viewers. Online forums can promote hateful speech and inspire impressionable people, especially children, to hold the same beliefs.
A common belief is that social media creates a negative environment in which the most controversial statements are publicized and brought to light.
“Of course, if you say something on social media that’s reasonably nuanced, no one cares. Everybody wants a hot take. And so I think these hot takes, they spread very quickly,” said Mr. Cone, Social Studies teacher.
“It’s really disconcerting because some of it is just so patently false and so clearly mean-spirited and i’m frustrated that it has an audience.”
The activity of online racism has made this language mainstream and seem somewhat acceptable to demonstrate outside of the internet. People have an outlet where they can express their beliefs, no matter how controversial or offensive, and oftentimes, with little moderation if any. This language is often used to make minorities seem less than human, and is then used by politicians and people on social media to illustrate the immigration of nonwhites into America to associate it with a negative connotation.
So what can be done to not allow media to have such a strong impression on a predominantly young and/or receptive audience?
“Let’s train ourselves to be more critical assessors of media. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re left-wing or right-wing, but that you have certain standards for, when the claim is made, how do you evaluate whether it’s true?” said Cone.
“I can be a Republican and you can be a Democrat, and we can interpret things differently, but we should be able to have some sort of ground rules for [true and false claims.]”
Individuals may view immigration as a top priority in America, but many times, certain political policies to approach this problem seem to have racist undertones. We can push for certain legislation that we believe will help our country and its people, but using prejudiced language to promote them isn’t fair politics. The rhetoric used by politicians and the policies they promote greatly shape our way of thinking, and when the president doesn’t seem to denounce white supremacy when given the opportunity, for example, it sets a bad example for the American people.
“[Trump] should’ve done a better job highlighting how the white supremacists have affected the country and how their actions have specifically affected people.” said Nik Lam-Gullett, senior.
“He didn’t do enough to actually condemn white supremacists when it came down to it.”
With offensive words spoken in politics and the media that bring white supremacy-related issues to light again, members of hate groups like the KKK are fueled even more and feel supported in their cause. It’s a scary reality that politicians’ negative words and the media has such a great effect on public perception and the rise of hate groups. By being better assessors of the news we’re exposed to on a daily basis and not allowing politican’s beliefs to shape our own, we can prevent the open expression of racism in our networks of information.