Black Women and Internet Harassment: Why I Am Leaving the Internet

I am choosing to leave the internet because the amount of harassment and bullying that I endure as a Black woman is taking a toll on my emotional/mental wellbeing.

In 2009, when I was researching for a college paper, I inadvertently  encountered some Youtube videos by a user (who has since renounced bashing Black women) who had literally hundreds of videos demeaning Black women. I was so shocked by what I heard that I continued to listen to his videos (against the advice of my mother) and this was my first taste of online/racial harassment. Since then, many more people of all backgrounds have created YouTube accounts to specifically harass African-American women.

The negativity became an addiction, like porn or something. At times, I would try to avoid sites that bashed Black women, but sometimes I wouldn’t have to even look for them, they would find me and there is an abundance of negativity directed against African-American women on the internet.

The harassment does not end on YouTube, the harassment exists on blogs, forums and on social media sites like twitter and Facebook.  You might say that everyone gets harassed online, but no, I am positive that Black women are disproportionately targeted for online harassment. There was a study that showed that African-Americans were more likely to experience online harassment. There have been no studies that I am aware of that focus on African-American women, online harassment and the impact that it has on our mental health/wellbeing, but I am certain that if you digest this negativity there is no way that it will not impact you negatively on a mental/emotional level. If any professors or psychologist are reading this, it might be something worth studying.

Personally, I struggled with depression and anxiety and even my college grades were  negatively affected by this culture of online harassment and degradation against Black women.

The internet can be a barbarous place. People will say and write things online unfiltered, so the depths of human depravity and cruelness can be explored without consequence. I’ve been called a black ho, bed wench, n-gger, sh-t-skin, I’ve been threatened with lynching. I’ve been on multiple blogs where I’ve encountered men demeaning Black women and referring to black women as ugly monkeys and no most of these were NOT white supremacist websites in case you are wondering. I have tried multiple means to combat this discrimination, including starting a blog to specifically track internet attacks against Black women, but the job was too big. There was way too much harassment for me to track and it would not have been mentally healthy for me to do so. Most infamously, Psychology Today, a supposed reputable online magazine, published an article in 2011 that claimed that Black women were scientifically and objectively the least attractive people.

I know that I am not the only Black woman who is aware of the harassment and special brand racism that we deal with online.

See article by Terrell Jermaine Starr on Black women and harassment on twitter

I no longer want to deal with it. I choose not to deal with it online. Not only has this harassment affected my self esteem and mental health, but the most devastating impact it has had has been on my offline life. Encountering nothing but negativity online for about 7 years has made me short-tempered, paranoid and irritable with the people that I love most, I’m not able to socialize and bond with people the way  that I used to, I have even lower self esteem. I feel like I am wasting my life on here and missing out on good times with people who actually care about me and don’t judge me based off of my skin color, i.e my family and my friends.

The sad thing is, getting offline won’t make racism go away, no it certainly won’t. All I have to do is recall the incident where I inquired about a job with a manager at a local pharmacy,only to be told that he wasn’t hiring, only to witness him hire countless white friends of mine shortly thereafter, to know that racism extends beyond the internet.

But, I can’t spend my life trying to make people see me as human being and an individual when they have blinders on. Someone told me “if someone judges you just based off of your being an African-American woman, then they are the ignorant ones and that is their problem, not yours. Don’t let them ruin your life.” Tis true, all you can do in life is worry about those who matter and make sure that you’re doing what you need to do to live right and make sure that you are treating others with respect and be an example of kindness.

Forgiveness is something that I’ll need to practice and pray for to live well.

This is not to say that nothing good has come out of my time on the internet, I’ve made some real friends, I’ve learned a lot, especially a lot about the different cultures across Africa and the history of African-Americans. The negativity forced me to research more to find out the root of all these stereotypes. Books like Ain’t I a Woman by Debra Gray White and Sister Citizen by Melissa Harris Perry have helped.

But, I have to move on.  This negativity online has become too much and the only way I can improve my life is to get away from the internet altogether because it’s impossible to avoid the negativity no matter where I go as a Black woman online.

My game plan is to avoid the internet, unless it is for work-realted or school-related research etc.  and to surround myself with friends and family who care about me, become more social and avoid people who mistreat me, get my life back on track and that pretty much sums up all you can do in this life. As Dr. Seuss says, “those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

I am hoping that once my health care get straightened out, I’ll be able to see a therapist at least twice.

My plan is to only sign onto the internet for leisure 1-2 times per month and for no more than 1-3 hours at a time. During those times, I will do a post on this blog, but I will not be venturing onto YouTube, unless it’s for educational purposes and I am avoiding blogs that are not safe spaces for Black women. Other than that, I am getting off of here.

I am considering installing software to block off the internet on my non-work computer during blots of time to avoid temptation.

I encourage Black women to be careful about the negativity that you take in on the internet. I am not saying that getting off the internet will end your experience with racism, please…but it is one aspect of racism that you can control in your life and avoid.

If you can, I would limit my time on the internet altogether.

It is funny because  you wouldn’t think that words on a computer screen matter and it seems so silly and stupid, but words can hurt…they really can hurt and violence often starts with words…after this weekend, i’ll be starting my game plan.

The internet can be a good thing, in small doses, but beware.

“Those who live out more of their lives online—whether for work, pleasure, or both—are more likely to experience harassment.”

source

Christian Bale Stars in Movie Exodus, They Won’t Be Getting My Money!

what Zipporah probably looked like…

Let’s discuss this new, up and coming movie Exodus, which stars Christian Bale.  This famous story of the Bible is one that most people are familiar with but…I bet that you didn’t know that Moses’ wife, Zipporah was a dark-skinned Cushitic woman. And you won’t know, do you know why?.. You won’t know, unless you actually study the story because in the movie they cast a white actress as Zipporah.

Not only that, but Black people are almost entirely absent from the film, even though during that era there were MANY Black Egyptians in prominent positions. The only Black people apparently are portrayed as thieves and criminals. Also, Egypt is in Africa after all, not Europe. Therefore the odds of people looking like WHITE EUROPEANS is slim! Therefore, due to this erasure of Black people and other people of color,  I will not be going to see the movie. I can just read the Bible if I want the real story any way.

Grand Jury has spoken: Officer Darren Wilson will NOT face any charges

Don’t be mad, don’t take to the streets, even if the system can feel like a cheat

Don’t cry or yell just because  this world basically tells you

“Go to hell!”

We mourn, we weep and we fear in our sleep

Like they were men  in white sheets,

Instead of all blue and badged, nice and neat

We could say fuck the police or down with the pigs,

But we’ve been saying that since the time when our parents  were saying “Ya dig?”

True, we won’t be hanged from trees and by the grace of God we’re legally and technically free

No longer three fifths of a person by law, we should be able to stand proud and tall

“Change we can believe in,” that’s what they said after all…

Legal, fair and just, that’s what they said applied to us

No more unjust, disgust or unwarranted distrust

These were the words, the hopes and the dreams,

but as we grow older, we wonder what does it all mean?

Blind to race and color, they claim

Judge only by character, for we’re all the same

these words appealing on paper, they may be

but, how can they be true when one man walks free

while the other, unarmed and all,

Gunned down like an animal

No Fair Trial, in accordance with law

Whether it be skittles and tea, whistling at the corner store

or surrendering hands , not resisting please!

Are we really who we say we are?

All men created equal, our immortal declaration.

Were these words meant for every member of this great nation?

I don’t know, if only I could ask Trayvon or maybe Michael Brown

All I know is with every broken declaration, my heart is more cast down

Aggressive, Angry Black Women On the Subway!

The View, recently showed a clip of a [black] woman who (it seems) instigated a conflict with a hispanic man on the subway. The woman got in his face and was being obnoxious. They went back and forth and exchanged words, ultimately, the woman hit him with her shoes. The man then became very angry and slapped her across the face, she flew back a few feet. The video has since gone viral. Some people have said that the woman deserved to be slapped, others have said that the man shouldn’t have hit her back.

I wil not be showing the clip, but all I can say is the woman was ignorant and the man could have walked away from the confrontation. However, a trend that I’ve noticed is that the media loves to portray Black woman as aggressive and instead of viewing the incident on the subway as an ignorant woman whose behavior is more of an indicator of her upbringing and values than her race, the incident was viewed as being a typical black woman in action.

Worldstar hiphop is the biggest perpetuator of the angry, violent black woman trope, which is why I do not support their website. You can just imagine the comments about Black women that resulted from this video.

However there were even  some Black women who jumped on the bandwagon and were quick to throw other black women under the bus, based off of stereotypical assumptions that Black women are more prone to violence than others. I stand by my assertion that you can find aggressive and ignorant people in all ethnicities and I know for a fact that the media selects who they want to portray as violent and who they want to portray as victims.

You can have nineteen sweet, kind Black women and one loud, aggressive Black woman and the media will choose to focus on the one ignorant black woman and cancel out the twenty sweet, kind Black women.

Ultimately, no matter how hard you as a Black woman try to distance yourself from Black women who behave in ignorant manners by throwing all Black woman under the bus, ultimately ALL Black women are hurt when we are portrayed as being exceptionally  violent  by the media. These images make it a lot easier for people to dismiss Black women when we are victims.  For example, when a Black woman goes missing, the media seldom reports on it. When a white woman goes missing, the media goes into a frenzy. Why? Because white women are continuously stereotyped as being worthy of protection whereas Black women are seen as violent and unworthy of protection or dignity. This is why some people do not believe that we can be real victims. If we are brutalized by police, we must have done something to instigate that brutality, if we are raped, we must have seduced the man because we are too aggressive and violent to be true victims.  This isn’t to excuse the behavior of the woman on the subway, she was ignorant, completely wrong and she needs to be held accountable for her actions.

However, Black women should not have to be held accountable for the actions of one woman, but it’s apparent that when one Black woman messes up, all Black women have to be thrown under the bus.

I wrote a post a while ago about aggressive white women, please feel free to check it out.

I have many questions:

If the woman on the subway had been blonde, would it have gone viral, would she have even been slapped the way the black woman was?

Wy do we never see clips like the ones below portrayed in the media?

When will we see more videos like this on the View?

Being a Member of the Token Black Girl Club

In response to Erica Joy’s article.

I believe that every Black woman has felt what Ms. Joy felt at some point in her life. As an African-American woman, who was raised in a predominately white neighborhood, attended a predominately white school and later a predominately white college, (which at one time used to pay to send the Black students to other colleges), I can safely say that I know how Ms. Joy feels.

Most of us who have been immersed in white culture since the day we were born have struggled to assimilate. As a young Black girl in a white environment, I had to struggle every day just to feel significant. I overcompensated for being different by becoming the class clown. I was the “chubby, funny black girl.” Of course, I did have a circle of people who I would consider real friends, but there were times when I was forced to recognize that I was different than everyone else.

The first time that I remember was when I started school and my Grandmother took me to Toys R Us to pick out a doll that I had dreamt about for weeks. When I went to pick out the doll with my grandmother, I was faced with making a choice between the Brown, kinky-haired version of the doll and blue-eyed, blonde version of the doll, she was the version that had been promoted in all the television commercials. I automatically selected the white doll, only to be told some months later, by a white classmate during show and tell, that this couldn’t be my baby doll because she was white. A time later, I would carry the same blonde, blue-eyed baby doll  as I toured a slave plantation (my mother thinks it was Monticello, though I can’t recall the name). I will never forget walking down the dirt path as slave cabins surrounded me and clutching the blonde, blue-eyed doll to my chest.

The times came again when I was invited to my white friend’s country club one summer to go swimming. We ate curly fries, we swam and laughed. I didn’t really put much thought into the fact that I was the only Black person there. It wasn’t until later that I realized that the absence of Black people was by design. Black people weren’t permitted into this privately-owned, elite country club. Those who ran the club just screened them out. Rarely did they even have Black guests at the club, I guess I just “lucked out,” when my friend brought me with her. 

I was reminded of my otherness when I attended the school dances in Middle and Ninth grade  and watched my white female friends  get asked to dance time and time again and I sat on the sidelines, wondering why I was condemned to be a wallflower.

The time came when I had to sit in my class and listen to a white male classmate gripe about why we had affirmative action and I had to sit silently and listen as he ranted about “why we had to have a Miss BLACK America, when we don’t have a Miss White America?” He talked as if I wasn’t even there and I didn’t say anything. I couldn’ tell him that every day was Miss White America and MR. White America too at that.

The time came many times when I had to deal with my white friends touching my hair and cooing over how “cute” I was even though I was 16 years old. Don’t get me wrong, I made some good, true friends and they were the ones who saw me as a human being and not a stereotype or a plaything, but I felt the otherness again and again, but I didn’t recognize it to be otherness for the longest time. I was in denial and I always found excuses for why someone might have felt that it was okay to make a Black joke or why it was okay that people pet my hair like I was a puppy. The really sad thing was, I had relaxed my hair to make it more like my white friends and I still got petted and patronized. So all I got was a burnt scalp, broken-off hair and more condescension no matter how hard I tried to assimilate.

That is the thing, you can try to assimilate as much as you like, most likely you will still be seen as “the other,” at the end of the day.

I think we all go through a phase of denial and assimilation, only to have our “last straw.” Just as Ms. Joy mentioned that her last straw came when, ” [a coworker]  not so subtly hinted that my connecting with the few other black techs in other offices (who happened to be male) was anything other than professional,” I had my last straw when I went to inquire about a job at a local pharmacy where my [white] friend worked. When I got there, the manager said that they weren’t really looking to hire any graduating seniors. I took him for his word. It wasn’t until some time later when my friend nonchalantly mentioned that her manager “kept hiring all these seniors for two months before they go to college,” that I realized that I had not once seen a Black person working in that pharmacy. I asked around and it turns out there was one Black person who had worked there years ago, but nevertheless she was the token.

It wasn’t until college where I found refuge in my African-American women’s studies course that I really came to appreciate who I was and that learned not to be ashamed of my identity.

Today, I usually am still the minority at my jobs, but it’s gotten better. I am currently at a nonprofit organization where there are about 4 Black women, including me. But, I am sure as I go throughout life, there will be many times when I’m “the other,” once again.

So, I think we can all identify with Ms. Joy’s feelings of isolation. It’s a shame that some people will never understand the impact that the constant othering and degradation can have on a person’s spirit though.

Che Guevara

Originally posted on Abagond:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA A poster based on the iconic photograph taken by Alberto Korda in March 1960

Ernesto “Che” Guevara (1928-1967), an Argentinian-born communist revolutionary and guerrilla leader, was Fidel Castro’s right-hand man during the Cuban Revolution. He wrote the book on guerrilla warfare. He went on to fight in failed revolutions in D.R. Congo and in Bolivia, where he was killed by the CIA.

He is a hero not just in Cuba but to everyone who loves freedom, says Nelson Mandela. In the US he is part of the intellectual tradition of radical thought among Blacks and Chicanos – and, among Whites, a cool T-shirt.

Guevara came from a well-to-do family in Argentina. He was part Irish, part Spanish. Growing up he read Marx and Neruda and listened to the stories of those who had fought in the Spanish Civil War.

Cordoba_2274 Che Guevara’s motorcycle. Source

During and after his studies to become a doctor…

View original 452 more words

What Am I Going to Read Next…?

The following is a list of books that I’ve recently read and books that I hope to read and or reference for research purposes in the future.

What I’ve Read Recently:

1. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

A great story that tells the story of colonization from the perspective of  Okonkwo, a man from a village in what we now call Nigeria. It is great to have a story about colonization told from the perspective of a Black person.

2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Officially, one of my favorite stories. It takes place in the English countryside in the 19th century. It is a love story, a tragic love story where class, ethnicity and gender all intermingle.

3. 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

The true story of Solomon Northup, with the movie receiving an academy award for best picture, I don’t feel like I need to say much about the story. However, there are subtle differences between the book and the movie. Edwin Epps is actually worse in the book than in the movie.

4. Wonder by R. J Palacio

A very moving story about a young boy who has a facial disability and his coming of age in a real school for the first time. There are ups and downs and challenges and the story is told from multiple perspectives. It is truly moving. It’s a classic bildungsroman.

5. The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

A classic masterpiece, great story. It takes place in the 1600s in Puritan Boston. There is a great twist in the story.

6. Cane River by Lalita Tademy

This is a great book about a mixed-race African-American family growing up on Cane River in the 19th century. It is the true story of Lalita Tademy’s family and it is a page-turner. It is really well-written and I honestly

7.  Black Boy by Richard Wright

A classic story, a true story about Richard Wright coming of age in Mississippi and then migrating to Chicago. Another bildungsroman.

What I Am Currently Reading…

Far From Home Naima B Robert – It is a story about the war in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) and the secret that bonds two young women, one white, one black together. It is really good so far…I’ll have to let you know how it turns out and do a more detailed review later.

Autobiography of Malcolm X- True story of Malcolm X’s life.

What I Plan To Read…

1. The Bible

2. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

3. Jazz by Toni Morrison

4. Pudd n’ Head Wilson

5. To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway

6. The Subterraneans by Jack Kerouac

7. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

8. From the Mississippi Delta by Endesha Ida Mae Holland

9. The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

Christian Books I Will Read/Reference: 

1. The Bible

2. Be Restored : God’s Power for African-American Women

3. Your Inner Eve: Discovering God’s Woman Within by Rev. Dr. Susan Newman

4. Women, Food and God

Non-Fiction Books

1. Black Knights: The Story of Tuskegee Airmen

2. Online narratives/ journals from antebellum era in the west

TBD…