Friday, November 14, 2008

The Facebook War (on Racists)

A negative, racially tinged backlash regarding Obama’s win was bound to happen. But in the era of social networking and web-based instant information, we are seeing it in its rawest form, and with an interesting new twist.

I recently saw a post on a friend’s page on Facebook titled “Racism is so played out.” It was an online photo album put together by a Facebook member listed as J.W.JAVIS, which according to his account:


“WAS CREATED WHEN TWO OF J.W. JAVIS' FRIENDS POSTED RACIALLY OFFENSIVE COMMENTS ON FACEBOOK FOLLOWING THE ELECTION OF BARACK OBAMA. RATHER THAN REPRIMAND THEM DIRECTLY, J.W. DECIDED TO POST THEIR PROFILE PICTURES IN ALBUM ALONG WITH THE STATEMENTS THEY HAD MADE. HIS POINT WAS TO "NAME-AND-SHAME" THEM. FOLLOWING J.W.'S EXAMPLE, FRIENDS STARTED SUBMITTING THE NAMES AND PHOTOS OF PEOPLE THEY KNEW WHO HAD MADE RACIALLY OFFENSIVE STATEMENTS TO J.W. AND HE ADDED THEM TO HIS ALBUM.”



The album contains about 40 pictures (at last count) with screen shots of various Facebook members with their full names as displayed on their profile, their profile pictures, and their apparently offending posts, most written in the personal status section, where people are encouraged to write a comment on their status, physically, emotionally or otherwise. The posts range from benignly ignorant to deeply disturbing.

Examples include a post from someone listed as Jaime Sherman saying “Ninety-six percent of blacks voted for Obama for handouts” to someone listed as Linsdey Boggs, whose status was shown as “Lindsey is going to shoot herself before all the (n-word) s get a chance…” One person featured in the online album was Zane A Kerney who supposedly writes: “Nobody likes racists, its against our constitution. that why we must kill all the black people. thats right i said it, every black person who voted for barack should be hung”

The types of people featured in this album seem to be from all over the country. The profile pictures show athletes in game gear including Texas Longhorn lineman Buck Burnette and soldiers, in uniform, including one photo listed as Taylor West who supposedly posts “What do we do!?! The antichrist is in Office now!!! KILL OBAMA!!”

The album has spread virally over Facebook and has crossed over to other social network sites such as MySpace. As is common with Facebook, people can post comments on the pictures, and hundreds of members have added their comments repudiating the people being featured.

What is interesting is that other Facebook members are now addressing them directly. One of those featured in the album is Landon Mccart, quoted as writing in his status page “(N-word)...It's the WHITE House. " He found the album where he was being feature and attempted to defend himself in the comments section (spelling and grammar as posted):


im getting liek 50 millino messages of black people calling me a racist..which i am not..we will get to the status story later..

people have been messaging me RUDE, DIRTY, HATEFUL, RACIST, messages and calling me "cracker"....."white boy".......people have just been very vulgar and obscene...its definitely not neccesary.

the story about the status: (which is NOT racist...)

im always messing with one of my BLACK friends about future prez. obama..which is okay...because hes half white, so i can say stuff about him just as much as the next guy..its not a race thing..hes more white than black..anyway, im not ignorant of race or anything else, i cant even joke with a friend about something without half
of facebook jumping down my throat?? thats not right...how did you even know
my status said that anyway?

Landon touches upon the bigger question – for the most part, status updates are for the eyes of friends only. A Facebook friend can only become so with the permission of the user. However, in these social networking sites, one’s “friends” can easily grow into the multiple of hundreds, not all of whom are especially close or share the same views. What is happening is that as people are seeing their “friends” post potentially racist or damaging comments, they are print-screening the commentary and posting it for the general public to see, thereby exposing the people to the world in a manner they perhaps would not otherwise have wanted to be seen.

The impact of this exposure is real. The Texas Longhorn lineman Buck Burnette was dismissed from his team after these comments were made public and people started to contact UT. According to comments under her picture, Linsdey Boggs was supposedly kicked out of her school though that hasn’t been confirmed. Taylor West’s comments will most likely be investigated by authorities. This doesn’t include the hundreds of hate mail messages people like Landon Mccart must be getting, now that a simple Google search can get anyone within a virtual arm’s distance of communicating with anyone else. JW Javis makes a point to include in each post the following (spelling and grammar as posted):
People DO NOT THINK FOR ONE SECOND ALL WHITE PEOPLE ARE LIKE THIS..DON"T LET A FEW IGNORANT FOOLS HAVE YOU THINK EVERYONE IS LIKE THAT ..THERE ARE ALL GREAT PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD..BLACK OR WHITE IT DOESN"T MATTER..THERE ARE RACIST PEOPLE IN ALL RACES

And he does admonish those who respond to these people with their own racially based attacks.

What is fascinating is how viral the album and the reactions are getting, and how there are thousands of people who are getting involved in discussions around this subject. This is all happening in the plain site of the social networking community, where their comments and views are public along with names and pictures. They debate in sunlight what people have kept quietly hidden in the dark for centuries.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Winner: The Community Organizer

I wonder if Rudy Giuliani now understands what a Community Organizer means.



Our soon to be 44th President won, in no small part, because of his ability to organize all types of communities across the country. Biggest Voter Turnout In 90 Years, record number of new registered voters, a record get out the vote campaign, and the best ground game ever.

Now that Giuliani has seen the results of community organizing, I wonder if he will give it the respect it deserves.

Congrats President Elect Obama.