“Oh no, not another racist tweet!”
“Are you kidding me? Another blackface party?”
Unfortunately, these phrases are often uttered by myself as the world of social media disseminates various instances of racism, prejudice or discrimination of someone who mistakenly thinks their words are protected from the public. No private profile is legitimately private and anyone has the ability to copy and paste a status or repost a video even after its subsequent deletion. You’d think that after major events, such as the University of Oklahoma SAE racist chant video and many other racy posts before them, that people would begin to get the memo right? Wrong. People who find themselves in the hot seat after situations like the one mentioned above have a very similar misconception that their posts are hidden from the “wrong people” and that those who do come across their video will push it under the rug.
Take Erika Escalante as an example. This college student posted a tweet of her and a friend picking cotton with the caption “Our inner nigger came out today.” Shortly afterward, her post was seen, shared and later forwarded to her boss who immediately fired her. Escalante’s next course of action included deleting her social media pages and appearing on local news stations explaining herself.
During the news interview, Escalante said she wasn’t thinking and that she doesn’t consider herself a racist. She just had an idea of a post that seemed funny or entertaining at the time and went with it without considering the consequences. But where is the line drawn between funny and offensive and why is this line crossed on what seems like a regular basis? I believe it goes back to a person’s everyday surroundings.
Escalante could have a friend circle in which she can comfortably say the word “nigger” and no one flinch or approach her about its negative connotation against an entire race. Therefore, when she posts a tweet like the one she did, it’s almost as ordinary or commonplace as tweeting about what she had for dinner. However, what Escalante failed to consider is indeed how her post effected the people outside of her friend group. The people who don’t find posts like hers amusing and instead, rather offensive and distasteful. These people are the “outsiders” if you will, or the people outside of her own private sphere who aren’t as inclined to defend her or keep her post under wraps. The ones who can make “private posts” public and even viral, cause a stir of emotions and backlash to the poster who “just wasn’t thinking.” As a result of instances like this, tensions often rise and the discussion of race that so many people don’t believe needs to be had rears its head again to the forefront. Coincidence?
All in all, people do make mistakes. It’s a part of life. However, it shouldn’t be taken lightly when the same mistakes are being made over and over again.
Lauren Weems, Staff Writer