July 09, 2008

Seeing The Web's Racist Underbelly Is Saddening and Shocking

This afternoon, I caught a video broadcast with Wayne Sutton and Corvida Raven of SheGeeks.net, where Corvida had the opportunity to share her story of asking Verizon to drop their relationship with Loren Feldman of 1938 Media, in light of his controversial video parodying African American bloggers. While both carried on a strong conversation around the issues of race, bigotry and getting ahead through hard work, their efforts were dwarfed by some of the most hateful, shameful, racist speech I've been exposed to in a very long time.

It's common knowledge that anonymous commenters often fall to the lowest common denominator. The wider the audience, the less respectable the discussion, with YouTube being a perfect example.

Most of the time, the places I engage in social media (and real life) are civil. But as Corvida and Wayne talked about her family's efforts with Verizon, and how black tech bloggers are often stereotyped, with Feldman's video as an example, the Yahoo! Live chat screen filled with filth, with racist words, references to Kentucky Fried Chicken and watermelon, comments on Obama, and discussion of penis sizes.

Essentially, you name the negative stereotypes and hatred that could be spewed against the African American bloggers, and they were there.

I don't want to spread the filth that was said during the chat, but it's worth exposing these purveyors of hatred, to illustrate the nonsense. If only there were a way to break through their anonymity...

There's no question the work was done by a few anonymous malcontents, but it was eye opening to unfortunately be reminded those people are out there, and are willing to share their nonsense in an attempt to intimidate both Wayne and Corvida, in hopes of persuading them to stop. But it didn't work. As Wayne said the issue of Loren Feldman was "a wake-up call for African Americans", today's nonsense was an unfortunate wake-up call for me.

I'm glad both Wayne and Corvida maintained their professional integrity in the face of ridiculous nonsense that could have brought weaker people to tears, but there was absolutely no reason they should have had to put up with that horrible behavior, which, as it was undoubtedly intended to do, made me quite angry.

Forty years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, and with all the advancements we think we've made in Civil Rights, we still have to see this horrible, ridiculous, ignorant junk. I was appalled at what Corvida and Wayne had to suffer through, and I wish I never had to see it again. These people do exist, but they don't deserve a platform, and in this case, there should have been ways to either increase filters, block by IP address or reveal the real names of the trolls.

I am very sorry Corvida and Wayne had to suffer through that in what was otherwise a very engaging disucssion, and I hope this filth doesn't slow any person of any background down for a second.