Anytime I read an article, blog post, or watch a video, I browse through the comments, just to see how people react to various media. Many comments are absurd and not worth reading, but I occasionally find worthwhile insights.
One interesting phenomenon that I have noticed, however, is that racism is alive and well within social media. Although some people would have us believe that racism has faded from our societies, the truth is that most racist people just do not have the audacity vocalize their hatred. But in the anonymity of the Web, they feel quite comfortable expressing their lewd and bigoted opinions.
Whether that bigotry is directed at African Americans, Muslims, Jews, or any other group, the formula is usually the same. The commenter is always anonymous, and the comments reflect deep-seated stereotypes and prejudices that many will pretend to have long forgotten when you meet them face-to-face.
I have no statistics to actually measure just how prevalent this phenomenon is, and short of tracing the origin of each comment, there is no way to know how many are from the same small group of people. Still, it is a not a rare thing, particularly when it comes to YouTube videos.
The other day, I saw a video that portrayed an African American man saying something funny. The video was presented as being humorous, so it is not surprising for comments to also be humorous, but at least one comment carried stereotypes with its attempt at humor. ”This man should be paid with a lifetime supply of fried chicken and grape soda,” the commenter said. Other comments are more blatant, using the “N” word, calling all Muslims terrorists, and other more direct textual attacks.
Racism is not dead at all. It is still in the hearts of many, and when they have no fear of their identity being exposed, racists hold nothing back and make their hatred known.