Racism in Social Media
The internet is a wonderful place to meet new people, find new role models, and to put yourself out there. However; there is a lot of negativity in the media. Something someone said in the past, can majorly impact them in the present. Whether you’re a viewer or a public figure, what you say and do, can change another’s perspective of you, especially on social media.
Recently, a few social media stars have been deemed racists because of old tweets or videos using racial slurs or terms. This has caused them to lose a lot of followers as well as losing respect from many. Other fans however, have forgiven them and are defending them. It all depends on how much the star means to the fan, and what was said for them to get hate.
We asked five freshman from Villa Park High School this question: if someone on social media you looked up to, said something racist in the past, how would you feel about them now? All of the girls had similar answers. “depends on how long ago, how old they were, the context, and if they still believe it,” Katherine Chrystie states. Jessica Schram seems very forgiving as she says, “Not sure it depends if they regret it at all and what context it was in but I probably wouldn’t judge them for it.” Savanna Billante adds, “I don’t know it really depends on how long ago they said it and if they apologized for it and really realize that what they said was wrong.” Alexa Trcka and Payton Seip have slightly different opinions. Alexa thinks they are taught a lesson, “I would still view them the same and it depends on the comment, but I think the role model would need to learn from their mistakes.” Payton says, “If said celebrity were to make a racial slur, I would not automatically forgive them, i’d have to know everything that was going on in the star’s life at the time, the context of the comment, and their mental state when saying what they did.” These girls would probably be the more supportive followers, but that’s not all of them.
One Social media star that got judged for their past has been Tana Mongeau, in which she used to use the N word (hard R) and multiple videos/tweets have risen from her past; when she was 13-15 years old. Since then, she has supported movements like the Black Lives Matter movement, and has apologized and recognized her mistakes. We asked people from around the country, through social media, about how they felt about their favorite social media star saying racial slurs in their past. Cameryn says “ The past is the past, and although we can’t change that, we certainly can change the future, which she has. Although she did say those slurs in her past, which I do not support in any way, she has apologized, and has learned from her past and changed for the better.” Although Cameryn does not condone her old behaviors, she seems to still love Tana as much, but just doesn’t like her past. Another person, Aino, said “ I find it okay, because she owned up to it and has educated herself and her friends. Usually people bring it up to start drama, but people should just accept that and move on, she has grown from it.” As you can see, she believes in change and learning from mistakes that have happened in the past.
Another example of this would be of James Charles, who is the very first Coverboy of the Covergirl brand! He recently went on a trip to Africa for his Senior trip, and tweeted about his conversation with his friend asking if he could get ebola in Africa. Many people took offense to this, as it generalized all of Africa into having Ebola. Now, tweets have risen of him saying silly things, as one does, that could offend people depending on the way you viewed it. Because of this, he has lost many followers, and is now being watched under a microscope. This means that when he does not look “perfect” to people, they pick at his imperfections and start to tease him. Not only did this cause him to lose the respect of many, but this has put a bad look on his reputation toward his fans, and companies he works with. He has since put out an apology post on Instagram, stating that after his trip, he has been taught by the people of Africa and learned why what he said was wrong and about privilege. This post was a sincere apology, as he tells of his mistakes and how he learned from them, saying he has changed and will be better.
Through the growth of social media and new generations, many mistakes like these will continue to happen, and not only will it teach them a lesson, but impact their life forever. Fellow YouTuber with over 413,000 subscribers, Olivia Cara, says, “ I think people can change for sure, and as long as they genuinely have changed and know their wrongs. They should own up to what they did, apologize, and then my opinion on them wouldn’t change. You can’t hold grudges forever over mistakes [we all make them!]”. There are many more bigger issues in the world than worrying about what someone has said in their past if they have acknowledged and changed their way of being. Why look back on what happened yesterday, when you can look forward to what can happen tomorrow.