When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. That’s exactly what UNC junior Taylor Webber-Fields did when she created I, Too, Am Carolina, a social media awareness campaign that allows black students at Carolina to share their experiences on a predominately white college campus. Hearing about this campaign inspired me to think about how social media has allowed minorities to create their own voice in the media, a voice that is authentic and user generated. Take for example, Black Twitter. It has been deemed a cultural force in the new media technology age, one that relentlessly responds to racially insensitive pop culture incidents with hashtags such as #HasJustineLandedYet and #PaulasBestDishes. Not familiar with these incidents? Search twitter for these hastags, and Black Twitter will tell you all about it.
Social media movements, such as I, Too, Am Carolina and Black Twitter, allow black people to voice their opinion. This is important because, historically, black people and other minority groups have been underrepresented in the media. I’ve experienced this underrepresentation first hand with the Daily Tar Heel (DTH), UNC’s student ran campus newspaper. In the past four years that I’ve spent on UNC’s campus, I’ve seldom seen black students featured in the paper or events hosted by black student organizations covered. As a result, I feel disconnected from the paper because it does not reflect my life at Carolina and what I’ve experienced. If an issue concerning the black student population is written about, it is usually found in the back page of the newspaper on the opinion page and is written by a black columnist or student reader.
The lack of diversity I’ve seen in the DTH can be attributed to the fact that, in the past, there has been a lack of black staff writers. Although the number of black staff writers has recently increased, the editor’s staff remains predominately white. Until there are black people at the table making decisions about the content of the paper, the black voice will continue to be silenced.
This is why I find the I, Too, Am Carolina campaign so important and relevant to this blog; it acknowledges the fact that the black voice is underrepresented and gives black students on campus the opportunity to be heard via social media. Why wait on the media to cover your story when you can create your own?
As I come to a close with this blog post, an ominous question rests in the back of mind. If the media has historically been able to successfully marginalize black people, what’s stopping the internet from doing the same? So as I wrap up this blog post, I’d like to leave you all with some food for thought, “How has new media technologies marginalized minorities?” One way I begin to scratch the surface of this question is by looking at the digital divide and how economic inequality (which inherently sparks a conversation about race) between groups has affected access to the internet and other communication technologies. This is something to think about and be aware of as we move from old to new media.