I’m still a little taken back every time the conversation about racism comes up. I find it surreal that after all this time it’s still an issue. It’s been 154 years since slavery was officially outlawed in the US, yet slavery and racism are alive in various forms such as domestic servitude, sex trafficking, forced labour, bonded labour, child labour, and forced marriages, and are occurring in throughout India (14%), China (3%), Pakistan (2%), Russia (1%), and others (15%) (This Is What Slavery Looks Like in the 21st Century)

Karl Marx, among others, has had an influential factor in the social and economic civilization we now call home. Marx was a theorist creating benchmarks for business practices that are still in practice today. He writes:

 

The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement, and entombment in mines of the indigenous population of the continent, the beginnings of the conquest and plunder of India, and the conversion of Africa into a preserve for the commercial hunting of black skins are all things that characterize the dawn of the era of capitalist production.What is a Negro slave? A man of the black race. The one explanation is as good as the other.A Negro is a Negro. He only becomes a slave in certain relations. A cotton spinning jenny is a machine for spinning cotton. It only becomes capital in certain relations. Torn away from these conditions, it is as little capital as gold by itself is money, or as sugar is the price of sugar.

This mocking explanation explains the origins of racism and the role of the slave trade in the rise of capitalism that produced racism against Africans; the dominant ideology that equates Africans with being a slave. Eric Williams of Slavery and Capitalism writes: “Slavery was not born of racism: rather, racism was the consequence of slavery,” and while slavery existed as an economic system for thousands of years, racism, as we understand it today, did not exist. Wikipedia’s Justification for Slavery in the United States is said to be a “necessary evil” and a “positive good” – A somewhat jaw-dropping argument to support on such a high traffic site. We all know we shouldn’t take anything Wiki says too serious, but what about the children, and anyone else seeking information about significant aspects of world history – like slavery and racism.

Up until a few years ago, I would have argued that slavery was a quickly declining tragic event of the past, but it is becoming ever more apparent that slavery is nowhere near a thing of the past. I was convinced it was gone because I never saw it, and it wouldn’t be tolerated where I grew up either. It wasn’t until the World Wide Web kicked up, that I realized how sheltered I was. I had traveled but only to other 1st world nations – I was ignorant, as most children are, about the world outside of their own. Since the beginning of the World Wide Web, and even now, racism and hate speech is abundant.

Some of us may need to look a little harder for it than others, but irregardless, it’s happening, and it’s affecting the lives of millions. Millions of children have been lost to sex trafficking; millions are putting up with their rights being broken every single day of their lives; and millions of workers are slave working in the same way Hitler slave worked the Jews.

I’m not sure what exactly it is that links past racism with future racism, or how racism is born in new generations, but I can imagine it only takes a peer or parent conducting a racial hate act to instill the same immoral carelessness in others. One way or another, new websites are popping up, and old ones are growing in membership. White Pride World Wide, for example, is a white supremacist website where members gather and hate collectively. It took me less than 1 minute of browsing to find a video of a man murdered in broad daylight. Another minute and I found several Jew hate postings; apparently their a “big problem.” I dunno, the only problem I see is that people believe Jews are a “problem” let alone a big one.

Unfortunately, this is not the only website of its kind. The Insurgent is an open forum offering, chat, T-shirts, and games, such as African Detroit Cop – A Really Stupid game, Shoot The Fags Before They Rape You!, and Border Patrol – Don’t Let Those Spices Cross Our Border. These games are a far cry from traditionally well-known violent games such as Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty in that they are solely dedicated to racism, where GTA a user can act violently, but it’s not coded as a racist game any more than Call of Duty where troops are sent out to secure enemy lines. Yes, there is killing, graffiti, and much more, but I don’t think GTA or Call of Duty are going to have the same physiological impact that Shoot The Fags Before They Rape You is going to have.

Fortunately, there are movements and lawyers battling their way to a more equitable future. Dr. Lisa Nakamura speaks about internet shaming, and explains how when trolls (online thieves) are caught in the act, by scam baiters, aim to act as vigilantes posing as a potential victim to scammers in order to waste their time and resources, gather information that can be used by authorities, and publicly expose the scammer. Encouraging them along, the baiters entice them to photograph and film shameful acts as restitution.

 

The Huffington Post states that ending racism starts with educating youth, and Thought Co claims that fighting racism is in part at the individual level, in part at the communal level, and in part the national level. The exhaustive list can be found at the link provided. Black Lives Matter is an activists movement campaigning against police violence, and perceived systemic racism, towards black people. All Lives Matter movement sprang up after and has been criticized for dismissing the message that black lives matter. Later on, Blue Lives Matter was created by police supporters further muddying the waters. But, Black Lives Matter suggest these 13 guiding principles for those who chose to become involved.

  1. Diversity
  2. Globalism
  3. Loving Engagement
  4. Empathy
  5. Unapologetically Black
  6. Black Women
  7. Collective Value
  8. Black Villages
  9. Restorative Justice
  10. Queer Affirming
  11. Transgender-Affirming
  12. Black Families
  13. Intergenerational

Black Lives Matter also speaks to broader movements aiming at promoting policy reforms to end police brutality, increasing community oversight of police departments, and creating stricter guidelines for the use of force. It is also strongly advised that each of us look inward, becoming completely racially aware.

Remember – Just because the president of the United States can get away with racism doesn’t mean everyone else is entitled to try.

 

 

 

It was a couple of years ago now when it dawned on me that Google was a company that had their own agenda and algorithms to back it up, and that my search results were limited to their calculations, and not necessarily just my keywords. At that point, I started doing a lot more cross referencing. But are the other engines any different? Does not every search engine have it own agenda?

I wanted to see the difference between not only the results of different search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, but also with these search engines in different browsers such as Chrome, Internet Explore, Safari, and Firefox. Within this framework, I decided to search images for “teenage girls,” because I feel that they may be in a more vulnerable position, which ties into previous blogs – The Male Gaze, Privacy, Cybersexism, and Online Harassment.

The results were sporadic, to say the least, but in summary, Google’s Chrome rendered the most revealing images of teenage girls compared to competitor search engines and browsers. While most engines had an innate protective aspect about them, Google offered porn website links, images of minimally clothed teenage girls, cleavage shots, bikini close-ups, beauty measures, and the rest.

Alongside Safiya Noble, ‘I’m not picking on Google – but the results speak for themselves. Noble’s ‘Just Google it’, explains Google’s domination over the competitive landscape, with 47% market share in ’04, and 83% in ’12. She also notes that The Federal Trade Commission claims Google is not a monopoly, but that the EU is taking a much closer look at their monopolistic practices. This is important because, 64% of internet users in the US believe their internet searches are a fair, and an unbiased source of information, which is why Noble explains “we must be careful of what Google is serving up.”

With the majority of information provided being shifted from government to a select few private corporations, the concern for free expression has increased. Herbert Schiller writes, in his book Information Inequality, among other things about how expensive and difficult it is to get a private message across mass media; how the power of huge private enterprises is extended beyond borders, influencing and directing economic resources decision, political choices, and the production and dissemination of messages and images. The internet has changed this a bit, but most individuals don’t have millions to spend on messages.

“The American economy is now hostage to a relatively small number of giant private companies, with interlocking connections, that set the national agenda. This power is particularly characteristic of the communication and information sector where the national cultural-media agenda is provided by a very small (and declining) number of integrated private combines. The development has deeply eroded free individual expression, a vital element of a democratic society.”

Helen Nissenbaum, and Lucas Introna, from Information Society, Shaping the web: Why the politics of search engines matter – write “leading search engines give prominence to popular, wealthy, and powerful sites – via the technical mechanism of crawling, indexing, and ranking algorithms, as well as through human-mediated trading of prominence for a fee at the expense of others.” We have a disconnected voice, and there’s a gap between information gathered and information rendered. Too much is hidden from view, and more relevant information is pushed aside to make room for irrelevant advertisement campaigning; over time creating a blind, ignorant, and often arrogant society, eventually breaking down the fabric of social norms with reckless unaccountable online behavior.

So, be careful out there, and in the words of Baz Luhrmann – “Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia; dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts, and recycling it for more than it’s worth.”

I remember the days before all this online harassment bs was taking place. I had many of the first generation personal computers, anyone remember the Pentium 286? It was the beginning of some new and exciting. And as I watched as the tech world evolved, it both scared and excited us all, but I don’t think anyone really saw what was coming down the pipes.

It’s allowed for instant information retrieval, instant communication, and the interchange of ideas and resources, a new wave of technology, a new generation of businesses, the avoidance of adverse conditions like hurricanes, storms, and accidents, new jobs, friendships, relationships, and marriages, and a whole banter of other good things.

Unfortunately, however, the internet also has a dark side. Many people refer to the World Wide Web as the Wild Wild West and for good reason. The internet has enabled a new wave of criminal activity, it has brought well-establish companies and industries to their knees if not outright removed them, it has distributed security systems worldwide, and it has born a new wave of hate, harassment, and bullying.

It really is a shame that something as powerful as the internet, that could bring so much love and growth to our civilization, is being used for hate crimes, child pornography, wars and all the rest.

Thank goodness there’s a new bread of lawyers out there, such as Lindsay Goldberg, who are working hard to bring justice to those doing wrong. As Margaret Talbot explains, we need more escapading Goldbergs with their battle axes out there! If we can make it to the Moon and Mars, I believe we can rule out online hate crimes and child pornography. Talbot also explains that a big part of the problem has to do with the justice system; it’s lacking and antiquated, and its tardiness is causing its citizens anguish and tragedy.

But change is happening. Recently, a widow was awarded benefits after her husband’s death was linked to workplace bullying in P.E.I. And as Wired Magazine explains: Curbing online abuse isn’t impossible, but explain how 23% of women aged 18-29 claim being stalked or harassed online receiving 3 times as many negative responses as men.

The underlining issue is that online harassment is not a technology issue; it’s a social issue that is being powered by the technology. Defusing the internet is not going to solve the problem. What’s needed is a shift in social norms. This, however, falls on to parents and the early education system. Perhaps introducing humanitarian concepts into the curriculum at a very early stage would help. Perhaps tougher punishment for offered such as 50 hours of community service for each offense. Or perhaps a new task force needs to be implemented; something equivalent to a global policing system such with a centralized command center and localized jurisdiction units. Either way, unless something is done, and something drastic, nothing is going to change. But change doesn’t happen on its own – it happens when the masses speak. And its time to speak.

Either way, unless something is done, something dramatically drastic, nothing is going to change. And change doesn’t happen on its own – it happens when the masses speak. And it’s time to speak up.

 

Margaret Talbot’s (The attorney fighting revenge porn)

Wired – Curbing Online Abuse isn’t Impossible

CBC’s investigation in P.E.I widows awarded benefits