The 7 Twitter Moments You May Have Missed But Need To Know About From 2014

I have quite a love-hate relationship with the Internet, and especially social media. But for every nasty anonymous troll, there are incredible people using social media to start important conversations and encourage action. Here are seven hashtags from 2014 that gave me hope for a better tomorrow.

1. #yesallwomen

"The May 2014 shooting in Santa Barbara, California, left seven dead and 13 injured. Shortly after, the killer's video diaries leading up to the shooting were found, where he blamed women for never dating him despite the fact that he's a "nice guy." When people argued, "Not all men are like that!" Twitter user @gildedspine responded by creating the #YesAllWomen hashtag to start a bigger conversation about violence against women. The hashtag quickly went viral, with women around the world chiming in and sharing their personal stories."
3 Simple Posters Expose 3 Simple Truths All Women Understand. That's ... Not A Good Thing.













2. #youoksis

Started by Feminista Jones (@feministajones), #YouOKSis wasn't just about street harassment — it was a call to action.

TVOne did a segment on Feminista Jones and the hashtag created to help end street harassment. Check it out:

3. #whyistayed

In September 2014, "after surveillance video was released of footballer Ray Rice punching his then-fiancée (now wife) in an elevator, the inevitable (and really awful) victim-blaming began. Most echoed, "Why would she marry him after that?" or "Why didn't she just leave?" proving how little the average person understands about the cycle of abuse. The #WhyIStayed hashtag was started by writer Beverly Gooden (@evtgooden) to expose what abuse victims go through and why it's so important to focus on helping rather than blaming."
14 Tweets Answer 'Why I Stayed.' 11 Broke My Heart, But The Last 3 Gave Me Hope.





4. #alivewhileblack

In the wake of protests surrounding the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, Twitter erupted in a conversation about police brutality and racial profiling. Created by Jamilah Lemieux, #AliveWhileBlack shed light on how too often police criminalize blackness.

5. #iftheygunnedmedown

"In response to the killing of an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Missouri, and the biased media coverage of the victim that followed, young people of color on social media began wondering how they might be portrayed if the same happened to them. Started by @CJ_musick_lawya, the pictures shared with #IfTheyGunnedMeDown are powerful reminders of how stories get told in America."
These Side-By-Side Photos Show Exactly What Media Bias Looks Like With One Stunning Question

6. #blacklivesmatter

Started by Alicia Garza (@aliciagarza), Patrisse Cullors (@osope) and Opal Tometi in response to the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, #BlackLivesMatter became a rallying cry and call to action in 2014 at protests against police brutality across the nation.

7. #notjusthello

"After the hidden-camera street harassment video '10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman' went viral, many asked, 'Since when does "hello" qualify as street harassment?' Author and activist Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) created the hashtag #NotJustHello to explain how too often "hello" is just the opening line to lewd comments, threats, and even physical violence."
She Explains Why So Many Women Don't Say 'Hello.' The Reason Is Absolutely Chilling.

More

Whenever someone's words or behavior are called out as racist, a few predictable responses always follow. One is to see the word "racist" as a vicious personal attack. Two is to vehemently deny that whatever was said or done was racist. And three is to pull out the dictionary definition of racism to prove that the words or behavior weren't racist.

Honestly, as soon as someone refers to the dictionary when discussing racism, it's clear that person has never delved deeply into trying to understand racism. It's a big old red flag, every time.

I'm not an expert on race relations, but I've spent many years learning from people who are. And I've learned that the reality of racism is nuanced and complex, and resorting to a short dictionary definition completely ignores that fact. The dictionary can't include all of the ways racism manifests in individuals and society, and the limitations of dictionary definitions make it a poor tool for discussing the topic.

Since "racism" is such a loaded term for many people, let's look at such limitations through a different complex word. Let's take "anxiety." According to Merriam-Webster, "anxiety" is defined as "apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness, usually over an impending or anticipated ill."

Now imagine thinking that you understand everything that encompasses anxiety from reading that dictionary definition. Imagine thinking you could recognize the signs of anxiety in someone based on that definition alone. Ridiculous, right? The dictionary doesn't explain that some people's anxiety manifests as anger, even though it does. It doesn't say that anxiety sometimes manifests as withdrawal or aloofness. It doesn't say that you often won't see obvious signs of fear or nervousness in someone experiencing anxiety.

The dictionary doesn't offer anything close to the reality of what anxiety is or looks like. It would be silly to say that someone isn't experiencing anxiety because they're not clearly showing signs of nervousness like the dictionary definition implies. Just as the dictionary definition of anxiety is not comprehensive, neither is the dictionary definition of racism. Yet people keep using it to "prove" that something or someone isn't racist.

Fox News analyst Brit Hume just pulled that trick on Twitter to try to back up his claim that Donald Trump's "go back to" statements to four Congresswomen of color weren't technically racist.


The first Merriam-Webster entry for "racism" reads "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race."

Merriam-Webster

First of all, I'm not sure how this definition actually makes Trump's statements not racist. A belief is not always conscious, so even assuming that his racism is unconscious, a white man telling four women of color to "go back to" their countries of origin—despite three of them being born in the U.S. and the fourth being a naturalized citizen of the U.S.—is pretty objectively racist. No one knows exactly what is going on in the President's head, but such statements only being made to women of color would certainly be consistent with the behavior of someone with a belief in white people's inherent superiority.

But that simple definition isn't truly definitive, either. Shortly after Hume's tweet, Merriam-Webster pointed out a usage note for the word "racism," which clarifies that dictionaries do not provide the be-all-end-all definition of words.

Anti-racism advocates have tried time and time again to explain that racism is not as straightforward as someone saying, "I think I'm superior to people who don't share my skin color." Racism is almost never that blatant, and yet oodles of Americans refuse to call anything less than that kind of bold statement "racism." We have a long history showing exactly how white supremacy—the origin of racism in the U.S.—exerts itself in both strong and subtle ways, and thousands of hours and pages of education from experts describing how racism works on an individual and societal level. But people still insist on the simplistic narrative of "Racism=hating people of a different race."

I've seen many people, including Brit Hume, argue that the word racism has lost all meaning. Frankly, that's a copout. Racism—as both a conscious or unconscious belief of racial superiority and as a system of racial prejudice blended with power dynamics—has a broader meaning than one person hating another person for the color of their skin. But that doesn't make it meaningless.

I've also seen people complain that "everything is racist these days," but no, it's really not. We simply understand more about racism now, thanks to the field of race studies and to people of color offering their time and energy to explain it, so it's easier to identify in its various forms. In my experience, when someone's understanding of racism reaches a certain stage, they start recognizing it in places where ignorance or unconscious bias may have caused them to miss it in the past. That's not imagining racism where it doesn't exist or "calling everything racist these days"; that's simply seeing reality more clearly.

When you really dive deep into the historical, psychological, and sociological reality of racism in America, it becomes painfully obvious that racism is far more prevalent and enmeshed in our society than most people think. Until defensive, mostly-white folks stop automatically denying racism every time the word is used and stop throwing around dictionaries to avoid having to do that deep dive work, we're not going to make real headway on this issue.

Let's stop pretending that the definition and supposed overuse of the word "racism" is the problem, when the problem is racism, period.

Democracy
Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

If you're a woman and you want to be a CEO, you should probably think about changing your name to "Jeffrey" or "Michael." Or possibly even "Michael Jeffreys" or "Jeffrey Michaels."

According to Fortune, last year, more men named Jeffrey and Michael became CEOs of America's top companies than women. A whopping total of one woman became a CEO, while two men named Jeffrey took the title, and two men named Michael moved into the C-suite as well.

The "New CEO Report" for 2018, which looks at new CEOS for the 250 largest S&P 500 companies, found that 23 people were appointed to the position of CEO. Only one of those 23 people was a woman. Michelle Gass, the new CEO of Kohl's, was the lone female on the list.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

California has a housing crisis. Rent is so astronomical, one San Francisco company is offering bunk bedsfor $1,200 a month; Google even pledged$1 billion to help tackle the issue in the Bay Area. But the person who might fix it for good? Kanye West.

The music mogul first announced his plan to build low-income housing on Twitter late last year.

"We're starting a Yeezy architecture arm called Yeezy home. We're looking for architects and industrial designers who want to make the world better," West tweeted.

Keep Reading Show less
Cities

At Trump's 'Social Media Summit' on Thursday, he bizarrely claimed Arnold Schwarzenegger had 'died' and he had witnessed said death. Wait, what?!


He didn't mean it literally - thank God. You can't be too sure! After all, he seemed to think that Frederick Douglass was still alive in February. More recently, he described a world in which the 1770s included airports. His laissez-faire approach to chronology is confusing, to say the least.

Keep Reading Show less
Democracy