It's really difficult not to spend an entire day screaming at your phone or computer screen after seeing your sixth racist comment of the day. I've decided it's not healthy or productive to get so charged every time you see racial slurs make an appearance on your timeline, but I refuse to stand by and say nothing. Day after day, I'm overwhelmed by the sheer amounts of racism I witness and experience. People seem to think social media platforms have become the Las Vagas of life. I'm unapologetic in my approach towards racism on social media and I will expose it for what it is without hesitation. Don't be fooled into believing I'm talking about any particular platforms, although some are notably worse than others. I've been racially abused and threatened on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube; and I couldn't name another popular platform where I haven't seen some absolutely shocking comments. I won't be repeating any of the comments that have been thrown at me because I don't think they deserve the air time.
It's hard to believe there are so many people out there filled with hate. It makes me nervous because these are people who are seemingly good people at work and when they go about their day-to-day business but what decisions are they making to inflict their intrenched bigotry on others offline? It's hard for me to mention the huge amounts of racism I see without thinking about the sexism, xenophobia, islamophobia and homophobia that's also rife. What is most notable about all of these forms of discrimination? It's notably intensifies when the individual is of a dark complexion.
My hardest experience on Twitter till this day (and I've been involved in some intense debates), was a day I decided to challenge Milo Yiannopolous' misguided comments. Milo is well-known for spouting things you'd imagine would make him unemployable and lonely but somehow there are people out there supporting him. For what reason, I don't know. Weirdly, it isn't Milo who made me most upset. It was the tirade of abuse I got from his 'followers' that enraged me. For days I was on the receiving end of racial slurs from people I describe as the 'Freedom of Speech Council'. People who say the most dire things and then hide behind their right to freedom of speech because being abusive and hateful is entirely ok and should never be challenged. I actually searched for some of the replies, one guy protested Milo's innocence simply because of his 'love of black guys'. Which must be the new and improved version of 'but he has black friends'. I'm not here to be fetishised, especially by someone who wants to deny my struggles exist. It got even more surreal when Milo decided to direct message me on Twitter and ask me on a date because I was 'sexy af' (I still have the receipts). No Milo, I don't want to date a bigot just in case you're still wondering.
All of this makes me feel social media platforms are failing their users. 'You can block these people' you say - correct and don't worry I haven't forgotten where that button is, but let's not pretend acting like an ostrich in these situations actually moves things forward. 'You can report these people' again you're correct, you can report people but things have to get really bad before people are actually removed from any of the leading platforms. Some serial offenders are even breaking laws and somehow still have access to their accounts so let's face it we can't report our way out of this problem. There's a problem with both of these options, they both require the damage to be done already and let's face it you can make a new social identity in minutes.
What we really need is for social giants like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to take a real stake in fostering a culture change. That's sounds very fluffy but I'm not talking about something your Head of Corporate Responsibility leads on and has zero buy-in from the wider workforce. I'm certainly not talking about an 'All Lives Matter' campaign or a 'we're all humans' campaign. I'm talking about something that's developed by and for black people because I'm bored of calling people out and feeling alone. It's emotionally distressing and it's time we had some progressive backing.