The Blog

#Hashtag Hate: Yes, You're Racist


15,000 - the amount of people living with sickle cell disease across the U.K.

The condition can cause extreme pain, life-threatening infections and other complications such as stroke or loss of vision.

As the Social Media Manager at NHS Blood and Transplant, it's not surprising to find me posting about the disease and continuously encouraging people to donate blood, but as of late, we've been calling for black donors - specifically to help those with sickle cell disease.

The response on Twitter was a 140 character cesspool of hate

And this:

And the ever so geographically challenged:

And this:

As you probably know, your blood group is inherited from your parents and you are grouped as Group O, Group A, Group B or Group AB, usually followed by a '+' or '-'.

Patients with sickle cell disease need blood that is more extensively matched than is required for other patients and this type of blood is known as the Ro subtype.

Blood with a certain combination of genes is the Ro subtype.

The Ro subtype is over 10 times as common in individuals from black backgrounds and is very common in patients with sickle cell disease.

Hence the need for more black donors - definitely not racist.

After taking some time to collect my thoughts - this strong, melanin poppin woman, dusted off and kept tweeting to save lives.

On October 12th, one delightful individual replied: 'If we deport all blacks, this will stop being an issue.'

The users account has since been deleted, but #ThisGirlCan and I responded with a back-handed kick where the sun doesn't shine and over 28,000 people joined in applause.

Many people say, "Don't feed the trools', or 'Don't give in to this hatred', but what happened isn't isolated or new and it's extremely important to stand up for what's right (or wrong).

In the words of NeNe Leakes:

It's quite difficult managing a public -facing communication platform and taking such a bold position, but in all fairness we're expected to exude certain values that mirror those of the organisations core values, but why should this be limited to internal positioning?

We should be expected to display those values everywhere - taking a controversial stand becomes a public commitment to better behavior.

It's no secret that Twitter has a bot problem with a recent study claiming as many as 48 million accounts could be bots but Twitter also has a serious racist problem. As long as Twitter continues to enable these racists on the internet to leverage their platform and attack others, this will not change.

"On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog" - this well-known cartoon was published in The New Yorker in 1993, yet it's meaning is still true 24 years later.

That said, maybe a new version would better read "On the internet, nobody knows you are a racist" given how many are online typing away under the mask of a faceless floating head.

If you're not registered to give blood - Hop to it!

One donation could save three lives and you get biscuits and a brew.

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