I’m a pretty bold individual, there is no denying that, but even I am surprised to be writing this right now. But I’ve had enough.
When I first toured the University of Missouri, I fell in love. I loved the inclusiveness, the school spirit, the top rated journalism school, I knew it was where I was supposed to be.
I feel like this is the part where I’m supposed to say I was wrong, but I don’t think that’s true. No matter how good or bad the past three and a half years here have been, I have grown, I have grown a lot. Being at Mizzou has forced me to face some things I never thought I’d have to, it’s also helped me take risks and become a more well rounded woman. I will be forever grateful for the opportunities I have gotten by attending Mizzou.
But the one thing I can’t get over, the one thing I just cannot hold my tongue on any longer, the blatant racism.
Six weeks ago my teacher gave us a digital media assignment. We were to pick an online community or social network and immerse ourselves in it for at least a month, getting on it daily. I choose Yik Yak because I had been seeing a lot of Twitter ads for it and so I figured it was worth a shot.
I was almost immediately disappointed. This was the very first Yak I saw upon signing up.
For those of you that don’t know Yik Yak is a fairly new social networking app that allows college aged students to post anonymously on a virtual bulletin board about the happenings on their campus. Users can see other Yaks up to a five mile radius and can up vote, down vote and comment on individual Yaks. The main point of this app is that it’s anonymous. In fact, when joining all you have to do is certify that you’re 17 and you’re in.
Now I thought the petty name calling and rude jokes were reserved for high schoolers, but this app has taught me that college students definitely aren’t off limits, but I digress.
The reason I am saying down with Yik Yak isn’t because of a few rude comments about a girl’s weight (though that’s no ones business, but her own…and maybe her doctor if she so chooses), it’s because for the first time, I was actually hurt by what was posted on their site and I realized all the app does is fuel the fire. It allows cowards, bullies, sexists and racists to post their thoughts they’d normally keep to themselves for the entire world (or just the area that they’re in) to see. I don’t believe it’s a form of freedom of speech because these people are anonymous. They receive no punishment for their hurtful words. If someone was to (God forbid) hurt themselves because of something said to them on this app, I’m not sure how the creators of the app would trace it back to the perpetrator and that’s not okay.
Say what you want, speak until you’re blue in the face, wherever you want, you have the right to do that, but not anonymously. As adults, we need to hold ourselves responsible for what we say, tweet and even blog. This app doesn’t allow that, which is probably why there are so many rude posts to begin with.
But honestly, racism on the Mizzou campus goes well beyond Yik Yak. If anything, this app has given closeted racists an opportunity to well, still be closeted racists, but with an audience.
I guess I just don’t understand why my skin color is such a problem for everyone else. Why are people so angry at me and my black peers for protests in Ferguson that we have no control over? Why does the university continue to push an initiative that simply doesn’t work on this campus?
I’m sick of it. I am. I’m just tired. No I don’t need to grow a backbone, don’t even think I’m shedding a tear over the ignorance I read on this app or hear on campus, but I do get angry. I get angry because I’m expected to keep calm, I’m expected to apologize, I’m expected to “just deal with it,” because “that’s just the way it is,” but it doesn’t have to be.
And that’s why we protest, that’s why 104 (and counting) days after Mike Brown was shot and killed by officer Darren Wilson people are still tweeting and holding protests and demanding answers.
I refuse to let some petty social media app insult my race. I refuse to lie down and take it and that’s why I’m writing about it. To make someone, anyone aware of what’s happening on our own campus. So that my peers can see what other peers are saying about an entire race based of off a 30 second clip shown on CNN once or twice a day.
Grow up. Stop posting anonymous hate on social media sites. Stop supporting them altogether. I’m sick of seeing messages like what I posted above and so this is me doing something about it, join me.
P.S. as soon as I’m done with this assignment, Yik Yak is definitely getting deleted off of my phone.