Down with Yik Yak

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.

first yak

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.


5 thoughts on “Down with Yik Yak

  1. Brittany, this is a beautifully written article, and I am with you on the horribly, hateful things I’ve seen people post on social media in the last several months. It appalls and shames me. But (and there’s always a but) it is not just white people who have exposed their racial prejudices recently. Your statements “why are people so angry at me and my black peers for the events in Ferguson that we have no control over…I’m expected to keep calm, I’m expected to apologize, I’m expected to just deal with it” are statements that can cut both ways. No, I’m not black and no, I don’t live in poverty, but what I have, I have worked all my life for and come from parents with modest means. I didn’t inherit anything but good work ethics and a love for God and country. You are obviously an intelligent woman attending my nephew’s alma mater (M-I-Z-Z-O-U!). I wish you the best and hope that you and your peers are praying for peace as I and mine are. (P.S.–I’ve never heard of Yik Yak).

  2. The problem I have with your artical is you see this from one angle only. There is a video on youtube that starts with hey white people and goes on to list every greivance that blacks have with whites it was very offensive. The first yak you list is talking about being proud to be white = racist and I was surprised you put that in there. Since you’re black how can you possibly find offense in that most whites do feel that way. The majority of whites have adopted an attitude of just let it go and walk on. But then you see a loadmouth black woman at a rams football game sreaming at people and using profanity and the one white guy that had the temerity to call her on the fact that she was using this foul language in front of kids she spit in the guys face. Then theres the die ins at the local malls interupting people that had nothing to do with what their protesting about but simply going about their lives and being harrased for it. Now my point is this I truly believe whites are at the point where they are fed up with the way blacks are acting some of the things I see written on yik yak are offensive and for every one of them I can post something a black person has said to disparage whites but apparently thats ok and not considered racist. The thing that troubles me the most is when blacks hold up these signs that say black lives matter. I have never seen a single protest in Chicago or Detroit or DC. Where literally thousands of young blacks die without so much as a peep. But a white cop kills a black man thats robbing stores using drugs assaulting store owners and police while resisting and dies as a result and literally all hell breaks loose and I think this is a back lash white people are getting fed up with this and instead of reamaining silent are now becoming more vocal and I believe it will get louder and louder until the black community accepts the fact that the main reason they find themselves in whatever situation they find themself is staring at them in the mirror. Are there racists in the white community yes and the same is true in the black community as well. Im fully aware that the mority of blacks that read this will lable me a racist and honestly I dont care. This is what I think is happening and when you try to squelch a persons voice for fear of being labeled then they hold it in and it festers and turns to anger. People on both sides of this are going to need to do some soul searching before this will heal. I believe the things that have transpired of the last few months have done serious harm to race relations and Im not sure the the black community realizes alot of the things they have done is doing far more harm that good. This whole thing is a two way street and the feeling in the white community is the black community only see’s it as a one way street. Just let me end this by saying I dont intend any of this to be insulting or rude. I say these thing because I think people need to hear both sides of any argument.

    • I appreciate you giving the other side of the story. I understand what you’re saying, I really do, but I think you re missing the point. These yaks that I posted are extremely racist. Not only that, but these people are anonymously criticizing that which they do not even understand. You have no idea how hurtful it is to read these comments made by people who don’t even have the audacity to do it on a social network that isn’t anonymous. How crazy is that.

      Furthermore, if you are familiar with Yik Yak, you’d know it is based on your location, so when reading these I was very confused as to how the authors of these posts could know what is happening in Ferguson, when they themselves are not even there. Sure you’ve got what you see on the news, but we all know the media can distort things from time to time.

      I’m not trying to take away from your experiences, because that is your reality, but understand that I have a very different one from you. As a black woman, I can’t even get upset without being called ghetto, when a lot of the times, my anger is valid.

      You talk about me only seeing things from one angle, but what do you expect? I can only speak to my experience as a black woman, nothing else. I did not shame whites, I shamed the app for allowing such hateful speech. Everyone is entitled to have their opinion and say of they feel, but I feel that it’s best when a conversation can be held around it rather than just spewing anonymous hateful speech.

      Get it?

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