YouTube, Racism, And Thinking Out Loud

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

So I was checking into YouTube and caught some Asian faces on the Featured Videos section - which is always great to see - and I clicked on one which turned out to be a video by a user called fafinettex3 who gives out beauty and makeup tips (her most recent video has gotten about 100,000+ views).

From the comments people seem to like her, the tips are useful, and technically all should be good for this Asian American making an impact in her own way.

But the keyword is should.

Just Thinking Out Loud For A Moment

Originally I was going to pop in a screen shot of the YouTube user fafinettex3, but when I ended up viewing the post, I just couldn't get myself to do it. I couldn't bear to see this nice Asian American face with the phrase SMDYFDAC below it once I saw it out of the environment it was originally in - an environment where I almost expect to see this type of behavior because of the anonymity that it can bring with it.

And it started me thinking.

At first while I knew the comment got to me in the "Here's another racist person who doesn't have a clue" type of way, it didn't really get to me like it did when I put it together here without anything except the picture and the comments, and I have to ask myself the question of how desensitized do I sometimes get when witnessing racism in an online environment where in some ways we've been taught to think that it's not as real - that in some ways racist epithets online don't matter as much because they can be deleted and forgotten. Because sometimes we don't always think of them as "real words" coming from a "real person", but someone who just has a user account and a screen name.

Someone who in a way, we don't always think exists.

And while the fact is they do exist, that they are real, and that the words they use are directed to real individuals, I question if the same weight is given to racism online as it is offline or if instead we just brush it aside easier - and if I look at some of the things I post about in regard to race and racism, more often than not, I'm talking about things that happen in "real life" - movies, television, politics, songs, etc. - not really a lot of racism as it happens in the online world. There is some, but overall not as much - and I wonder if I just don't see it or I'm just not noticing it because of conditioning, and what does that say if it's not being recognized as much as offline racism.