The Good and The Ugly: Social Media Users and the Fear of a Black President
DeErricka Green | Managing Editor
The 2012 Election became the highest-trending topic on Twitter Tuesday night, with more than 20 million tweets. In some states, “n*gger” was close behind it.
Throughout Election Day social media played a vital role. Voters tweeted comments about long lines, Instagrammed their ballots and, in one crazy case, uploaded a video of a voting machine in Pennsylvania gone haywire. Social media users all over the world stayed glued to CNN and other news networks well into the night as the results of a close race unfolded, taking breaks only to communicate their feelings of aspiration and anxiety.
“Why did I turn on CNN? My heart is in my throat,” tweeted Dani Beysolow, a junior studying psychology.
Tensions remained high for supporters of the president as Mitt Romney took an early lead in the Electoral College count. But as the night went on, the President caught up and Americans continued to hold their breath. As soon as it was announced that President Obama had secured Ohio’s votes, supporters knew it was all over.
“I guess Nate Silver isn’t so crazy, huh?” wrote former NFL star Warren Sapp.
First-time voters, especially, had cause for celebration. “Today my voice was heard!” wrote ECU freshman Tyana Spellman. “I get to tell my grandchildren and great-grandchildren that I was a part of history. I was there when the first black president was elected, and I helped put him back in office!”
Though the majority of citizens agree with that sentiment, there are always going to be haters in the mix. You know what they say: For every person singing your praises, there are 100 haters trying to bring you down.
Proponents of Gov. Romney as well as just some general rabble-rousers took to the Internet to express their displeasure. Some of the most negative comments made heavy use of racial slurs and hate speech.
There are some of you who may have been hopeful that the reelection of President Obama would be an indication that racism no longer exists in this country. Unfortunately, as shown in Tuesday night’s display of negative comments, in which social media users referred to the President as “monkey,” “n*gger” and everything in between, as well as comments expressing fear of the future destruction of the United States, it’s clear racism is still alive and well. As long as our First Amendment right allows us to express whatever it is we desire, racism and hate speech exist. As long as the need to be rebellious exists, these things exist. As long as people think “n*ggerf*g” is amusing to tag on a college campus, racism and hate speech exist.
As citizens, we have to realize this is not an aspect of our society that can be changed overnight- or even over four years.
The natural instinct for some of us is to strike back against these comments, often in anger. People’s fear of a black president, however, is not worth words. Their views may never change. The unforgettable moment that occurred on Nov. 7 will also never change, despite their ignorance on social media.
Haters are entitled to their opinion, however offensive. That’s the nature of our society. Nevertheless our President is back, and for another four years, our President is black.