Perception is reality within our ever evolving, technology savvy society. The minute we hear a news story, curious minds flock to their mobile devices or computers to confirm via social media. This confirmation of events is ever so prevalent within the millennial generation where they are native searchers and only know research via online queries. Once a story is circulated on Facebook or Twitter, millions take this as gospel and share with their legions of friends and followers. Online searches and social media have such an impressionable mark on our overall views on society.
Recently Kabir Alli, a graduating senior from Clover Hill High School in Midlothian, VA posted a video clip on Twitter of a Google image search of “three black teenagers” which provided a host of young African-American mugshots. He and his friends then searched “three white teenagers” and found groups of smiling, happy people. This imagery perpetuates online racial stereotypes which persist in our social conscious and feeds racist rhetoric. Ultimately, the images are an extension of what is reported daily on broadcast networks and other media. Our society truly believes that young African-Americans are nothing more than thugs behind bars and Whites are the only race that can live productive, happy lives. Millennials are extremely impressionable and this visual only cements this racist untruth.
To date, this Twitter post has been shared over 65,000 times and Twitter users are using the hashtag #threeblackteenagers to discuss their thoughts on the video. The conversation regarding online racism has become increasingly prevalent recently due to the Brock Turner rape case. Turner, a white former Stanford University student was convicted in a high profile sexual assault case. Instead of using his mugshot, media outlets circulated his high school yearbook picture. The perception of Turner is protected by using his carefree high school portrait vs portraying him as the convicted rapist that he is. Minority youth have to be aware of this double standard and learn to combat racist stereotypes through education as well as strong self-esteem.
Racial online bias is an ongoing issue that has persisted for many years. Google’s explanation is that it is only providing the biases that currently exist in society and how people search online. In a statement, Google responded that its image search results are a reflection of what is on the internet, including the frequency with which certain types of images appear and how they are described. Google feels that they are not in control of their algorithm. This is a billion dollar company and they want the general public to believe that they are not in control of the most imperative aspect of their company. One has to question their logic and push them to correct this dangerous cultural issue. This is where the push for diversity comes into play to address the problem head on.
Kabir Alli should be applauded for bringing this issue to the forefront and demanding change. Technology and access is the bridge that provides society with insight into the ever evolving world we live.
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