Race, Technology, and Society

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In 2008, Barack Obama was elected as the forty-fourth president of the United States of America. Although every presidential election is of great importance to the country and its people, this one was especially so; Barack Obama was/is the first black president in the nation’s history. As a result, many viewed the election as the dawn of a new age, what some may refer to as a “post-racial” America. In Toure’s “Forty Million Ways to be Black,” he claims that the term “post-racial” “posits that race does not exist or that we’re somehow beyond race and suggests colorblindness” (12). With knowledge of Toure’s definition of the concept, was the 2008 election the dawn of a new age and if so, what are the repercussions of it?

Six years after the election, in the midst of president Obama’s second term, determining the state of “post-racial” America and its effects is not easy. It seems as though the 2008 presidential election did shed light on race, popularizing the concept of “post-racial,” but it wasn’t by any means the dawn of a new age. If anything, “post racial” is an outlook selected by few, whose effects are both good and bad; there is a spectrum of stance on the matter. At one end lie those few who embrace and support the idea of a “post-racial” America, those who are colorblind. They believe that by doing so, they are eliminating the negative aspect of identifying race. In the middle lie those who denounce the concept because race is self-identification. Members of a race identify to that race and by eliminating it, no longer can they identify. It is important to note, however, that those who take this stance feel as though their race does not prohibit individuality. On the other end lie those who still identify race, but unlike those in the middle, do so because they are ignorant and hateful. They often create and promote stereotypes and with these stereotypes, act rather inhumanely.

Already complicated by nature, the concept of a “post-racial” America is further complicated by western technology. Technology offers a plethora of information to one at the touch of a button, but more importantly, it allows one to express him or herself at the touch of a button. Digital networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. allow one to do so. By doing so, one can reflect on their own ideas and the ideas of others, a generally positive experience. For example, one who supports the concept of a “post-racial” America can express it, reflect on it, reflect on the opinion of one who is against it because eliminates identity, and perhaps gain something from it. Unfortunately, this can be abused when as stated in Carrie James’ “Young People, Ethics, and the New Digital Media: A Synthesis from the Goodplay Project,” “the self-reflection that digital spaces afford can be undermined when presenting to an audience becomes more valued and urgent than turning inward to engage in self-examination” (31). Because some people care more about attention, they often post rude, offensive, crass content on the internet, like racial stereotypes and opinions. This means of attention can be extremely harmful when the impressionable are exposed to it.

Although technology complicates the already complicated concepts of “post-racial” and race, it does allow ideas to be negotiated in a positive way. Despite such negotiation though, it is unfair to say that the United States is in an age of “post-racialness.” The many different stances that people have on the subject of race haven’t really evolved, they are just easier to talk about and more accessible. It is also hard for one to claim that Americans are “post-racial” when the most basic differences between human beings, sex and gender, are still such a problem in the twenty-first century. Once progress is made in these areas of difference, perhaps progress will be made in race.

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2 comments

  1. I really like the composure of your blog. It’s set up very well and it has some great ideas and sources that support everything you’ve said. I agree that race is also self-identification. In order for one to understand, explore and gain more knowledge into their race, people use digital networks. Though digital networks are used for negotiation of thoughts and ideas, they wouldn’t be as complicated if individuals focused on the real twenty-first century problems.

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