Black Students Use Digital Activism, Social Media to Elevate Underrepresented Voices On College Campuses

Social media and social activism appear to be undeniably interwoven among Black users. And it’s increasingly become a powerful medium to elevate underrepresented voices on college campuses, too.

A recent Pew Research survey examining attitudes toward digital activism reported that more than half (54 percent) of Black users “believe social media is an important tool for them to use in expressing their opinion about social and political issues.” Meanwhile, just 39 percent of whites said the same thing.

Part of me is not surprised at the survey’s finding. Many of the heavyweights behind some of the most well-known activist hashtags are Black. Take Tarana Burke, who first launched the #MeToo movement, or April Reign, creator of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag. This type of Black digital activism mimics the tenacious efforts of, for example, Ida B. Wells, to speak truth to the real experiences of Black people in a society that is eager to suppress conversations about institutional racism that exists today.

Our nation’s demographics are rapidly changing and that is reflected in student populations at universities and colleges. Higher education instructors have to adjust to this and develop a sense of cultural competence. One way to accomplish this is to recognize the ways students of color want and need to articulate their racialized experiences.

This is why people working in higher education must try to understand why Black youth see social media as viable tools to share their thoughts on social issues. So what are the implications of digital activism for Black students, and why should college instructors—especially non-Black instructors—care?

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SOURCE: Jasmine Roberts 

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