Week 6: Hashtag Activism

Bonilla and Rosa’s 2015 article on #Ferguson explores the magnitude of ways which social media hashtags have been used in America, particularly in retaliation towards un-just shootings of people of colour. Such explorations are profound and informative of the social response to such events, yet the article does little to critique or questions such actions, nor the impact of the response. It is important to note that hashtag activism is not of single use towards injustice against people of colour and Black people, but that these are only one example of a community which use such activism against injustice. While Bonilla and Rosa (2015) do make good points on the evidence found on how American legal action impacts people of colour, Black teenage boys in particular, they fail to explore how such hashtag activism works to trouble these behaviours. While an element of this is answered in the final paragraph of Bonilla and Rosa’s work by stating “…particularly social media, had posed ‘the most significant challenge’ to his investigation” suggesting that this activism does work to express their emotions to the world, in such troubling the mainstream portrayal of the event. However, such troubling does seem to do little in support of the action which the hashtag impresses on social media readers: there seems to be no understanding or expression of understanding towards the community who has been hurt. In fact, by the quote above, it seems to suggest that, in a legal sense, the activism actually did very little to help their case. In the sense of society there is no mention within this article of how this activism supported, or opposed, the call to action regarding shootings of unarmed Black and people of colour in America.



Bonilla, Y. and Rosa, J. (2015) #Ferguson: Digital protest, hashtag ethnography, and the racial politics of social media in the United States. American Ethnologist. Volume 42, Issue 1. https://doi-org.ezproxy.brighton.ac.uk/10.1111/amet.12112

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