Shaun King, a Black Lives Matter leader whose race came into question over the summer, is speaking out against “pervasive” racism on Twitter that is so common “it’s basically impossible to use the service as a person of color.”
King, a senior justice writer for the New York Daily News, published a thought-provoking op-ed for the paper on Wednesday, and called for an end to the epidemic of hate speech on the social media platform.
“Racists now post messages on every single hashtag of interest to black folk. Almost always without their real names or faces, racists will use racial slurs in messages to or about people thousands of times per day on Twitter,” he wrote. “It’s so prevalent, so pervasive, that it’s basically impossible to use the service as a person of color and not have to face it down every single day.”
Although King loves Twitter and enjoyed the constructive discussions he participated in during the platform’s early days, he said it’s gotten to the point that he’s “close to praying” before using Twitter.
The activist bemoaned the average day on Twitter, where “hundreds of people send hateful messages to me or about me in one way or another.”
He wrote that he’s blocked over 20,000 Twitter users this year alone and he hardly ever checks his replies because “it’s just too ugly.”
This week, he’s heard from Twitter users who’ve been on the receiving end of racism as part of the social media back and forth over the brewing racial controversy at University of Missouri.
“One young leader canceled her Twitter account altogether because the racist hate and insults were simply not worth it for her,” King wrote. “My wife and many of my family members stopped using the service for the very same reason.”
He concluded that he’s a proponent of free speech but it reaches its limit when social users can’t use a platform they love without being “accosted by racists.”
For me, Twitter is the only service in my life where a racist encounter is guaranteed. If every time I went to the local grocery store I was 100% sure that I would meet an overt racist head on, I’d never visit that grocery store again and would hope that the store would do something to make sure it never happened again.