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Internetting while black

My friend and I have a joke (and I’m sure tons of other people) that the worst thing to happen to black people was integration. However, I’ve been distancing myself from that joke and not because I live in multi-culti New York and not because I love the good part of gentrification (the little intimate grocery stores, stop signs, rapid police response, quiet nights) but because there is a new number one worst thing: the Internet!

Of course, there’s no disputing the role the Internet plays in our culture. Over a very small period of time, the World Wide Web has evolved from this place used to send mail and watch porn to a place where once can make phone calls, complete college applications, find a job, read the news, and unfortunately show your ass, both literally and figuratively. And everyone can do these things. I won’t go as far as to say equally, but according to Thomas L. Friedman, author of The World is Flat, the playing field has been greatly leveled. Let’s not confuse this universal access to technology with equality. I’m cautious about referring to it as some great equalizer, even when most of us (sorry China) can Google anything. It is probably fair to say, whether you are blogging about politics or uploading a filmed fight, there is risk. And that risk may be greater given the color of your skin.

Nowadays, a job interview is not simply about going in with the best resume and the best references, but about having the most clean public image. “Clean” of course, being a relative term. Whatever, the case, it is probably not the smartest move in an economy with a 10% unemployment rate, and still in an era of “Why Jamal can’t get a job” to be online railing against the white man. Beyond the job market, there are the fat girls singing on tables, the mothers teaching babies how to roll blunts, the homemade sex tapes, and every other type of trifling exposure of black people. Every time I log onto Bossip (love this site) or see some other random colored story, I think of how much the internet is responsible for making linked fate a modern day curse.