The fight for net neutrality has been raging ever since the Federal Communication Commission passed the Open Internet Order in a historic vote in February 2015, giving equal access to Internet content and applications to consumers. And recently, a slew of racist incidents has proven why people of color really need net neutrality in our arsenal to fight back against racism.
Several horrible incidents have been put on blast by Black Twitter and other communities on Twitter. Most recently, Roseanne Barr‘s despicable remark in which she compared former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett to an ape went viral on Tuesday (May 29). The hateful comment by Barr, whose Roseanne reboot was canceled by ABC Entertainment Group President Channing Dungey because of it, sparked conversations about resisting racism. Many Internet users were able to raise their voices and have access to social networks such as Twitter—freedom that could be infringed upon if the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality repeal goes into effect next month.
Social media users also helped spur action in regards to another racist incident, one involving a woman who called the cops on Black people barbecuing at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California last month. Jennifer Schulte, who was identified by multiple news outlets as BBQ Becky, became a meme sensation after calling police—prompting the city’s community members to organize a barbecue in protest. Black people were able to use the Internet as a tool to tell the BBQ Becky story, as opposed to the alternative scenario in which web providers get to decide whose voices are amplified and whose are censored under a net neutrality repeal.
A third racially charged incident also provides a compelling case for why net neutrality matters to people of color (who comprise nearly half of the 69 million who are without wired and wireless home-Internet access, according to a Free Press research report published in December 2016). Attorney Aaron Schlossberg‘s racist temper tantrum against Spanish-speaking people at a New York City cafe earlier this month went viral because of the very social media platforms that could become more expensive and limited if the neutrality repeal is upheld.
The Senate voted to save net neutrality earlier this month, but the House of Representatives and President Donald Trump have to agree with that vote. As the fate of an open Internet hangs in the balance, people of color continue to use social media and other websites to speak up for neutrality—and speak out against racism.