Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Is being a Black woman on the internet worth it?

    by Nicole Lovett


    Slowly — then all at once — white supremacists flooded my Instagram account in one week. I got DM’s (direct message) of white men calling me the N-word, sending me images of mutilated bodies and comments tearing apart my appearance and criticizing my sexuality.

    Frightened and anxious, I looked at my thousands of loyal followers. I looked at the strong connections of friends I’d made across the world. Instagram had become a crucial system to me, but now it was wearing on my spirit. Should I really give up this platform because a select few white people decided to terrorize a 20-year-old Black woman on the internet?

    I had joined Instagram only a year ago, but my interactions on the internet started young. I didn’t have many close friends growing up in real life, but I had many online — a concept that baffles my parents to this day. “Be careful with that stuff,” my mom often warned. “You don’t know those people.”

    I assumed she was wrong. From Arizona to as far away as Maryland and New York, I corresponded with other girls my age, developing a mutual respect and admiration for each other. Tumblr taught me that it was okay to be queer, Twitter taught me it was okay to be Black, and the friends I made across the board wholly accepted me in a way that my friends at school never did.

    I realize now it was a good thing I didn’t have a large following as a young person. I knew about racism then, but had sort of convinced myself it would never touch me in the Bay Area bubble. But the internet isn’t confined by location — this is what I loved about it, but it’s also how I was able to be targeted.

    Now I see that in some ways, my mom was right about social media: in being vulnerable to the world, I opened myself up to people I truly could not know — people who could hurt me. This is not the internet I had grown up with — surrounded by loving friends and confidence-boosting posts.

    My white friends who had large platforms were not attacked for their identity, and were hardly criticized. It hadn’t occurred to me that I would be shot down just for existing like they existed.

    Is being a Black woman on the internet worth it? Is it worth the criticism, the racism, and the harshness of strangers? Maybe not. But if that’s true, then being a Black woman in America isn’t worth it either.


    Nicole Lovett is a staff writer at the Laney Tower.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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