By Christie Robinson, CONTRIBUTOR
A popular young African American Youtuber from San Leandro recalls the time she almost had a breakdown due to the overwhelmingly disturbing comments people would leave under her videos. “ The bullying started in middle school and people bullied me on just about everything especially about my looks, kids can be really cruel you know, says Sade Amari.
Since 2013, Amari has been making Youtube videos and has experienced different levels of cyberbullying, and discrimination that she says has led to depression at one point. Amari’s social media presence has gained over 267,000 subscribers on youtube and due to Amari being famous in the social media world makes her more vulnerable to people cyber attacking her. “I get a lot of comments like “are you sick! You need to eat! And that’s because I am really skinny.” says Amari. Not only has she had to alter her personal lifestyle due to fans, but she has to deal with verbal abuse online and sometimes in person.
“ Why do Black Women have to be sexy all the time while girls from other races can dress regularly and not be sexualized? “ Say, Amari. Preteen and older adolescent Black girls experience high numbers of bullying, over-sexualization, and the promotion considering Black girls and women as masculine in the media. Granted, the majority of women of color which includes Latino, Asian, and many other groups of women that identify as a woman of color still experience bullying due to the background of certain cultures and stereotypes.
The common bullying is usually at school and children have to resolve it through school officials and in some cases some kids have to deal with the torture of being picked on. In 2020, technology has created identities, friendships, and revenue for many women in the world but it also has come with the brutal truth of Cyberbullying and how women of color tend to be the target of internet bullying.
According to the Pew Research center, online harassment is regularly directed towards those with visible accessible characteristics, such as gender, race/ethnic background. The study shows that online harassment stems contribute from historically subjected discrimination which is why Black Women tend to get harassed sexually, emotionally and in some cases, it can become physical. On the other hand, studies including African American girls who are raised in working-class families show 51 different experiences with aggression as a byproduct of their upbringing. African American girls are more likely to experience and commit more masculinized acts of aggression as a condition of their family upbringing and ideas of femininity reinforced in African American households.
Black, Asian, and Latino women are the highest group to receive online cyber aggression, but African American girls have the highest number of women that receive online harassment says Dr. Casey Quirarte. An educator, community advocate & curriculum specialist has the first-hand experience with young and preteen African American girls. In her research, she discovered the differences between African American girls and European girls in how they are raised. African American girls experience relational aggression and African American families tend to raise their female children with more gender-neutral values. The fact that African American women can be considered masculine results in society thinking African American women are not beautiful. The media doesn’t have the best representation of Black Women and the one that comes to mind as a representation for Black Women is Michelle Obama.
Even with Michelle Obama and all the positive things she has done for America and the internet would call her unattractive, masculine, and virtually attack her simply because she is a woman of color and women of color are supposed to not be associated with success. Social platforms make it accessible and vulnerable in which women tend to get bullied and harassed more. The internet doesn’t flag online aggression towards women as a target of reinforcing feminine norms and stereotypes that are attached to women of color.
According to a study by Gender and The Media: Women’s Places, They discovered that on Twitter, over 25% of cyber aggression on twitter was towards Black women while only 3% was towards white women. The famous word “bitch” was referred to like Black women and identifies it as all women of color. Not only do all women of color experience some level of cyber aggression but it affects their personal life as well, especially if you are popular on Instagram and/or Twitter, Youtube, etc. “ Someone made a fake account and tried to ruin my relationship with my boyfriend and my parents, took screenshots of me on vacation, and sent them to my mother. She was furious.” Online bullying can go towards the lengths of strangers investing in someone’s life and sabotaging their image out of greed and jealousy.
Online users illustrate social media users’ lives and characterize the nature of cyberbullying within the online population. In some cases, it can be hard to identify the problem because of the misrepresentation of the definition in society. Forms of bullying, in general, may limit the approach to how people view cyberbullying. Many women, especially women of color, are constantly harassed online and deal with it so much to the point that it is actually normal to them.
Bullying and cyberbullying are completely different towards every race/class of people and society needs to understand that they are being virtually attacked even if someone hacks your profile it’s still considered a violation. In comparison, it’s like a young child being a victim of sexual assault and that child doesn’t realize it until he/she older. There are different elements to bullying and sometimes it takes going through the motions to diagnose the problem. Women of color have been victims of cyber aggression or people participating in degrading individuals online.