In an op-ed piece for the New York Times last year, cultural critic Touré argued for the end of the term “post-race” as a sanguine way to view race relations. It’s a word that began with President Obama’s election, which erroneously suggests that racism is a distant memory. Though the days of Jim Crow and legal segregation are long gone, race and racism are still very pertinent in myriad ways, most notably online. Any website that includes a “comments” section runs the risk of eliciting racist commentary from its viewers, with YouTube being the most notorious example. Certainly the coverage of the Trayvon Martin death has triggered a wave of racist remarks online. Social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, have long been breeding grounds for racism. Coupled with digital racism is the growing issue of online passing—a phenomenon in which people of color represent themselves as white using lighter skinned avatars.
The ubiquity of the Internet allows its users to maintain anonymity while being offensive. While the overt racism that Touré highlights still lingers, it’s the stealthy and more malicious online racism that helps to define our supposedly “post-race” moment. This roundtable seeks papers that address the broad issue of race in the digital age. Topics can include, but not limited to, race and racism online, online passing, and critiques of the “post-race” rhetoric, among others. Hopefully this roundtable will continue discussion on a term that has run its course, while beginning dialogue on the nascent topic of race in the digital age.
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