Colorful Politics (Research Update #3)

The world of social media politics is one to truly behold. Someone once told me that only those who don’t know how to debate do their debating on social media. I have two varying opinions on this: for one, they have something of a point – social media is notorious for being a space for mostly close-minded discussion regarding politics and culture, complete with trolling and other inappropriate behavior; on the flip side, social media is an outlet for those who traditionally have been excluded from formal debate to express their opinions, often unapologetically.

As my research winds down and I make the last of my updates before the Symposium, I often reflect on how Twitter has helped me answer my research questions. Going into this project, I wanted there to be a special focus on politics for Black and Queer individuals because they are two groups that have historically been marginalized in a variety of ways. There is a lot of nuance in the field of social media political activism that goes unacknowledged; what may be seen as an aggressive assertion may be better understood as a confident expression of controversial opinion when seen with the context of oppression. One of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most well-known quotes is that “[a] riot is the language of the unheard.” While people certainly aren’t rioting on Twitter (in the typical sense of the word), they are making their voices heard in ways that are construed as confrontational. Especially in my dissection of George M. Johnson, provocative statements, to my understanding, aren’t meant to divide and incite, rather to speak a sort of inconvenient truth about the current state of our nation, rooted in an unjust past for many.


Those who live at the intersection between racism and Queerphobia know what silence is, and social media is the platform from which they speak the voices they’ve always had but other refused to listen to. That’s what I want my research to be: an outlet for the overlooked to be seen, little by little, bringing them into a more-diverse majority of academic social study.