A couple of days ago, a few places around the web have been mentioning the use of mobile digital technology by some white college students from Louisiana to “parody” (their word) the Jena 6. Here’s how LAist described it:
In the wake of the Jena 6 marches that have been happening all over the country, this group of students decided to dress in blackface and reenact the Jena 6 assault, and post the photos and video clip on a Facebook album entitles “The Jena 6 on the River.” The video, which can be seen on The Smoking Gun website, shows the students giggling as they cover themselves in mud (blackface and all), and “attack” one of the students…
This is part of what I’ve written about in my work on “cyber racism,” or put another way, white supremacy in the digital era. The fact is, new digital technologies (e.g., camera phones) along with social networking sites (e.g., Facebook) not only open up new possibilities for “participatory democracy” (as I believe they do), and, they also make possible new forms of white supremacy that are a blend of the old and the new.
The fact is, I also think we need new ways to think about civil rights in the digital era. Is the kind of “speech” these students are engaging in “protected” ? Most of the first amendment absolutists would argue that it is. I tend to disagree. I’d be interested in thoughts from anyone here, reading along.