Black Lives Matter activists marshaled the Internet and other digital media tools to produce the most visible, vociferous, concentrated, and persistent demonstration of racial justice activism since the 1960s. The movement’s success lead many to herald hope that the Internet, and its connected tools, possess the mediating power to galvanize the next front in the long civil rights movement. Others remain skeptical. I argue in my presentation that the ethos underpinning this pessimism has less to do with the medium itself, than it does with black people’s historical and persistent relationship with computing.
About the speakers
Charlton McIlwain is an Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, his recent work focuses on the intersections of race, digital media, and racial justice activism. He recently authored “Racial Formation, Inequality & the Political Economy of Web Traffic,” in the journal Information, Communication & Society, and co-authored, with Deen Freelon and Meredith Clark, the recent report, “Beyond the Hashtags: Ferguson, #BlackLivesMatter, and the Online Struggle for Offline Justice.” He is currently working on a new book titled, “Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice, From the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter,” forthcoming from Oxford University Press.