By Liz Brazile
The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to repeal net neutrality regulations yesterday, as you’ve likely heard already. In other words, Internet service providers will no longer be required by law to deliver fair and impartial web access and prices to consumers. Accessing certain websites may require Internet users to pay for expensive bundles, similar to those of cable television. Furthermore, ISPs may opt to manipulate the speed of sites for smaller companies that compete with their own business interests.
In the wake of this serious news, I’ve witnessed two general responses. The first being devastation at the potential loss of the Internet as we’ve come to know it. The other is apathy and a facetious nostalgia for the world before online socializing. While everyone will be affected by the loss of net neutrality if Congress doesn’t step up and repeal the vote, black women and femmes will suffer greatly.
Black women have been the driving force behind social justice movements for many decades—centuries even. But the reach of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter has afforded us a much larger platform than we’ve ever had access to in the mainstream media. As a grossly underrepresented demographic, many of us rely on social media to bring awareness to our experiences, causes, talents, and businesses.
As a collective, black women can’t rely on traditional mediums of communication and business tools alone to thrive and navigate the systemic barriers we contended with. Black women and femmes rely on social media to advertise and sell goods and services, organize charities and demonstrations, and disseminate content that would likely be censored or ignored altogether in the mainstream.
It was black women who created the hashtags #blacklivesmatter and #sayhername that brought visibility to the modern day suffering of black communities at the hands of law enforcement and the criminal justice system. It was black women who organized online donation drives for poor black communities affected by Hurricane Harvey. And it is black women who are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs, seeing a 605 percent increase in entrepreneurship from 1997 to 2017, according to the 2017 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.
Americans everywhere extended a huge “thank you” to black women this week, following the victory of democrat Doug Jones in the United States Senate special election in Alabama. It was black women’s political advocacy and voting power—despite conservatives’ blatant voter suppression tactics—that pushed Jones to a narrow win over alleged pedophile and republican candidate Roy Moore. Keep that gratitude going by understanding how black women will be impacted by the loss of net neutrality, and doing your part to fight it.
Resistbot, a non-profit political organizing group, has made contacting Congress easier than ever. By texting “RESIST” to 504-09, you can find out who your state representatives and senators are and contact them. For the phone call-phobic, you can draft a short letter via text message that Resistbot will then polish and send off. Just be sure to follow all of the prompts from the automated responses to confirm your letter is actually sent! Applying pressure to our elected officials lets them know that we, the people are holding them accountable for their duty to represent and vote in alignment with the interests of the citizens keeping them in office.