I’ve taken a few days to process the events of the week. Originally, my post for this week was going to be on the benefits of meditation with a check in on how my 2021 diet is going – then – January 6, 2021 happened.
I have to say, it’s getting to be harder and harder to live through another historical event, in real-time, on social media. Because I refuse to say that person’s name, we’ll refer to them as Fortee Five from here on out.
As many others, I was glued to my devices watching D.C. be stormed by White Supremacists. Bombs be placed not only at a place of business, but near homes, parks, and schools. I, a Black woman, saw videos of the Confederate flag in the United States capitol. Watch a Black man be chased by a mob of White Supremacists.
This was not white privilege – it was white power on full display. For the entire world to see.
It only took this and *gestures wildly* everything else from the FIVE years (be real with yourself – this started before the 2016 election) before the person at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was finally removed from the platforms he used to incite violence, spread misinformation/fake news, and attack women, people of color, and those who were not able-bodied to be deplatformed. And I then had to sit and watch people call this censorship?
Be Impeccable with Your Word
At Trifecta, we have a quarterly book club to foster continued learning. This quarter’s book is The Four Agreements. Oddly enough, I started reading right as everything was unfolding. The first agreement – Be impeccable with your word.
In the chapter, Ruiz uses Adolf Hitler as an example for why words matter.
Take the example of Hitler: He sent out all those seeds of fear, and they grew very strong and beautifully achieved massive destruction. Seeing the awesome power of the word, we must understand what power comes out of our mouths. One fear or doubt planted in our mind can create an endless drama of events. One word is like a spell, and humans use the word like black magicians, thoughtlessly putting spells on each otherMiguel Angel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
The words we use have the ability to uplift someone or cut them down. They have the ability to spark action or inaction. It’s something we often take for granted.
Have you ever noticed how people tend to agree with a leader if they speak at a meeting? Or how the dynamics of the group change when a senior member attends a meeting. There’s a myriad of reasons for this and one is that there are power dynamics at play. When a leader speaks, people will often agree with them or doubt that the information they posses is critical to a decision. Thus, people will tend to keep their ideas or information to themselves.
The words coming from a person in a position of power carry more weight. Period.
Let’s take this concept and apply it to the highest elected officials in the United States Government – starting with Fortee Five.
This individual speaks and people listen. They listen intently. The take the words feel motivated to act because said person is in a position of power. Over the last five years they have said things like, “Proud Boys: Stand back and stand by.” They also claimed, “there were very fine people on both sides,” in response to Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. They have said, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” in response to Black Lives Matter protestors.
These words embolden and show support for some of America’s original sins. They enable white supremacy. They legitimize the actions of some of the very worst people within the United States.
Deplatforming Is Not Censorship
Let me say that one more time: Deplatforming is not censorship.
Now that you’ve read that twice – let’s talk about this more.
Fortee Five was removed from various platforms because his words have power. That power has lead to people taking horrific actions towards others, the deaths of at least 5 people this week, bombs being left to attempt to cause further harm, and that’s just the beginning.
Let the gravity of the most recent events sit with you for a moment.
Can you imagine what these individuals would have done if they would have reached actual sitting members of Congress? The fact that we may have witnesses live executions? In our country. Or a bomb leveling city blocks and killing innocent people?
You cannot be a person whose words have power, chose to light a fire, and walk away. It’s a privilege to be able to use a platform and when you consistently, egregiously break the rules, then you are to be removed. Milo, Steve Banon, and others have been removed and they are JUST fine.
Lisa Kudrow’s skit in Death to 2020 exemplifies this perfectly.
You’re struggling with a loss power
Now let’s talk about the deep down reason why people think this is censorship. There’s a few reasons why you’re possibly struggling with this or calling it censorship.
These are PRIVATE companies who have Terms of Service that we agree to following in order to use their service. The product of these companies are WORDS. Fortee Five and his followers have weaponized their product. While it’s taken far too long for the tech companies to take real action (unlike with ISIS and other extremist groups), they have finally started to crack down after witnessing the horrific events at the United States capitol on January 6, 2021.
They do not want to held liable and yah know what – I get that.
These individuals and that leader have violated the terms of services thus they have the right and the POWER to deny access to their platforms. Plain and simple.
What does this mean to you? You’re finally witnessing a white person in a position of HIGH power lose some of that. Deep down – that’s scary to you because whether you realize it or not, that’s a crack in the status quo. White people have been the beneficiaries of these platforms and generally do not see the same repercussions as POC do on said platforms.
As a Black woman – I am constantly fighting for power and access to it. Hell, it’s partially why I’ve decided to start my own blog, In the hopes of helping other women. Rather than constantly trying to bring a chair to a table I’m not welcome at or talked over, I’m making my own.
Yes, tech companies have too much power.
Look, this isn’t and either or situation. I can sit here and say Fortee Five, QAnon, and Parler folks can and should be deplatformed while I also believe tech companies have too much power. This part of the battle isn’t new.
The secondary product to our words is our data. Tech companies have unparalleled access to information about us that we sign away in the Terms of Service we blindly click accept on each and every time we sign-up for a “free” product or service. There needs to be better accountability with these platforms and some decentralization.
It’s okay to admit that these platforms have the ability to kick someone off or remove an entire group simply because they say so. The CEO of Cloudflare said as much when he made the decision to deplatform the Daily Stormer in 2017.
So what can you do? Personally – follow Mozilla and support the work they’re doing to keep the internet a safe and healthy place.
For those who don’t know, Mozilla Foundation is a non-profit company that works on specific issues such as decentralization of the internet, helping improve access to the internet around the world, and making sure that people have access to it.
Two simple actions you can take right now:
Donate to the Mozilla Foundation
Your donation to the Mozilla Foundation will help them continue to fight against Big Tech while fighting for your right to privacy. They also provide grants and opportunities to groups and individuals to find innovative ways to manage things like cyberbullying, access to information, and fighting fake news. Donate here.
Download and Use Firefox
Look, I’m writing in this Firefox right now. Firefox is the browser created by Mozilla and is open source. The profits from the company go back into helping the Foundation and you’ll be fighting against Big Tech. Download now.
Where to go from here
Look, Black people know this isn’t our fight. White people, this is yours. And it’s been time for you to do the work. Part of that means understanding and recognizing the different between privilege and power. It means having those conversations with your racist uncle or mom. It means passing the mic. Do the research on what you’re voting for. LISTEN to marginalized groups and actually believe us when we speak.
And I beg you to remember – your words have power.