Why Anti-Racism Activists Need Screenshots

Another day, another form of emotional labour

Hello friends,

Today I’m going to talk about one of the unseen bits of the labour that lived experience activists do - screenshotting those who leave bigoted, racist and harmful comments on our social media posts.

I know many of my fellow activists do it as a matter of course, every time they create a post and for most of the comments on it. I don’t do it as often as I should, but I’ve had cause to be grateful for the diligence of others many times over.

Why is this necessary? There are a few reasons.

Toxicity, Targeting and “Dirty Deleting”

First, because when we talk about racism, bigotry and discrimination we are often gaslit by people who don’t understand all the nuances. They’ll look at something we post, jump to the wrong conclusion about our motivation, and weigh in with ill-informed and harmful replies. Inevitably, once the first person does that, others will pile on, quickly creating a toxic and harmful space for the original creator.

If they get challenged, rather than be accountable, the offenders will often “dirty delete” their comment or post, so the harm they did can’t be easily found. That leaves subsequent commenters wondering wtf is going on, and it’s where screenshots help to provide the original context.

Second, because in that same situation, people who face isms are often targeted by those who hate them, and might end up with their content hidden or suppressed. Having the screenshots gives them an option to take it to the “jury of LinkedIn” so to speak - their network - and have those folx help to get the content reinstated. And having that evidence can also help others fight your corner if multiple bad-faith reports result in your account being restricted, temporarily suspended or permanently banned.

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