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ECC student’s Twitter post causes racial tension

Screenshot+of+the+conversation+that+ECC+student%2C+%40mikaylaprigee%2C+posted+on+Twitter+that+caused+major+racial+tension+on+social+media.
Screenshot of the conversation that ECC student, @mikaylaprigee, posted on Twitter that caused major racial tension on social media.

Screenshot of the conversation that ECC student, @mikaylaprigee, posted on Twitter that caused major racial tension on social media.

Screenshot of the conversation that ECC student, @mikaylaprigee, posted on Twitter that caused major racial tension on social media.

Ismael Cordova, Editor-in-Chief

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Freedom of Speech is the constitutional right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint. According to Merriam-Webster, hate speech is defined as speech intended to insult, offend, or intimidate a person of some trait, such as race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability.)

You may be asking, how does this affect Elgin Community College? Elgin Community College is a diverse and very accepting community. Just this past August, Elgin Community College students, and faculty signed a “Hate Has No Home Here” pledge in the Jobe Lounge. However, as I was assigned to speak about free speech, I struggled to decide how to take on that idea. On Aug. 31, 2017, it was brought to my attention, that an Elgin Community College student, Mikayla Prigge posted a screenshot of a conversation between her father, her aunt, and her uncle perpetrating African American stereotypes. The text messages consisted of a back and forth conversation amongst the three using slang and finishing each message with the phrase “Does that sound too black?” Prigge then posted this screenshot conversation on her Twitter, @mikaylaprigge, and captioned the photo “Yo, my dad and his siblings got NOT chill,” alongside iPhone emojis. The following screenshot conversation can be seen alongside this article.

African American students quickly backlashed to Prigge’s Twitter post claiming it as “ignorance” and “straight out stereotyping.”

African American student, Temonie Allen, spoke to me regarding this situation.

“There is a fine line between discrimination and freedom of speech. You can tell her father never had a conversation with an African American because that conversation should’ve sounded way more intelligent. I get everyone stereotypes sometimes but with what’s going on in the world right now, and me being from Elgin, that was a bit much. There are times and a place for jokes and now is not the time,” said Allen.

I agree with Ms. Allen. There is a fine line between discrimination and freedom of speech. Freedom of Speech was meant to not censor those who want to share their opinions. However, when an opinion is meant to mock or dehumanize someone, to me, it classifies as discrimination or hate speech. Hate speech is essential to recognize and understand because the only way we can beat out ignorance is by education. Educating people on slang or accents that they may not understand. Educating people on the roots of that slang and accents. By Prigge’s mocking behavior, although it was not all done by her, was inappropriate. Some may say that she didn’t mean anything of it or that she may not be approving of those behaviors but screenshotting a conversation and adding a laughing emoji, seems a lot like approving.

I will never understand how it feels to be an African American in 2017 America. However, I know exactly how it feels to be gay and Hispanic in 2017 America. Under the Donald Trump administration and through our now President, Donald Trump’s seemingly approving gestures, the rising numbers of discriminatory behaviors truly frightens me. From the President’s own approval of discriminatory bills to his pre-elected rallies, every racist, sexist, and homophobic United States citizen believes that their behavior is somewhat excusable. Perpetuating stereotypes is approving those behaviors.

I reached out to Prigge via Facebook and she did not choose to respond to my request for comment. The screenshot conversation has been shared over 90 times by African American students and other students alike. Stand up against ignorance and stand up against those that think your slang or your accent is a joke.

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ECC student’s Twitter post causes racial tension