from #hashtags to movements
The nature of Black women’s presence in constructing and leading digital social movements has historically been rooted in a performative and narrative practice that consistently battle misrepresentation and erasure. As these movements work to evolve from digital hashtags into physical protests and tangible outcomes, issues emerge when centering Black women’s perspective. Through an interactive case study of Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement, we aim to engage the community in a critical dialogue surrounding Black women’s engagement in hashtag feminism through performance, emphasizing the use of collective narrative creation that weaves stories using the intersections of femininity and Black womanhood.
National Women's Studies Association 2019 Accepted Workshop
Recipient of GVU Center, Research & Engagement Grant Award 2019
Brooke Bosley, Georgia Institute of Technology, DM PhD student
Takeria Blunt, Georgia Institute of Technology, DM PhD student
Jihan Sherman, Georgia Institute of Technology, DM PhD student
Dr. Susana Morris, Georgia Institute of Technology, project advisor
Dr. Brandeis Marshall, Spelman College, project advisor
Duration: 8 months, completed November 2019
Key Contributions/Role: served as Principal Investigator and Research
Rationale for Workshop
The erasure of Black works and contributions in academia, film, art, and many other areas in society have long been discussed and detested. Additionally, social and digital activism in practice encounter instances of cultural appropriation controversy: 2017 Women’s March, 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School & #NeverAgainMSD movement. Social media platforms, particularly hashtags, play a key role in propagating a message and building a protest movement. We remain unaware of the process by which these movements transform from real life circumstances to hashtags, then to threads of stories and solidarity, and back to real life in the form of collective action and protest. We believe that the absence of this understanding contributes to the erasure and hijacking of social movements—and subsequently marginalized voices—as seen in the #MeToo movement.
The workshop was around the NWSA Conference sub-theme Politics of Knowledge. The workshop engaged a larger conversation on strategies Black women have used to effectively mobilize individuals through social movements, their erasure in movements like #MeToo and strategies for combating it. The session started with a careful mapping of the #MeToo movement, followed by an analysis of its use of performance and collective narrative building to achieve momentum, and instances of erasure and appropriation through a Black feminist lens. Based on this analysis, the group worked to develop a framework for effectively crafting impactful and sustainable digital social movements that resist erasure and cultural appropriation.