Some Takeaways from Our Mayweather/Canelo Racist Tweets Post

Sep 17, 2013
11:18 AM

Anyone who thinks boxing is a dead sport really doesn’t spend much time on social media, and yesterday when we posted “The Ugly Racial Side of Floyd Mayweather’s Win Over Canelo Álvarez”, we kind of knew that we were entering into some uncomfortable territory, but when has that stopped us before? Like we said in that post, it was this tweet from a Twitter follower that got us thinking:

That one tweet made us look and yes, not surprisingly, a lot of people, mostly people from Mexico or Latinos living in the U.S., were pissed that Canelo lost to Mayweather. One article that picked our story up said, “online bigots concluded that Mayweather didn’t win because of his talent, skill and training. Rather, he won because he is black and that’s definitely not a characteristic to be praised, from a racist point of view.”


That was the uncomfortable part: that Latinos can be racist, too. It is a topic that merits more discussion, and if this post helped to get more attention about it, fantastic.

Nonetheless, these are some takeaways from the online reaction we are getting about our post.

Canelo haters weren’t saints, either.  Just search “Canelo immigration” on Twitter.

You get the idea. It was ugly, too. Nonetheless, saying that Canelo haters were bad doesn’t deflect the fact that Mayweather’s “online bigots” were justified as well. Both are wrong. And don’t get us started about the “more bread and circus” mentality of Canelo’s promoters. Best to not go there. For that, read this.

Social media does matter. One thing that people who don’t understand social media and Twitter keep telling us that we are just giving the idiots attention. That would be true if there was say one or two people calling Mayweather a “pinche negro cabrón” and comparing him to a monkey on Twitter, but when similar thoughts and tweets are shared online in the public space, and then they start to trend, it becomes part of the online conversation. Think of it like a bar: Twitter has gazillions of convos a day, but then there are just a few that attract more people. We tend to focus on those and once you see a pattern, it goes beyond just isolated ignorance. Those tweets can see millions of impressions in a short time. It matters, and the online space does not become a safe space. As one article states:

Although reports are right to highlight and challenge these expressions of online racism, particularly in this weekend’s cases, the tone of surprise is a bit misleading.  Ebony’s Jamilah Lemieux had said it seems as if “the Internet just met the Internet” in recent weeks and that by now we shouldn’t be shocked by online racism. Lemieux is right. Online racism is entirely consistent with offline racism and demographic shifts.

For instance, the number of U.S. hate groups has more than doubled in the last 10 years, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, up to 1,007 active hate groups in the United States in 2012. Deborah Lauter, civil rights director for the Anti-Defamation League, has said that thousands of hate websites are live, “more than we can possibly keep track of.” Survey research indicates that the rise in active hate groups is correlated with census projections stating that white people will no longer be the U.S. racial majority by 2042. The hate surges online when achievements by people of color are noted and interpreted as taking away something to which a white person “should be” entitled. So people like Davuluri and Mayweather become targets because they represent demographic change and new opportunities for people of color, while challenging stereotypes about who Americans are and what they can achieve.

Racist ignorance in virtual spaces may often be misspelled and factually incorrect, but it should be taken seriously because its effects on the recipient can be powerful. According to a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health by Dr. Brendesha Tynes, a professor of Education at USC, of 264 Midwestern high school students, approximately 20 percent of whites, 29 percent of blacks and 42 percent of “other” or multiple races reported being personally subjected to racial epithets or other discrimination online. These young people were more likely to become depressed, anxious and, possibly, less successful academically. What’s more is the effect on race talk in general. The danger of online racism is that people seem to get away with it and public disapproval in the form of reports like this one do not appear to have the same effect in lessening racist speech as disapproval does in face-to-face encounters. For evidence of this, check out the many YouTube testimonials from online gamers via the Gambit Hate Speech Project by MIT-Singapore Game Lab.

Don’t blame Latinos, blame it on the white people. This has also been a big-time critique of our post. That words like “negro” are culturally endearing and that racism all began because of white people and colonial power structures, etc., etc. Don’t blame me for being racist. Now, this is a slippery slope, we feel, since we are very aware that yes, some words in Spanish are part of the culture, but why are they and why do we allow them to be? Why is darkness seen as inferior in Latin America, when, as much as some don’t want to admit it, there is more Afro in Afro-Latino in many Latinos we know? But that is the problem, right? Admitting that (Dios mío) you have darker skin that is from Africa (whether you self-identify more with White Europe or have indigenous roots) is seen as contaminating your ethnic narrative. We wrote the following last year and we still believe it applies to this day:

The point is: race and culture are interwoven in Hispanic/Latino communities, and it has never been a harmonious fit. To deny that reality is to deny that we as Latinos can be our own worst enemy when it comes to racism. If we aren’t bombarded with Univision and Telemundo shows with White, more light-skinned actors living the lap of luxury, all we need to do is look at popular culture: Latinos promote whiteness more than ever. They sell a world of whiteness, and have done so for decades. And that is wrong.

Let’s face it: racism is still Latin America’s ugly secret.

Is ignoring it going to make it go away? Probably not. Is raising the issue to have a serious discussion the way to go? Of course it is.

We have tweets to prove it.

In conclusion, we leave you with the best advice we read from a blog that had also linked back to us about this story:

If you look at the racial comments on twitter, many come from young people. This hate starts at the home. Please talk to your kids, your students, your nieces/nephews, or any kid you have influence over. Racial discrimination is not a joke. We need to improve the dialogue about tolerance in young people so it doesn’t lead to violence.
#onelove #stoptheviolence