I hope to bring to you soon:
- A recap on the Cleveland baseball protest, once I’m able to consolidate my photos.
- A copy of an article I wrote regarding the Biloxi mascot issue and the resulting attack on Deloria Many Grey Horses.
But, as time is ticking, I am going to skip those two for now to go straight to an event that will be trending all across social media today:
Today, you will see many of these as Facebook profile pictures.
My cover photo is this:
Today these hashtags are being used on all forms of social media to draw attention to a lapse in Facebook’s name policy. This policy, as it currently stands, has no protection for people with indigenous names – or really any name that isn’t “typical”, “normal”, or as many are arguing, “European”. On the surface, this may seem like a trivial issue. But all issues which may seem trivial on the surface tend to have roots in a much deeper issue.
Why are indigenous names being discriminated against?
Sure, names like “Many Grey Horses” might look suspicious to a computer…but don’t all names have similar translations in English? My surname is of European origin, but in English my surname is “Of The Valley”. Mario Lemieux, ironically, has the surname which, in English, means “The Best”. Shumacher? “Shoe Maker”. I’m sure may indigenous names can be written in their indigenous languages as well. But that’s beside the point… The reality is, Facebook’s name tool often suggests that a name is fake. I’ve had that issue trying to add my name in an indigenous language. And we aren’t alone: our indigenous counterparts in the British Isles have faced similar discrimination which hit the press this year on the Scotsman. (A man battled Facebook to allow him to use his Gaelic name.)
But what if your name is on Facebook and later you’re told it’s fake? This happened to Deloria Many Grey Horses as part of a cyberattack. Deloria was discovered by the Bilox Alumni on Facebook as having been the woman who started the petition against their school’s desecration of the sacred war bonnet and use of the “Biloxi Indian” mascot. She was targeted by Krissi West (BHS 2005), who proudly posted on the Alumni page that she had “reported her for hate speech”. Deloria was also reported more than once for having a fake name. After providing all of the proper credentials, she was brought back to Facebook only to be (reported again and) banned permanently. Fortunately, we were able to get her back and going strong in a matter of hours, but this new tactic of users to silence Natives by using Facebook’s current policy as a tool really added fuel to the already-growing fire of why many of us are being targeted.
So why are indigenous names being targeted?
On the surface, sometimes because of a computer’s algorithm that flags it. But, more and more often, this is happening because users are trying to shut up Natives who use social media to be heard. Yes, social media is changing the face of how we share information, providing a platform for many once-silenced voices in corners like the Reservation or hidden in urban settings to be able to voice their opinions. And those opinions spread like wildfire. But Facebook’s policy is currently allowing trolls, essentially, to remove the Native voice from social media.
Even after we follow the policy and provide all the information needed.
This is why we are using the hashtag #IndigenizeZuckerberg. We need him and his coworkers at Facebook to address the importance social media platforms, like Facebook, have in Indian Country. We need him to recognize that the current policy needs to be reviewed. We need him to develop a better system to keep activists like Deloria, who are fighting for equality and not “trolling” anyone else, from being shut down through loopholes in the policy.
It’s not just a matter of letting people be who they truly are on social media – by their true names and sharing true information – but it’s a plea to stop silencing indigenous voices…not just in the United States…not just in Canada…but really, all around the world.
We are indigenous, and we are a part of the modern world. We are not dead. We are not dumb. We have capitalized on useful tools of the colonized world, and we consider Facebook one of these tools. Stop silencing the voices of these people. Stop asking for their government-issued documents to prove who they are, then allowing this process to happen again and again.
If you are on Facebook, join us. In a matter of minutes, we will be changing our last names to Zuckerberg, changing our profile pictures to one of these #IndigenizeZuckerberg images, and posting hashtags to share the information as much as possible. Be advised that current policy may result in you being a Zuckerberg for 60 days.
Facebook Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1555205128076480/
If you are on Tumblr, WordPress, Blogspot, Instagram, Twitter, and of these other platforms, help us spread the word using the hashtag, these images, these words, and help to bring awareness so we can all have an equal experience in the social media outlets.
Manipulating the “like” hand: