8 Instances Where the Internet Took On Racism

PHOTO: Taco Cid
Nathan Sloan

Social media helped call attention this week to a Mexican restaurant trumpeting what many said was an offensive message about immigrants.

Taco Cid, located in Columbia, S.C., is outfitting employees with shirts that read "How to Catch an Illegal Immigrant," with an image of two tacos laid out as bait under a wooden box trap. A local high school teacher took the photo, which a reporter then tweeted. The image eventually made its way to major news outlets.

"Of course it's offensive, it's meant to be," Lisa Navarette, advisor to the president at the National Council of La Raza told NBC Latino. "This is simply a failing business trolling for attention." The restaurant owner says the reaction has been "some bad, but some good," and that she has begun to sell the T-shirts across the U.S. and even overseas.

Racially offensive comments are nothing new, but in recent history, social platforms have played more of a role in taking people to task for what they've done or said in these scenarios. Here are seven more examples where users on sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube took on the issue.

Bronze medalist Paraskevi Papachristou of Greece poses for the photographers after the Women's Triple Jump Final during the XVI Mediterranean Games in Italy.
Getty Images/Stringer
A Greek Olympian Tweets Insensitive Joke About African Immigrants

Greek triple jumper Paraskevi "Voula" Papachristou was dropped from her country's Olympic team after a tweet that seemingly derided African immigrants in Greece. "With so many Africans in Greece, at least the mosquitoes of West Nile will eat homemade food!!!" she tweeted in July. Other Twitter users pounced, calling her comments insensitive. At the time of the tweet, Papachristou was getting ready to head to London for the 2012 Summer Olympic games. Despite an apology, she was removed from the team.

Florida High School Students Post a Racist Rant to YouTube

After two teen high school students in Gainesville, Florida, posted a video to YouTube demeaning blacks at their school, they caused a firestorm on the Internet that eventually led to death threats and their withdrawal from school in February.

"It's not even black people themselves, it's the n-----, there's a difference," one of the girls says in the 14 minute long video. The other girl chimes in: "There's black people, they're fine, they're educated, they go to school, they do what they have to do, then there's n-----, who can't talk right, they keep having kids, they can't get jobs. There's a difference."

The school principal spoke out against the video. "There's no place for comments like that, that video here at GHS," he told WCJB. "There's no place for that in the Alachua County Public School System, and [in] my opinion, no place for that in society in general."

A Soccer Fan Tweets Racial Remarks

After professional soccer player Fabrice Muamba collapsed from cardiac arrest during a match in the United Kingdom in March, a Wales man tweeted out messages that he later admitted were meant to incite racial hatred. "LOL, F--- Muamba. He's dead," Liam Stacey wrote about the player, who was born in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. When other tweeters responded in opposition, Stacey proceeded with a series of racist tweets, the Daily Telegraph reported. That cost Stacey a lot more than a few followers.

He was arrested the following day, and eventually spent 56 days in jail after being found guilty of a racially aggravated public order offense.

Hollister Models Visit South Korea, Make 'Slanty Eyes'

A male model for Hollister, the SoCal-themed clothing line, made headlines after he posted an offensive picture to his Twitter account during an August promotional trip by the company to South Korea. The model made "squinty eyes" and threw up two peace signs when visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace, a historic tourist site. In a separate incident during the trip, another model was seen extending his middle finger in photos with customers at a store launch.

Some shoppers posted comments on Twitter threatening a boycott. The company said it fired several people related to the incidents and apologized publicly on its Facebook page.

Sorority Girls Dress Up as Mexican Stereotypes

A Facebook photo of students in a Penn State sorority dressed up as Mexican stereotypes (ponchos, mustaches, signs about cutting grass) made the rounds on Facebook, leading several websites to call them out and the school to consider disciplinary action.

Etsy Sells Memorabilia That Portray Blacks as Inferior

When one woman noticed that the craft site Etsy, where buyers purchase directly from an individual seller, was selling golliwog dolls and memorabilia, she launched a Change.org petition in opposition.

For those not familiar, a "golliwog" is a cartoonish portrayal of blacks that first surfaced in books written in the late-1800s. The character eventually appeared in doll form, with exaggerated features, and in Europe during the first half of the 20th century. "Only the Teddy Bear exceeded the Golliwog in popularity," according to the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Michigan.

The NAACP has also confronted the company, but Etsy hasn't removed the items. TheGrio reached out to the company for comment in October:

"We encourage our members to report or 'flag' items or sellers they feel are not compliant with Etsy's marketplace policies, which they can do via a link on every listing or shop page," a spokesperson told theGrio over email. "We can't comment on private communications or on specific cases, but we do review every report that we get from the community and evaluate them on an individual basis. Etsy policies are written to balance community values with a desire to allow creative expression."

Papa John's has apologized after an employee typed a racial slur on a receipt to a customer at one of its locations in New York City, January 2012.
Papa John's Employee Uses Racial Slur on Receipt

The pizza chain Papa John's found itself in the middle of an embarrassing Twitterstorm after an employee in a New York franchise wrote a customer's name as "lady chinky eyes" on a receipt in January 2012. The woman, Minhee Cho, a communications manager for ProPublica, tweeted an image of the receipt. Twitter users wasted no time in putting Papa John's in its place.

"We are very upset by recent receipt issue in New York & sincerely apologize to our customer. Franchise employee involved is being terminated," Papa John's tweeted in response.

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