When reading the articles “Black Teens are Breaking the Internet and Seeing None of the Profits” and “Poor Meme, Rich Meme“, I found myself thinking about my students and their own internet usage. As mentioned in the articles, black culture is widely expressed online and creativity is abundant and visible. However, the media they create is appropriated into general culture without credit given back to those who created it.
While reading, I remembered a conversation I had with a student two years ago. We were talking about currency and I can’t even remember the context. I just remember him saying:
“Can I pay for it with 1,000 Instagram followers?”
This line stuck with me because it was honestly very funny. This kid was charming, witty, and African American. He had just moved from Texas and had immediately created a niche for himself in his new school. As I said, he was charming! His joke about Instagram at the moment concerned me though. I was worried about how an 11 year old could have so many people on his social media. I was worried about his safety.
However, looking back after reading these articles, I can see that his social media was his way of expressing himself and feeling culturally relevant. Many black teens are finding freedom of creation and expression online. Yet, as mentioned, they aren’t getting noticed or recognized for it!
This related directly back to the many videos about Creative Commons licensing. This is what students need to be learning about! Many people go online pulling pictures and music without thinking about ownership or copyright. I find myself wondering if Creative Commons licensing was taught about more explicitly to students of all ages, would media of black culture be safer from appropriation? Would their voices be credited in a way that they haven’t been before?