The hashtag, JeSuisCharlie, has been a very controversial topic, because it involves people of different religions and ethnicities. It fights for freedom of speech and self-expression, while involving the so-called correlation between terrorism and Islam. The movement started in France because of a tragedy that occurred on January 7th, 2015. A magazine by the name of Charlie Hebdo had published cartoons with offensive images of the prophet Muhammad, which angered Muslims around the world. Portraying images of any prophet is against Islam, and Charlie Hebdo not only portrayed images, those images were sexualized. This added to the anger. Two extremist Muslims took their anger too far by entering the offices of Charlie Hebdo on January 7th and killing 12 individuals. Everyone wants the freedom to express his or her views without any consequence, which is why the movement, Je Suis Charlie, started and then spread so quickly. People want extremists to know that they don’t fear someone who uses weapons against pens.
The hashtag, CharlieHebdo, was also developed to cover topics relevant to the murders and the magazine. Supporters of both hashtags have developed poems, songs, and illustrations. They fight for freedom of speech for people all around the world. A popular slogan was developed that states, “A cartoon will never be a crime. Murder is.” Even an app was developed for Je Suis Charlie. Most people feel that it is ridiculous for someone to murder others simply because of a drawing.
Not long after this event, a movie, called “Timbuktu,” was released about the jihadist invasion of Mali. Jacques-Alain Bénisti, the mayor of Villiers-sur-Marne, almost banned the screening of the movie, saying that it was “an apology for terrorism.” This hypocrisy in France, regarding free speech, was widely criticized. How is Charlie Hebdo given the ability to publish whatever it wants regarding muslims, but an anti-jihadist movie has to be banned? Bénisti hadn’t even seen the movie but claimed that young individuals might come to see the jihadists as role models. Due to all of the backlash, Bénisti apologized for his actions and agreed to reschedule the screening.
Varying opinions on the movement, Je Suis Charlie, have been portrayed in articles worldwide. The hashtag JeNeSuisPasCharlie was developed for people who are somewhat against the movement. While most of the people against the movement believe in freedom of speech, they don’t think that Charlie Hebdo was using his wisely. They believe that the magazine portrayed more hatred towards Muslims than it did anything else. Hebdo tried arguing the images were simply humorous, however, Muslims most likely found them to be extremely offensive. It’s also absurd to think that the cartoons are simply comedic and that they have no consequences. The images are insulting towards such a strong and powerful figure in Islam. It should be quite obvious that they would be offensive.
Despite the beliefs that these individuals have, they do not condone the murders. These murders add to the negative reputation that Islam has already been given. People argue that while this was a great tragedy, there are many larger issues in the world that should be fought for and brought to everyone’s attention. At the time of these murders in France, there was an even larger massacre in Kenya. Nobody created a hashtag for that. There are arguments that this was due to the different races affected by the two tragedies, white versus black. There is also a great emphasis in the news of tragedies that Muslims cause. Tragedies that occur to Muslim communities are rarely brought to attention. These issues revolve around race and religion, which is why JeSuisCharlie is such a controversial topic.
Gary Trudeau, a cartoonist, portrayed his opinions on the murders in France and the images published by Charlie Hebdo. He was quoted in an article in The Atlantic that stated, “…Western societies focus on radical Islamism as the real, or the only, enemy. This focus is part of the consensus about mournable bodies, and it often keeps us from paying proper attention to other, ongoing, instances of horrific carnage around the world…” He also points out a previous issue that occurred in Denmark. A newspaper had published images of Muhammad simply to provoke the Muslim community and see how they would respond. He related this to Charlie Hebdo by stating, “By punching downward, by attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings closer to graffiti than cartoons, Charlie wandered into the realm of hate speech…” The article explains that these viewpoints are placing the blame on the individuals murdered rather than the murderers themselves. Trudeau says that satire is not funny if it is attacking the underdogs in a community. The article argues that it is difficult to determine the true underdog in a community, which would make his point irrelevant.
All three hashtags, JeSuisCharlie, JeNeSuisPasCharlie, and CharlieHebdo, are used to express varying opinions on the topic of the tragedy that occurred on January 7th. This movement is being expressed worldwide in order to portray to extremists everywhere that people aren’t going to live in fear. That all people will stick together and not be silenced by acts of violence against their freedom of self-expression.
Here is the link to my storify:
I couldn’t figure out how to change the cover photo of the Storify project to anything else, so please ignore that. I think that picture is an inaccurate representation of the content of my project.
My storify is at
The hashtag that I am exploring in this project is #IfTheyGunnedMeDown. This hashtag originated after the death of Mike Brown and the following events that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael Brown was an unarmed African American teenager that was killed by a police officer which then sparked riots causing media to flock to the city of Ferguson. As the media reported on this issue viewers began taking note of how Mike Brown and others involved in this issue were represented. Specifically, African Americans were being portrayed as thugs through the use of informal pictures usually posing at a party, holding up alcohol, explicit hand signs or wearing baggy or sagging clothing. Whites on the other hand, were generally portrayed as innocent bystanders through the use of portraits that are very formal, specifically of them wearing their graduation caps and gowns. What happened next is that Twitter users noticed the sharp contrast between how blacks and whites were portrayed by the media. This is what actually spurred the use of the hashtag as the hashtag activists attempted to spread awareness about this issue.
This hashtag was first utilized by the twitter user @CJ_musick_lawya on august 10th 2014 and contrasted a black male posing with a bottle of alcohol with a picture of him speaking at graduation with the caption “Yes let’s do that: Which photo does the media use if the police shot me down? #IfTheyGunnedMeDown”. This hashtag gained a huge following as hundreds of thousands of people began retweeting and responding to it. The group of people that actually contributed to posting on it however was mostly comprised of black males. After some time white males also began posting under the same tag with the purpose of spreading the same message. However, when utilized by white Twitter users it was meant to highlight the fact that whites were also in disagreement with how the media portrayed the majority of white criminals as “mentally ill” and as victims of circumstance. I did notice that there was a severe lack of women, black or white, that posted including this hashtag. The tweets that I opted to include had a mixture of serious activist tweets with a clear message as well as some tweets that satirized the hashtag because I believed that these provided an accurate summary as to what was represented by the tag as a whole.
There has definitely been a media response to this issue as they reversed how perpetrators of crimes were presented. As police brutality gained mass media attention black youths transformed into having a more innocent image as different media outlets began placing their graduation pictures on news broadcasts. White police officers on the other hand began to lose sympathy from the media and began having their mugshots or other unflattering images used on these broadcasts. This stimulated a response from the masses of Twitter users that fell into two major categories; those that sided with the police officers and those that sided with the black youths. The group of people that sided with the police officers cited that many of the blacks that had become victims of police brutality had in fact committed a crime giving members of the police force the right to protect their own lives through the use of force. The other side of this argument noted that the victims were unarmed and had not provoked violence thus the police officers had no right at all to use lethal force to deal with these issues. The hashtag itself developed as all popular memes do as it gained popularity many began satirizing the action providing images such as photoshopped images of themselves that had nothing to do with the activist movement itself. I feel that it is important to note the extremely large amount of sexual content that was posted with the same satirical intent as the photoshopped images (which I elected not to include in my 40 tweets). Overall the response to these purposefully comedic images has been surprisingly positive consisting mostly of laughing emojis and very rarely there would be an individual that felt offended mixed in.
This hashtag exists to try to destroy the cultural bias that exists within the media as they generally attempt to create sympathy for whites involved in any dispute while blacks are given almost the entirety of the blame. It was very encouraging to see that while the majority of these tweets were from black individuals, there was still a significant number of whites that had decided to stop being silent and had actually spoken up in favor of racial equality. This has been an extremely effective means of both provoking discussion and creating thought. I know that I personally experienced a change as this tag gained traction. As an active Twitter user at the same time that this first developed I was able to watch as this tag grew and gained in popularity. I know that I personally had never thought about how criminals were portrayed by the media or the implications behind it until after this specific hashtag. It made me notice more than just the pictures that were used now whenever a tragedy occurs that is reported on I definitely analyze the message that they are sending out and attempt to make my own judgment of a situation based on the facts and events. In conclusion I am very thankful to have come across this hashtag as it helped me to personally grow more aware and develop more understanding of the world around me.
Here is the link to my storify: https://storify.com/cparas22/notjustsae
The hashtag I curated was #NotJustSAE. It was started by Zellie Thomas, when he met with members of the activist group #NJShutItDown at Monclair University to reflect on the 9 second video that showed members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) at Oklahoma University chanting racist epithets. During this reflection, students recalled racist incidents on their own campuses and they all started to lead a Twitter conversation with the hashtag #NotJustSAE. Many people started using the hashtag, first just students recalling incidents they have witnessed. It moved on to being people of all color and age getting involved in the hashtag and posting their opinions. He wanted to show that this topic is relevant to many students and the racism and micro-aggressions are being swept under the rug. The goal of the hashtag was to work to weaken the post-racial period we are in and highlight these micro-aggressions and allow people to see how prevalent racism still is in our society, especially on college campuses. The hashtag mostly put the blame on Greek Life.
The way I organized my tweets of the hashtag was based on the topic of tweets themselves. The first tweet was the one that started the whole conversation. The ones who started the hashtag wanted the conversation to be about racist fraternities and sororities and overall racist experiences on college campuses. Next I showed tweets of pictures of college students dressed in racist costumes with racist remarks in the captions. Each response to the pictures say that it’s not just the SAE chapter at Oklahoma that is racist, many other colleges are the same. Then I included different examples of racist things that occurred at other colleges, such as the University of Maryland, University of Texas, and American University. They include how some Universities push these issues under the rug to hide them. I then showed tweets of people that post their own opinions and experiences relating to racism. Many use the hashtag in a different way, saying that it’s not just SAE, it’s America and that people need to stop blaming only Greek Life. These tweets use the hashtag to show that racism is prevalent in all aspects of life and Greek Life is not the cause. The next set of tweets use the hashtag to put the blame all on Greek Life. They say that college fraternities are where white men are encouraged to be racist and all of them need to be shut down. Many tweets also related to events relating to Ferguson and how they tie together issues of race. I then end with tweets that again support the idea that explain that the hashtag is correct in that racism is everywhere, but wrong in claiming that all of Greek Life is racist. The stories that people tweet about and the pictures that go viral show that racism is all around our society, and a lot of it happens on college campuses, but they cannot be the only ones to blame.
That is the main argument that has come out of this; the two different views of what the hashtag is all about. I saw that a lot of the tweets were by people of color, but many white people contributed as well. And I noticed that the opinions were greatly skewed and couldn’t be explained by their race. The argument is whether or not we can blame the racism that has plagued our society solely on college students and fraternities. This hashtag has allowed people to explain their opinion of what is happening at many colleges concerning racism and challenge each other. People are challenging universities that push issues like these under the rug. I think the hashtag achieved its goal of bringing attention to the issue of racism in our society but failed in its attempt to say that Greek life and colleges are to blame for most of it. The hashtag did provoke a huge discussion about racism and where people think the blame is. Some people think change lies in getting rid of Greek Life, and some believe that change can only come if society as a whole changes. I do not think this hashtag worked properly because its message got lost in the midst of millions of tweets. The argument is so controversial that I think no one will ever truly agree. There are two sides to this issue and the hashtag includes both. I do think it succeeded in bringing the issue of racism into the news even more. I don’t think it has succeeded in provoking change because most people are just complaining about the issue and are not actively doing anything to fix it. This twitter activism has mostly been a way to advertise how prevalent racism is in our society, without doing much to actually bring about change. In order to make a different, I think that people need to realize that the more they argue and are shocked over what is happening, the more time they are wasting where they could actually do something about it. Now that the hashtag has lost momentum and is only being used when another incident at a college campus occurred, I think that many people have already pushed the argument away.