Poynter: How social media can facilitate difficult conversations about race

Poynter: How social media can facilitate difficult conversations about race

“…the “No Wedding No Womb” debate gave Washington’s story fresh perspectives from the black community. It gave voice (or voices) to those who are most investment in that statistic. “

Author : Christelyn Karazin

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Christelyn is married with four children.

by Angie Chuang

A recent, much-buzzed-about trend story by Associated Press reporter Jesse Washington started with a statistic — 72 percent of black children are born to unwed mothers — and incorporated a Twitter debate.

Associated Press Race Reporter, Jesse Washington

Washington, AP’s national writer on race and ethnicity, said he had been wanting to write about the statistic for a while. Then he learned that a newly created “No Wedding No Womb” hashtag (#NWNW) drew 110,000 users and vehement diatribes within weeks.

“I knew I had my hook,” he said in an e-mail interview.

Washington’s example illustrates the power of social media to lend context and perspective to issues of race and identity, particularly ones that can be controversial. In fact, he advises reporters to use the Twitter search function for any story in which it’s important to gauge what people are saying about a specific topic.

I’d go one step further and say that the “No Wedding No Womb” debate gave Washington’s story fresh perspectives from the black community. It gave voice (or voices) to those who are most investment in that statistic. So a story that could have reinforced negative stereotypes became a way to show how blacks themselves are not monolithic on ways to address the problem.

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