By Amari D. Pollard
Have you ever tried Googling yourself? Of course you have, you’re human. Usually when you search for yourself on Google the things that pop up are related to your work, or the sports you played in high school or college, sometimes even your address [which is extremely frightening]. But for the most part, all the things you find are relatively positive.
Unfortunately, now whenever Hanna Strong Googles herself the first thing to appear is an article about her and her drunken racist/homophobic outburst.
You can find Hanna anywhere online. The Post Standard, The Daily News, on the site of the famous blogger B. Scott. There is no way for her to hide probably the biggest mistake of her life thus far.
I think the message here is that words are a powerful thing—but social media and the Internet are even more powerful; so powerful they can destroy your present and your future at the same time.
For those of you who haven’t watched the Hanna Strong video, I advise you to watch it before continuing to read this article. It’s not too difficult to find; just type it into YouTube. I myself have watched the video a handful of times—10 to be exact—and have found it quite entertaining.
As I watched that video, my reaction even surprised myself. As a black female and a college athlete [lacrosse player], I wasn’t so much offended by the video as I was dumbfounded by the sheer stupidity exhibited within it.
There are two main problems I have with the situation at hand in this video.
Issue No. 1—Strong is not only a college athlete, but also an athlete at one of the most well known schools in the country. How dumb can you be?
As a SU Women’s Soccer player or as an athlete in general, people are always watching you. ALWAYS. Not only do you represent your team but you also represent your school. Your job is to deliver a win, yes, but to also exemplify the greatness that your school is capable of. That means on the field and off.
Some people may argue that since Strong’s words were not directed at one of her teammates, there is no reason for her to be suspended from the soccer team. Some people may also argue that public humiliation is punishment enough. However, if Strong is allowed to make such angry racist and homophobic comments without any direct repercussions, what does that say about the SU Women’s Soccer team and SU as a whole? That they support and tolerate “hate speech.”
I am 100 percent positive other people have said worse things in their daily lives. Hateful speech isn’t illegal in the real world—you can say terrible things and walk away unscathed. But those people are probably not students at SU and they were probably not exposed on video that was spread on the Internet. [Which can lead us into another issue of the roles technology and social media play in society, but that is a whole other article in and of itself.]
Strong is being used as an example. And what an example she has made.
Issue No. 2—Strong thought it was okay to use hateful derogatory terms. And she was aware, even in her drunken state, that someone was taping her. How dumb can you be?
My problem isn’t really that Strong used those words, but how language in society has led her to believe she can use racial and homophobic language.
The 21st century is all about reclaiming the words that were previously used against you to take away their power. Today, you hear some homosexual people throwing the word queer around like it’s no big deal. You hear some black people calling each other the N-word [With an “ah” ending instead of a “er” ending. As if that makes the word any less derogatory. Either way you spin it—the N-word is the N-word.] as a sign of camaraderie. By using those words so nonchalantly, other groups of people now think it’s okay to say such things.
But then why do some gay people or some black people get mad when a straight person or a white person uses those words?
It’s hypocritical. It shouldn’t be, “I can say this because I’m _______.” It should be, “I can’t say this because it’s wrong.” No one should use derogatory terms in any manner because we’re all human and we should all respect each other.
I changed my mind. I think I have three problems with the Hanna Strong video.
Issue No. 3—Strong exemplifies that the biggest issue in society today is people’s lack of respect. People’s lack of respect for authority, for each other, and for themselves. Now, if Strong respected all three of those things, she wouldn’t have to see her face and hear her name in such a negative light all over the news and all over the Internet.
I think we, as a society, should look at Hanna Strong and then look at ourselves and realize we’re all wrong.
Picture Courtesy of http://www.sourcefed.com