Race on the Internet

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The Internet has been heralded as a place where there are no genders, no classes and no races, an utopia where everyone is simply a netizen. While others have countered that because Internet users have the option of being anonymous, the Net offers an unparalleled opportunity for people to openly discuss a multifarious array of controversial topics they would otherwise not discuss off-line. But will this openness extend to race? In other words, will the Internet become a medium that is going to bring us together regardless of race or simply exacerbate racial divisions and be a means for hate mongering? Will it allow us to discuss sensitive racial issues that we seem incapable to confront face to face. These are some of the questions we seek to explore in the Open Net e-lab.

* Are web sites, chat rooms, ICQ the best place to have a thoughtful, balanced, discussion on race or are there simply opportunities to voice unspeakable thoughts and unleash prejudices? Is the growth of hate groups on the Net and the digital divide avoidable obstacles on the way to building an Internet that is racially inclusive and facilitative of racial discussions?

* In preparation for helping you answer this task we have arranged a number of links and readings we hope you explore deeply. The best way to utilize this web site is to please read the interesting articles we have posted by Professor Jerry Kang, in the most recent Harvard Law Review, and by Judith Drosnan, discussing identity in the virtual world. Feel free to also browse the optional readings and to take the implicit association test, which may make you reevaluate your own views on race, for better or worse.

* We have divided the site by topic, which is basically a short introduction on the issue followed by a set of questions to prod you on, then a comprehensive list of links that you can use to hopefully answer these questions. We have intentionally included more links than any one human not named Nesson can digest so that each user can dig as deep into each issue as she desires.

* More important than any of the readings on this site is the hope that you can take a look at some of the chatrooms and forums we have included so you can see for yourself the tenor of the discussions going on on the Internet today. Maybe by taking an opportunity to visit some of these chat sites you can draw your own conclusions and have more profound thoughts on this topic. While it may seem daunting at first, we hope you at least give it a shot, it will really help you understand our class presentation better and maybe even make you into a chatting addict. Whatever it is you do we hope that you enjoy our website and have fun.


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