Digital Activism Workshop

Digital Campaign Strategy Activity [Adapted from materials created by Mary Joyce, trainer and qualitative researcher in Activism Innovation and Digital Media as well as New Media Operations Manager for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign.]

Questions for participants:

1. What types of personal and collective action might a cyber-womanist or cyberfeminist advocate for and participate in  online? Issues that impact the lives of African and African- Diasporan women negatively (domestic violence and sexual assault, reproductive rights and women’s health, cyberbullying and harassment, missing girls and women, education and literacy, and so on) or social justice/digital humanities projects are two examples.

2. How might religious organizations and religious practitioners engage technology as a site of Black freedom struggle, survival, and liberation?

To provide participants with a formula for creating their own digital campaign strategy.

What is Your Cause?
Goal: To put the participants in the mindset of the activists, we begin by talking about causes. This activity helps us learn what each participant is passionate about. This also ensures that they are identifying their own causes and we are not imposing causes on them.

2. What are some campaigns that could be created around your issue?
Examples: Gwen Carr, mom of Eric Garner, remembers her late son

A Message From Trayvon Martin’s Mother Sybrina Fulton For Mother’s Day
Second Chance Campaign

Social Justice Digital Humanities Projects – this website features a list of projects that engage at the intersections of digital humanities and social justice.

3. Media Choices

Goal: To present and apply a simple framework for making media decisions around your campaign.

Further Reading/Viewing
Clay, Elonda. “Subtle Impact: Technology Trends and the Black Church” Journal of the Interdenominational Theological Center 31: No. 1 & 2 (Fall 2003/Spring 2004), 153-178.

“Introduction” and Chapter 1, “Where We Have Been and Where We Are Headed” in Earl, Jennifer, and Katrina Kimport. Digitally enabled social change: Activism in the internet age. MIT Press, 2011.

Mary Joyce. 10-Minute Intro to Digital Activism.

The Cute Cat Theory of Digital Activism, from Wikipedia.

Zuckerman, Ethan. “Cute cats to the rescue? Participatory media and political expression.” (2013).

Mary Joyce, editor. International Debate Education Association. Joyce, Mary, Digital Activism Decoded: The New Mechanics of Social Change (PDF format) – Publication available from Open Society Foundations

Hill, Symon. Digital revolutions: Activism in the internet age. New Internationalist, 2013.

Digital Debates

Does online activism = slacktivism? Is digital activism reducing activism to marketing, likes, and clicks, making it a commodity? Or is digital activism much more complicated?

Further Reading:

Digital Dilemmas
 – Digital Pornotroping and Online Misogynoir: Gender, Race, and Online Hate
– The Surveillance Assemblage
– Big Data Meets Past Policing Practices – Predictive Policing
– Do #BlackLivesMatter In The Academy? The Activist Commitments of African and African Diasporan Women Academics and Professional Risks
– Digital Activism for Queer and Trans People of Color
Cyberwomanism/Digital Black Feminism

Digital Dilemmas – Small Group Activity

Misogynoir – a term created by Moya Bailey in 2010 “to describe the particular brand of hatred directed at black women in American visual and popular culture”. It discusses the intersection of racism, anti-Blackness, and misogyny that Black women experience. The term is specific to Black womanhood, as Misogynoir cannot be experienced by women of any other race, but can be perpetuated by people of any gender or race. Similarly, racialized misogyny towards Black trans women is called ‘transmisogynoir.’ (See the article, They Aren’t Talking About Me).

The term was further developed and its framework expanded by Trudy of The Gradient Lair. See the post, Explanation of Misogynoir.

We will be discussing a specific type of misogynoir, what I describe as digital pornotroping or anti-Black e-bile, which is a form of gendered, racist e-bile (any combination of behaviors/practices that include toxic trolling, cyberbullying, misogynoir, and graphic sexualized threats of violence) directed at black women in particular and women of color more broadly.

For a deeper description of e-bile, read Jane, Emma A. “Your a Ugly, Whorish, Slut” Understanding E-bile.Feminist Media Studies 14.4 (2014): 531-546. Also see, Jane, Emma Alice. “‘Back to the kitchen, cunt’: speaking the unspeakable about online misogyny.” Continuum 28, no. 4 (2014): 558-570.

Digital pornotroping lies at the intersection of Black Feminist Theory, Internet Studies, and Hate Studies and often discursively invokes slavery and sexuality using colonial and white supremacist logics. Digital pornotroping, in addition to violent, sexualized anti-black trolling in general, are argued to be understudied examples of cyberhate and online hate speech that is frequently directed at black activists, black bloggers, black celebrities, and social media influencers or micro-celebrities.

In this workshop, we will discuss the embodied implications of digital pornotroping for African and African-Diasporan digital activists in order to create strategies for interventionist actions, including regulation, research, and self-care.

Surveillant Assemblage
Surveillant Assemblage (brief description)

Haggerty, Kevin D., and Richard V. Ericson. “The surveillant assemblage.”The British journal of sociology 51, no. 4 (2000): 605-622. [PDF]

Dr. Rob Imre – Mediatization and Capitalization of the Surveillant Assemblage

Predictive Policing – Big Data meets Previous Policing Practices

Big Data on the Beat: Predictive Policing Has Arrived by David Black. CJ Magazine, Winter 2016.

BBC iWonder – Can Big Data Help us Predict Where Crime Will Strike?

“Predictive Policing: From Neighborhoods to Individuals”. From Civil Rights, Big Data, and Our Algorithmic Future: A September 2014 Report on Social Justice and Technology.

Data and Civil Rights: A New Era of Policing and Justice, October 27, 2015
The 2015 Data & Civil Rights Conference brought together people working at the intersection of technology and criminal justice who are committed to creating a more fair and just society.
Publication on Predictive Policing

Do #BlackLivesMatter In The Academy? The Activist Commitments of African and African Diasporan Women Academics and Professional Risks

Digital Blackness Conference – Rutgers University, April 22-23, 2016
Day Two [Note: There are large blocks of time between plenary sessions where the video and audio are silent. You will need to advance the video manually to view each plenary.
Clip featured during the Consultation on this topic begins at 9: 22:30]

Digital Activism for Queer and Trans People of Color

What does the Queering of Black Liberation mean for Africana women in Religion and Theology as community activists, as Womanist and Black Feminist scholars, as clergy, as heteronormative and same gender loving, as cis gendered and transgendered people? The Queering of Black Liberation that we see in the Black Lives Matter Movement and the SayHerName call to action campaign presents a direct challenge to the homophobia and heterosexism of several black religious traditions, especially Black Christian traditions and Nation of Islam.

The Audre Lourde Project – The Audre Lorde Project is a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non Conforming People of Color center for community organizing, focusing on the New York City area. Through mobilization, education and capacity-building, we work for community wellness and progressive social and economic justice. Committed to struggling across differences, we seek to responsibly reflect, represent and serve our various communities. ALP secured and moved into its Fort Greene home, in the parish house of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, during the summer of 1996.

Black Girl Dangerous – BGD seeks to, in as many ways as possible, amplify the voices, experiences and expressions of queer and trans people of color. Since its inception in December 2011, BGD Blog has featured over 300 diverse writers from 3 countries and reached over 7 million readers from every populated continent on earth. With its focus on social justice from a QTPoC perspective, BGD is the only forum of its kind on the web.

Cyberwomanism and Digital Black Feminism

Anna Everett’s book, Digital Diaspora:A Race for Cyberspace. Albany: SUNY Press, 2009, especially her chapter, “Digital Women: The Case of the Million Woman March Online and on Television”.

Everett, Anna. 2004. “On Cyberfeminism and Cyberwomanism: High-Tech Mediations of Feminism’s Discontents.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 30 (1): 1278–86.

Crunk Feminist Collective – The Crunk Feminist Collective (CFC) aims to articulate a crunk feminist consciousness for women and men of color, who came of age in the Hip Hop Generation, by creating a community of scholars-activists from varied professions, who share our intellectual work in online blog communities, at conferences, through activist organizations, and in print publications and who share our commitment to nurturing and sustaining one another through progressive feminist visions.

The Feminist Wire – The mission of The Feminist Wire is to provide socio-political and cultural critique of anti-feminist, racist, and imperialist politics pervasive in all forms and spaces of private and public lives of individuals globally.

Feminista Jones – Feminista Jones is a mental health social worker, sex-positive feminist writer, public speaker, lecturer, and community activist from New York City, as well as a large contributor to Black Twitter. She is an award-winning blogger and author of the popular novel, Push The Button.

The Gradient Lair – Trudy is creator, curator, writer and social critic for Gradient Lair. It is a 3.5 year old womanist blog on Black women and art, media, social media, socio-politics and culture. (Created 2012; ended 2015.)

Hashtag activism and critiques of white feminists’ digital activism from black feminists –  #SolidarityisforWhiteWomen by Mikki Kendall.
The Trouble with White Feminism: Whiteness, Digital Feminism and the Intersectional Internet


Digital Activism for Racial Justice/Black Liberation

Black Lives Matter Network – Black Lives Matter is a chapter-based national organization working for the validity of Black life. We are working to (re)build the Black liberation movement. This is a Movement, not a Moment.

Black Youth Project – The Black Youth Project will examine the attitudes, resources, and culture of the young, urban black millennial, exploring how these factors and others influence their decision-making, norms, and behavior in critical domains such as sex, health, and politics. Arguably more than any other subgroup of Americans, African American youth reflect the challenges of inclusion and empowerment in the post–civil rights period. 

Say Her Name –  The #SayHerName Movement responds to increasing calls for attention to police violence against Black women by offering a resource to help ensure that Black women’s stories are integrated into demands for justice, policy responses to police violence, and media representations of victims of police brutality. The #SayHerName hashtag, was coined by African American Policy Forum [AAPF] in February 2015. AAPF is dedicated to advancing and expanding racial justice, gender equality, and the indivisibility of all human rights, both in the U.S. and internationally.


From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

The eruption of mass protests in the wake of the police murders of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City have challenged the impunity with which officers of the law carry out violence against Black people and punctured the illusion of a postracial America. The Black Lives Matter movement has awakened a new generation of activists.

In this stirring and insightful analysis, activist and scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor surveys the historical and contemporary ravages of racism and persistence of structural inequality such as mass incarceration and Black unemployment. In this context, she argues that this new struggle against police violence holds the potential to reignite a broader push for Black liberation.

Digital Activism for Gender Justice and Human Rights – Global Campaigns

Bring Our Girls Back – Official Website

Adeiza, Matthew. “Here’s What You Need To Know About #Bringbackourgirls Campaign” Digital Activism Research Project website.  May 13, 2014

Digital Humanities and Social Justice
TransformDH – #transformDH is an academic guerrilla movement seeking to (re)define capital-letter Digital Humanities as a force for transformative scholarship by collecting, sharing, and highlighting projects that push at its boundaries and work for social justice, accessibility, and inclusion.”

Digital Activism
The Digital Activism Research Project (DARP)  at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle


Bailey, Moya. All the Digital Humanists Are White, All the Nerds Are Men, but Some of Us Are Brave.  Journal of Digital Humanities 1.1 (Winter 2011).

Nicole M. Brown, Ruby Mendenhall, Michael L. Black, Mark Van Moer, Assata Zerai and Karen Flynn. Mechanized Margin to Digitized Center: Black Feminism’s Contributions to Combatting Erasure within the Digital Humanities. International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing 2016 10:1, 110-125.

Laura RappDeeanna M ButtonBenjamin Fleury-Steinerand Ruth Fleury-Steiner. The Internet as a Tool for Black Feminist Activism: Lessons From an Online Anti-rape ProtestFeminist Criminology July 2010 5: 244262.

Williams, Sherri. Digital Defense: Black Feminists Resist Violence With Hashtag Activism.  Feminist Media Studies, Vol. 15, Iss. 2, 2015.

Karatzogianni, Athina. Firebrand Waves of Digital Activism 1994-2014: The Rise and Spread of Hacktivism and Cyberconflict. Springer, 2015.

Other Videos

Digital Blackness Conference – Rutgers University, April 22-23, 2016

Day One [Note: There are large blocks of time between plenary sessions where the video and audio are silent. You will need to advance the video manually to view each plenary.]


Mark Anthony Neal – What is Digital Blackness? – Prezi Presentation