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Study: How Black Communities Effectively Used Humor to Communicate and Critique Health Information During the COVID-19 Pandemic

A new study has found that Black communities were able to effectively communicate about the COVID-19 pandemic through humor, while thoughtfully critiquing the very systems they’ve been disenfranchised by.

The findings by Rachel Grant, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications (UFCJC) Journalism assistant professor, and UFCJC doctoral graduates Yewande O. Addie and Diane Ezeh Aruah are featured in “From #Rona to #Omarion: Black Twitter’s Hashtag Activism and Critical Discourse of COVID-19 Pandemic” published in New Media & Society on Jan. 29.

The study focused on Black Twitter’s usage of hashtag activism during the COVID-19 pandemic. They found three main discourses: Black popular culture, lack of access and vaccination awareness.

According to the authors, “Our findings indicate that in their discussion of the pandemic, Black Twitter users demonstrate rhetorical power through humor with a threefold purpose in mind: (1) as a clarion call or cultural signal to digitally gather, (2) to collectively identify and critique pandemic responses by national systems, and (3) persuasively negotiate collective trust/mistrust in globally recommended health interventions (i.e. social distancing, masking, and vaccinations).”

They add, “This study adds to the research on how Black communities communicate about health disparities and structural racism’s impact on access and resources. Despite experiencing the exacerbation of ongoing, systemic impacts and physical disconnect during the COVID-19 pandemic, Black people managed to eke out a space to exist online, to commune and turn trauma into joy through laughter, while thoughtfully critiquing the very systems they’ve been disenfranchised by.”

Posted: January 31, 2024
Category: College News, Covid-19 Updates
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