This morning, we found that our Instagram account ‘@TheDreamDefenders’ has been deleted by Instagram administrators, without any warning, after posting graphics that detailed questionable quotes by GOP Presidential candidates via the hashtag #KKKorGOP. Other #KKKorGOP participants who shared graphics using the hashtag #KKKorGOP individual posts were deleted, but our entire account was deleted.
It's also noteworthy that Facebook sponsored, and cohosted the GOP Debate last night. Facebook owns Instagram, and Instagram deleted our account for posts that facilitated discussion and debate via the #KKKorGOP hashtag on Twitter and other online forums.
In times of darkness, the people must have the freedom to shed light. It is truly concerning when privately owned companies like Instagram step over the lines to censor organizations and people that are participating in the Democratic process by challenging people to think critically.
#KKKorGOP is a question that we asked for people to think about. We are working with allies to draw parallels and facilitate debate and conversation.
We are concerned that with brash actions like the one taken against our Instagram account last night, our right to free speech is under attack.
- Steven J. Pargett
Communications and Culture Director, Dream Defenders
Background on the #KKKorGOP Campaign
#KKKorGOP is a campaign hosted at KKKorGOP.com that was put together by a broad coalition of organizers and activists fighting for racial justice and human rights from all over the United States.
On Thursday August 6th, 2015 during the GOP Debate, we participated in the hashtag #KKKorGOP and illuminated the parallels between known white supremacists organizations and political leaders and the GOP presidential candidates and their political platforms.
50 years ago, political leaders like Bull Connor, Fielding H. Wright, and Strom Thurmond ran on political platforms that included racial intolerance, segregation, and blocking any and all civil rights legislation that would increase the life chances of people of color.
Today’s GOP presidential candidates have articulated nearly the same priorities that include repressing the voting rights of people of color, supporting “Stand Your Ground” laws, stopping the fundamental right of migration by force, and defunding critical health care services for communities of color and women.
White supremacy is not just a single person, group of people, or organization. White supremacy is a set of passive personal, political, and cultural ideas that upholds white people and whiteness as superior to all other races and therefore becomes the norm for our society. White supremacy is fluid and remains intact in American society because of our refusal to directly talk about race, power and how they interact. All elected leaders, regardless of their party affiliation, must actively and aggressively work to address and dismantle white supremacy in their platforms in order to serve as President of the United States.
So we ask: Is there a difference between the KKK and the GOP?
Currently, the answer isn’t clear. We demand that the all the GOP presidential candidates draw a clear line between their political platforms and the platform of the White Supremacist groups like Council of Conservative Citizens by declaring that all Black lives matter without qualifications, denounce White Supremacists, and return campaign donations from all individuals and organizations tied to White Supremacist groups as beginning steps to address racial bias in the US.
Find out more at www.KKKorGOP.com
Below are some of the graphics that are in question:
As of 11:45am on August 7th, our Instagram account was restored with all of the pictures that were posted from last night using #KKKorGOP.
There was a wave of public pressure with folks reaching out directly to @instagram about @theDreamDefenders Instagram account being erased and as a result, Instagram reinstated our account. This is a testament to the power of the collective and we appreciate you supporting us. Losing access to our Twitter would mean that we would lose contact with many of our supporters from around the world who are also changing and transforming their communities.
It’s important that you know that the creation of this campaign, and all of the conversations surrounding it, have been a collective process with many from all over. We would specifically like to lift up @AfroChubbz, the artist that made many of the graphics that were shared the night of the GOP debate.
The reactivation of @TheDreamDefenders Instagram is a small win, but there are still several posts by individuals that were also deleted last night using #KKKorGOP that have still not been restored. ‘
We want to know more about the process in which our account, and posts by many other IG users using #KKKorGOP was deleted and why.
We’ve been in communication with Facebook and Instagram and the official response that we received was:
“The account was erroneously removed. We re-instated it a few minutes ago and I’m having the team take additional steps to ensure that this does not happen again. We have also reinstated all photos that were removed in error. Again, sincere apologies for this. “
We intend to set a new standard for truth telling and believe that Facebook and Instagram reversing their actions due to public pressure sets a precedent for the level of discourse and speech that we will continue to engage in.
We will continue to shift culture and have conversations that are at the margins of comfort but of the utmost importance to people who we love.