Beyond the Laughter: Exploring Notions of Gender, Race, and Empathy in the Landscape of Reaction Memes

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This project explores the significance of viewing social media and technology through the lens of cultural and knowledge production, particularly within the context of Black studies. It emphasizes the role of social media as a platform for communication and the production of cultural knowledge, which influences and integrates into real-world experiences. The project specifically focuses on the interaction between memes, reaction culture, and the representation of Black Gender-Marginalized individuals on Twitter. Drawing on the works of scholars like Sylvia Wynter, Saidiya Hartman, Nicole Fleetwood, Sarah Haley, Zakiyyah Iman Jackson, Toni Morrison, Katherine McKittrick, and Christina Sharpe, the research seeks to understand the implications of memes and reaction culture in shaping identities and examining how they are constituted, ascribed, and organized. The project also aims to uncover what is gained or lost in the viral nature of these reaction videos and how it impacts individuals who encounter these tweets. This research holds significance due to the unique nature of technology as both a liberating and violent sphere of social communication. It recognizes that violence can manifest in visible and shocking ways, but also in practices that obscure the harm inflicted. By examining the nuanced forms of violence that occur on social media platforms, the study seeks to bring attention to these issues in the hope of minimizing and eliminating such violence.


Type of resource text
Date created September 1, 2022 - May 30, 2023
Publication date June 9, 2023


Author Ewin, Tayonna
Advisor Elam, Michele
Advisor Rosa, Margarita


Subject Social media
Subject Technology
Subject Memes
Subject Twitter
Subject Gender identity
Subject Performance
Genre Text
Genre Thesis

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User agrees that, where applicable, content will not be used to identify or to otherwise infringe the privacy or confidentiality rights of individuals. Content distributed via the Stanford Digital Repository may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC).

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Preferred citation
Ewin, T. (2023). Beyond the Laughter: Exploring Notions of Gender, Race, and Empathy in the Landscape of Reaction Memes. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at


Undergraduate Honors Theses in African and African American Studies, Stanford University

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