On Dec. 14, 2017, the Trump Administration’s Federal Communications Committee (FCC) voted to end yet another facet of the Obama era: net neutrality.
This rule, enacted in 2015, stated that broadband internet service providers were to treat all websites the same, thereby disallowing these big corporations to dictate which sites their customers have access to.
In layman’s terms: The net neutrality principle made it so that companies like AT&T and Comcast could not control your use of the internet.
But that rule has now been repealed thanks to the majority-Republican FCC, and its chairman, Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer and Trump appointee.
Much like every political development in America as of late, the FCC likely moved without communities of color in mind. On average, according to the Pew Research Center, Black and Latinos rely heavily on their smartphones for internet access to information, such as health-related research, access to government services, online banking, job information and education materials.
This means that companies that now rule the lay of the land online, will be able to provide––or not provide––access to these resources at their whim.
Luckily for us all, we have a few weeks to get our ducks in a row. And this means we should take certain courses of action. Injected with equal parts reality and comic relief, here are six things Black folks can do to prepare for the end of net neutrality.
Get your email accounts on deck
Listen, if there is anything we are good at, it’s doing what’s necessary for a free trial. If these broadband internet providers decide that we will have to pay to see certain content online, now might be a good time to dust off that old AOL screen name. It might also be a good time to warm up that Hotmail (it’s called Outlook now, but you get the gist). Secure as many email bags as possible; it might be the difference between $12.99/month, because nobody has time for that.
Use #BlackTwitter as much as humanly possible
In the post-net neutrality era, who knows what will happen to social media. Since its inception, #BlackTwitter has been a conduit of ideas, protests, memes, jokes, and GoFundMe accounts, for the culture. Before you know what’s next, use your voice. You have 280 characters to tell the world how you feel, and we don’t know how much free speech we got left.
Research the political interests of your internet provider
Now might be a good time to use what’s left of the free Web to do ample research on the names and faces behind the country’s biggest internet providers. Who are they? What do they stand for? Are they down with the Trump brigade? The CEO of Verizon, for example, once made the distinction between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, calling the former “unpredictable” and Clinton “more of a continuation” of the Obama era. AT&T’s CEO is a staunch proponent of Trump’s tax cuts. These facts may help you decide who to run with when it comes time to pick your gatekeeper.
The end of net neutrality will likely also slow down the free flow of information––and we of all people cannot afford that. So, in the next few weeks, getting that ‘ol’ thang back’ could be a good practice. Try shelling out that extra dollar for a newspaper you trust, racking up on some books that may help you navigate current events and your personal life, and loading up on subscriptions to magazines that keep you sharp. In the age of the not-so-free internet, a mind would be a terrible thing to waste.
Find out who to stalk in your local rep’s office
Senate Minority Leader, Charles Schumer, is looking to hit back against the FCC’s ruling by forcing a Congress vote via the Congressional Review Act. If enacted, Congress could be given the chance to overturn the FCC’s decision. Take some time to figure out who your reps are, and the best ways to stalk them. FYI: Here are all the reps who support the end of net neutrality. Just so you know who the lost causes are.
Because we know how much Black folks love Jesus, and only He can save us from this internet nightmare.