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Shafiqah Hudson, who fought trolls on social media, dies at 46| GuyWhoKnowsThings

Shafiqah Hudson was looking for a job in early June 2014, alternating between Twitter and email, when she noticed a strange hashtag cropping up on the social media platform: #EndFathersDay.

The posters claimed to be black feminists, but had ridiculous nicknames like @NayNayCan'tStop, @CisHate, and @LatrineWatts; They declared that they wanted to abolish Father's Day because it was a symbol of patriarchy and oppression, among other nonsense.

They didn't look like real people, Hudson thought, but rather parodies of black women making ridiculous propositions. Like Mrs. Hudson he told Forbes magazine in 2018“Anyone with half the common sense that God gave a cold bowl of oatmeal could see that these were not feminist sentiments.”

But the hashtag continued to trend, stirring up the Twitter community, and conservative media outlets picked it up, citing it as an example of feminism seriously derailed and “a clear illustration of the cultural trajectory of progressivism,” as Dan McLaughlin put it. a senior writer for National Review, tweeted At the time. Tucker Carlson dedicated a complete segment of his program to satirize it.

So Hudson set out to combat what he quickly realized was a coordinated action by the trolls. She created her own hashtag, #YourslipIsShowing, a redneck that seemed particularly useful, to criticize someone who thinks they're presenting themselves impeccably.

He started adding the trollers' posts and encouraged others to do so and block the fake accounts. Her Twitter community took up the mission, including feminists and Black scholars like I Nasah Crockettwho did some research on his own and discovered that #EndFathersDay was a hoax, as he told Slate in 2019organized on 4chan, the obscure community of web forums populated by right-wing hate groups.

Twitter, Hudson and others said, was largely unresponsive. However, his actions were effective. #EndFathersDay was virtually silenced within a few weeks, although fake accounts continued to appear over the years, and Hudson continued to call them out, like an endless game of Whac-a-Mole.

However, it turned out that #EndFathersDay was more than just an absurd joke. It was a well-structured disinformation action, a kind of trial balloon, as Bridget Todd, a digital activist who interviewed Hudson in 2020 for her podcast, “There Are No Girls on the Internet,” put it, for further action. particularly the election tampering campaigns that began in 2016 with tactics replicated, as the Senate hearings demonstrated, by Russian agents. In retrospect, Ms. Hudson's efforts constituted an early and effective bulwark against what remain threats to democracy.

“It should be validating,” Hudson told Slate. “But instead it has been disturbing and alarming. “No one wants to be right about the real danger we are all in, even if they saw it coming.”

Hudson, a freelance writer who had worked at nonprofits but since 2014 turned to activism on Twitter, died on February 15 at an extended-stay hotel in Portland, Oregon. She was 46 years old.

His brother, Salih Hudson, confirmed his death but did not know the cause. She suffered from Crohn's disease, she said, and respiratory ailments. Her followers, however, knew from her posts that she had had Covid for a long time and had recently been diagnosed with cancer. And that she didn't have the money to pay for her care. Many pitched in to help.

Upon his death, his community I am sorry for your lossand expressed frustration and anger that Ms. Hudson had never been paid by the technology companies whose platforms she monitored or properly attributed by the academics and news organizations that cited #YourslipIsShowing, and that she had not received the medical care she so desperately needed.

“The world owed Fiqah more than it gave her,” Mikki Kendall, cultural critic and author of “Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot” (2020), said by phone. Kendall is one of many Black feminists who took up Hudson's mission and befriended her on Twitter, now called X. “The world owes it to Fiqah to never let this happen to anyone else again. Unfortunately, she is part of a long tradition of black women activists dying impoverished. Who die sick, alone and scared. Because we love an activist until she needs something.”

Shafiqah Amatullah Hudson was born on January 10, 1978 in Columbia, South Carolina. His father, Caldwell Hudson, was a martial arts instructor and author. His mother, Geraldine (Thompson) Hudson, was a computer engineer. The couple divorced in 1986 and Shafiqah grew up with her mother and her brother, primarily in Florida, where she attended the Palm Beach County School of the Arts, a magnet school.

Shafiqah earned a bachelor's degree from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, in 2000, majoring in Africana studies with a minor in political science. After graduating, she moved to New York City and worked at several nonprofit organizations.

I was new in town and alone. She found community on blogs and social media sites, including Twitter, which he joined in 2009. (She chose as her avatar an image of Edna Mode, the imperious fashion expert from “The Incredibles”). And like many black women on that platform, she was mocked and harassed. She received rape and death threats, she told Ms. Todd.

In addition to her brother, Ms. Hudson is survived by her father and her sisters, Kali Newnan, Charity Jones and Mosinah Hudson. Geraldine Hudson died in 2019.

In the final months of her life, Ms. Hudson posted about her deteriorating health and her fears of not being able to pay for her care or housing. She could not work due to her disabilities.

He had moved to Portland, his brother said, because the climate was better for his respiratory ailments. But he couldn't get health insurance. Doctors had discovered that the painful fibroids he suffered from were cancerous. He needed money for more biopsies and for transportation to the hospital. His Twitter community contributed, as always. He did not ask his family for help.

“She was very private and very proud,” Margaret Haynes, a cousin, said by phone, adding that she had spoken to Hudson a few weeks before her death. “She told me: 'I'm fine. If I need something, you'll be the first to know.'”

However, on February 9, he told his followers: “I feel like I'm meowing into a void. And it's raining. And I'm just trying not to drown.”

February 7 had been a difficult day. Ms. Hudson was dizzy and she was in pain, she wrote. She was feeling her mortality and posted about her decision to be single and have no children: “to be an aunt (that is) and not a mother,” as she put it, recalling a conversation she had had with a young family member. . , and representing it with his characteristic wit.

“Let's say that life on a particular plane of existence is a dinner at a restaurant,” he explained, and continued: “Let's say that the life that aunt (I) has chosen is the Salad option. A life without partner(s) or children of your own. Let's say the Soup option comes with Littles and maybe a companion. But you can only choose one. Like. If you choose the family soup, you can't eat the single autonomy salad. “

She talked a little along these lines and then concluded: “Aunt Fiqah chose the salad. Because she only likes soup. And no one will ever be able to convince her that she REALLY likes soup. Or she will come to her senses. Or that she should. The soup should be savored with love and enthusiasm. If it can't be? Eat the salad.”

Mrs. Hudson died eight days later.

Alain Delaquérière contributed to the research.

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