Nikita Richardson
June 03, 2015 6:59 am

The internet can be a great place to share parts of your life with both people you love and care about and networks of strangers who relate to your journey. But that ability to share also come with a dark side: Often, images or ideas can be tainted or misconstrued when the people who originally share them lose control of the message. That’s what happened Adam Harris, a black man whose gorgeous photos of his wedding day—which depict the young groom crying upon seeing his bride—became fodder for racist and sexist memes just a few months after he shared them on Tumblr.

According to Harris, he originally shared the photos from his September wedding to his now-wife Tisa on his Tumblr, so friends and followers could see what a wonderful day it had been. The original post garnered only about 20 notes from friends and family. But somewhere between the posting on September 21 and  December, Harris photos were meme-ified by Instagram user DerrickJaxn who took two photos of Harris crying and an image of the bride and added the caption, “When you finally woke up and realized that having a lot of women can’t compare to just one that’s loyal.” That post earned DerrickJaxn more than 11,700 likes.

Harris was made aware of the photo by his sister-in-law, and though he wasn’t too happy to see his photos being misused, he though the sentiment was somewhat “sweet,” though it fed into a negative stereotype that portrays black men as players who will only “settle down” for the right woman. Still, he just let it be, most likely thinking it would blow over.

But late last month, Harris’ wedding day photos were meme-ified again, this time on Twitter by the person (or people) who run the @MeninistTweet account. Four of Harris’ wedding day photos were stitched together and captioned it, “He’s thinking about all the side hoes he has to give up.” The tweet, which was seen by thousands of supporters of the anti-feminist Meninest movement as well as others, went semi-viral with 6,600+ retweets and even more favorites. And it began attracting the sort of racist vitriol one would expect, including comments that Harris was wearing a banana peel on his lapel.

The good news is the tweet also began attracting a wave of criticism with some users accusing @MeninistTweet of racism and appropriating.

Harris had the option of just letting this new, more inappropriate meme blow over, but he decided to step up and take control of his story, his images, and his wedding day with just one tweet:

His response went 15 times more viral. People all around the world replied to him applauding his takedown of the memes, and wishing him and his wife well.

“The MeninistTweet account is vile,” Harris wrote in a blog post five days later. “Parody is one thing, rape “jokes” are another and they are never okay in any capacity. I responded for two reasons: to correct an account that has consistently degraded women and because I will not allow them to shift the focus of our special moment to something else.”

He goes onto to say how “witty” and “attractive” his best friend and wife of seven months is and insists that she did not pressure him into responding, but that he felt it was imperative “to simply reply to something that is wrong and fix it.”

“Men, we have to do better,” Harris concludes. “In general. We just have to do better. Every little bit counts.”

[Image via, Photography by Dustin Finkelstein]

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