Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Victor Tan Chen

Second Advisor

Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom

Third Advisor

Dr. David Golumbia


Video games are traditionally seen as the domain of heteronormative white males. The purpose of this study is to explore how racism is transmitted and reproduced within digital communities, and how humor is being used to frame racist discourse in virtual spaces. Digitally, internet memes are widely used rhetorical vehicles, reaching large and broad audiences. The roles these artifacts play in the reproduction and transmission of racist ideology is often obfuscated by the perception that internet memes are "just jokes." This study analyzes internet memes collected from 16 months of communication between members of Discord servers that self-identify as communities for those who are interested in gaming, gamers, memes, and shitposting. The analysis identified a number of ways in which racist messages are shared through visual and language content and the framing provided by their social contexts. Explicitly racist memes were common among the content disseminated among these gaming communities, while implicit racism was expectedly common, but in unique ways. I also highlight three primary types of content that were used to convey racist messages frequently and effectively within these spaces: embodied forms of racism, racial slurs (direct and indirect), and the Nazi, Hitler, and World War II imagery.


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