I can honestly say I love(d) Buzzfeed. Although I am annoyed by their 'white person tries ethnic food and realizes ethnic food is where it's at or calls it 'weird' videos and I was given pause by their most recent Try Guys vid in which 3 white men and 1 Asian learn a step routine and perform with a black fraternity, not because I didn't like it, but because white folks immediately rolled into the comments section like 'appropriation? What's that?' I still enjoy it's lists about how Shonda Rhimes ruins lives with every character she kills and who I would be in the Harry Potter universe. It's enjoyable stuff for the most part.
You can imagine my disgust when I read the words '27 questions black people have for black people' online. You see, I smelled the bullshit coming and I knew damn well my nose wasn't ready. But I pressed play anyway.
I'm sure there's some '27 questions white people have for white people' or something similar floating around out there in the buzzfeed universe. But here's the thing. No one is trying to build a wall to keep out white people. No one is gunning down white people in record numbers on a global scale and blaming their clothing, religious beliefs or country of origin for their demise. No one is holding all white people accountable for the actions of individual white people when they destroy property or take lives. *cough* Dylann Roof *cough* So you can understand my dismay when an already disenfranchised, overly ridiculed, undervalued group of folks is thrown under the bus by none other than their own folks in the name of comedy.
I'm assuming that was the goal. To make people laugh. But I'm not laughing and neither are millions of on lookers. We're not laughing because we know the gravity of putting something like this on the Internet in the age of Donald Trump. We're not laughing because we know how important it is to provide context when you make a statement like 'why can't I be black and like school?' Because the reality is you can, mama. And the black folks who don't think you should are either convinced education won't save you, don't feel like they can make it in a classroom or have been convinced that they can make it to success and stardom without a quality education, all things we can have a dense dialogue on.
But what we NOT gon' do is provide a playground for white supremacists everywhere to like, comment, share and say 'Look! Even the BLACK PEOPLE are saying it! How could it be racist NOW?!' And that is what you've done.
Ironically although some participants in the video insisted that black people are not a monolith, they formulated their questions in a way that suggests we are and took it a step further by providing zero insight and purposefully focusing on all the things supposedly wrong with black folks. There were literally two things in this video that did not piss me off. The question about us being on time and the question about discounts. Everybody loves a discount, bruh. Groupon was created by wypipo. But I digress.
Ask me what you want. All the questions. Til you're blue in the face.
But some conversations, scratch that- ALL conversations- pertaining to the black community- need to happen WITHIN the black community. Period.
True 'allies' know it is NOT their place to tell people living with the realities of health, educational and housing disparities with a side of state sanctioned violence how to feel about their situation much less what they can do to change it. It is not even your place to ASK ABOUT certain things without a disclaimer that includes 'and you don't have to educate me if you don't want to because I know that's not your job.'
Asking 'why' black folk are 'homophobic', 'always looking for a discount' or incapable of allowing multiple representations of blackness to exist comfortably so we can 'like anime and school' is ass backwards. Black people know first hand the diversity of the diaspora and personally I've been around black folk with a thirst for knowledge and an affinity for anime all my life, myself included.
Creating and distributing a narrative in which black people demonize other black people for things like disliking natural hair and calling dark skinned women pretty 'for a black girl' when white supremacy is the reason we do that foul shit in the first place is despicable.
Which begs the question- who was the intended audience for this sad excuse for a (comedy?) video and what was its purpose?
All it did was play on century old stereotypes and faux-woke ness in what really could and should have been a private conversation where a lot of misconceptions about black folks, even among black folks, were unpacked.
Instead all we were left with is a disdain for Buzzfeed, a reminder that even that white friend you thought you had is not for you, and what's worse, your home girl with a similar complexion is out here adding fuel to their ignorant ass fire.
With all that said you might be surprised to find I have decided NOT to rip the participants in this video to shreds. I literally JUST published a piece for Blavity exploring the quickness with which we write black folks off as coons for individual instances of fuckery, sometimes rightfully so, occasionally in our efforts to be as woke as possible for these innanets although our actions offline might be less than conscious.
Serena had some wild stuff to say a while back about rape culture. We still riding for her. Erykah just jammed her foot all up in her mouth. Plenty out there still gon' be singin' 'love of my liiiiife' in the most nasal alto tones they can muster. Breezy foul ass is and has remained on my shit list for some time now for his hatred and violence toward women, melanated women in particular- but y'all still rocking to his music talmbout 'you gotta separate the art from the person.'
So I'm separating this dumb ass video from these beautiful black folk and giving them a chance to clarify, apologize, retract their statements, add some context to their concerns, denounce the bullshit that is the video altogether or whatever else they feel like doing- but PLEASE.
Speak on it.
Please don't let this dumb ass video be the only time I hear your voice. Please tell me you're running a black owned business if you were talking about how we love to dance but don't own anything. As if we can't do both. Please tell me you ask white people the same bumb ass questions when you see them running a muck online making videos about how black hair is disgusting and laughing when their white daughters vehemently reject black dolls. Please tell me you've never had these conversations in your whole life with family and friends and buzzfeed was your ONLY option of getting these burning questions answered.
Otherwise you deserve to be written off.
Each individual concern may have been valid in a space where a safe conversation between people willing to create change in that arena was occurring but piling those issues one on top of the other without providing any context to a single dilemma or premise created a faulty, problematic and disturbing narrative in which black people are ignorant, self hating and unsuccessful. Because the world decided long ago that each of us is representative of the entire diaspora, you have just given credence to every white supremacist who has ever uttered the phrase 'you niggers are all the same.'
You spoke about hating natural hair as if a movement of natural hair adoration has not been happening for years now. You spoke about business as if black women are not the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the country. You suggested absent fathers and wanting what other cultures have is specific to the black race as though single white women don't make up the largest group of food stamp recipients and Kim K isn't part black girl part cyborg by her own design.
In the words of the lovely Rihanna, 'where have you been?' Cause half the shit you commented on is swiftly becoming irrelevant in the black community I experience daily.
Perhaps instead of having white people film you asking black people questions you should get out into your community and find the black people who love education and anime, are building brands, have mastered punctuality, don't have an issue with paying full price for anything AND know how to Mille rock.
Cause we out here. And we shining. And it's a damn shame not even our own folks can see that.