Double Standards in Media: Psych Today, Joakim Noah, and blacktags
Over the past few weeks, the Internet has been bombarded with articles for so-called experts which hold African Americans in a negative light. First we had the unfathomable article from Psyche Today which claimed that African American women are less attractive than other races. Then we had the Slate article which coined the cringe worthy phrase “blacktags” referring to hashtags in which “black people create and participate the most. Finally, the one that pissed me off the most was the “feel good” article in the NEW YORK TIMES, which spoke of Black Twitter(!!!) and their affinity for this subset of Twitter culture. Now, I don’t usually get on soapboxes about social/political views, but I was compelled to, after reading this nonsense and seeing it regurgitated all over the Internet. While these articles insulted, gave back handed compliments, and characterized blacks, it actually proved useful to me. You see, it opened my eyes and reaffirmed a few things I realized about Blacks in America and the culture in general.
Race will always be used to tell & sell stories
That “scientific” study by the dude who’s name ironically looks like “Kwanzaa”, was the biggest reach I’ve seen scientifically since they said the Earth was flat. This, along with the blacktags articles, show me that in America, race is still the biggest seller. You can create an immediate buzz and get thousands of blog page hits if you piss off a group of people. Facts don’t matter. Just trump up a series of absurd claims, bolstered with “research and opinion polls” and Voilà! You have a winner! This won’t go away anytime soon, and I have to commend the authors for going with a sure thing (media buzz), even if their content is pure drivel. What’s worse is some people will buy into these claims… people of ALL races. I mean, check out some of these quotes:
Twitter 2011 is in fact a wiki-wit machine that specializes in black one-liners in the spirit of Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock and Wanda Sykes.
Over the cycle of a blacktag, too, the voice of users might also swerve from comedy to spirituality, in the style of comedians like Tyler Perry and Steve Harvey. Sure enough, last week, “I wanna slap” led to “I #iWannaSlap everyone that doesn’t LOVE God.”
I don’t think you need to be black to see the underlying racism in these quotes. Using African American comedians to identify our culture with Twitter use…sheesh!
Black People have contributed to this issue
Now, before you jump down my throat, you have to understand that we, as a people, have some blame in the way media portrays African Americans. The blame I place is on the use (or lack of use) of the true power that we wield. I respect the power of the Jewish community. You say ONE THING about Jewish people sideways, and you will be scrambling for an apology within minutes! Why isn’t it the same with us? I don’t criticize people’s twitter use (much), but I believe in balance. Yes black folk have a lot of funny twitter hashtags, and social media entertainment, but I think we need equal amounts of substantial content. I find striking similarities between the power we contain with our dollars and the power we contain on Twitter. The same way that we can use our money better in our communities, and when attacks are made against us, we can use Twitter more effectively as a people more often. I mean, people are setting off revolutions in their countries on Twitter. We can make a difference too, and it would be nice to see that every once in a while too.
Then you have the even greater issue that when we do use social media in a positive manner, it’s almost NEVER accentuated. You all know controversy creates cash, but African Americans deal with the perception of “guilty until proven innocent” daily. We fight a constant uphill battle to change preconceived notions of the volatile racial overtones of Americas past, and the latent racism of the 21st century. It’s almost as if African Americans have to go above and beyond to prove that we’re more than coonin, jokin, and ghetto individuals. I hate it as much as the next man, but it’s the name of the game in 2011 in this country.
We also contribute when we indirectly demean ourselves. I’ve constantly stated how much I hate the term Black Twitter. I hate it because we are the only group that would segment our usage of a social media site
There is a huge double standard with race and media
Just take a look on the news. At least in my city, it seems like any crimes or negativity has a common theme: black people. Think about the general respect given to other races as opposed to us when reported in the media. I find it hilarious, that Kobe and Joakim Noah can get thousands of dollars in fines for saying a homophobic slur (the “other” f-word), yet the n-word is being hurled like fastballs consistently. As someone who adores basketball, grew up on the sport, and has talked more trash than a little bit, I don’t have an issue with it, but it’s interesting that certain language associated with one group of people is tolerated, while language associated with another group is ridiculed.
Media can promote any and all Real Housewives shows and Bad Girls Club’s, but where was the noise for Oscar Grant? Why is it that all of a sudden, they have black women made to look as if they’re in crisis mode? You let them tell it, they can’t get a man, are unattractive, rude, sassy, and will roll their necks and tell you off if you cross them!
OK the last one MIGHT be true sometimes but still, that’s effed up! We have an asinine study done on us daily, yet other races seem exempt. Let’s not even talk about Hollywood!
I appreciated these articles in retrospect, because it forced me to use my mind, look at the world from outside the box, and truly comprehend the effects that media has on race in this country. It made me re-evaluate myself, and whether I was contributing to the problem or to the solution. It made me yearn for my people to grasp the concept of power. To utilize our monetary and social prominence to create real change. To stop resting on our laurels and make a difference. I also want African Americans to be cognizant of how we’re perceived by the outside world. Yes, I enjoy a good #Hoefood trending topic as much as the next person, but when the ignorance outweighs the intelligence, it’s a problem. When we are easy to clown ourselves, we give others the carte blanch to do the same, then they wonder why we are mad because “if Black Peoples say this about themselves, why can’t I?”. Now, I would quit Twitter and Facebook if it became a den for tightassess and 24/7 serious conversations, I like to be entertained by social media. I just want us to see these attacks and ignorance in the media and preemtively triage foolishness like in the cited articles.
Let’s continue to be active in controlling perception, and let’s be mindful of how we’re perceived.
P.S. – You can check my twitter rant on the issue HERE. Start from the first tweet from May 23, and scroll up. It was the catalyst for this post, and kind of sums up my main idea.
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