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"Oh, had I but followed the Arts"-William Shakespeare

Friday, May 1, 2015

Special Bits & Bobs: Race & Navigating the Treacherous Waters of Social Media

I originally joined Facebook & Twitter to keep in touch with friends &
family, but as the years have gone by I find navigating Social Media as a Person Of Color an exhausting & disturbing tight rope walk.
People participate on Facebook & Twitter to share a little bit of who they are and tidbits of their lives. As as POC I have to deal with racism in my everyday life, so, yeah, it's going to show up in my timeline. I expect to see racism when I am casually surfing the web, but what I find disheartening is the passive & sometimes blatant racism that I find myself exposed to on my own timeline, from FB & Twitter friends & their friends.
I see racist posts & my friends comments and Likes. I get to see racist memes that get shared, LoL'd and "liked". I see conversations with friends & their friends speaking in what they perceive as "Black Vernacular" as if the height of humor is speaking like what they think of as "ghetto", because that is so far removed from who they are as to make it funny.
I see you & your friends Tsk,Tsk as you post Fox New's fictional "Black on Black" crime, while you lament about "Thugs & Gangsters", two words thrown around constantly when it comes to POC.
I see your Halloween or theater costumes where your idea of dressing as a "criminal" includes, Afros, Bantu knots, Doo rags,  & dreads, all the accoutrements that are a part of Black culture, flashing imaginary gang signs, because nothing says criminal like Black Culture, I mean how else would people know you were portraying a criminal?
If I post an article about the ongoing & seemingly endless murders of Black People at the hands of those sworn to protect, inevitably someone will post an article about how wonderful the police are or try to justify the murder or try to shut me up & shame me for being angry by beating me over the head with a Martin Luther King stick. If I post a status about an instance of racism that has happened to me, you try to tell me that being short or thin or a redhead is the same thing as being Black....No, just No. You don't get paid less, denied housing, charged more for just about everything or murdered for being short,thin or a redhead.

I have no problem having frank discussions about Race, but I think White people haven't been listening or really taking in & digesting the stories of racism from POC. Usually the first reaction is to negate what we are saying by trying to debunk what is happening, basically telling POC that it's all in our heads...we are "post-racial" said from the comfortable perch of White Privilege.
Some people feel Facebook (Racebook) & Twitter are not the forums for race discussions, but if Social media outlets are about snippets of what is going on in our lives then it's the perfect forum because racism is an almost daily occurrence in our lives.
It seems like some of the friends I have on Facebook & Twitter who have POC as "friends" forget that we are there. We become an abstraction, because we are just friends on Social Media, we aren't actually in your life. We aren't in any of your pictures, no weddings, birthday celebrations or girl/boys night out. You have no real POC in your life, so your idea of POC comes from the news or television.
 Well, I'm telling you that we see all the racist articles,microagressions the racist memes, the passive racism you "Like" & Lol.  All the times you use Gangster & Thug to describe POC. We see it...I see it...I see it all. So, are we REALLY friends?