I Don’t Care About You Condemning Racism on Social Media

  Vlad Tchomplav via Unsplash
Vlad Tchomplav via Unsplash

I won’t waste too much time talking about what occurred in Charlottesville Friday night and Saturday. It’s not new. It’s been happening for centuries. For people who have been paying attention, none of the events from this weekend are surprising. 

This is America. 

America was built on the literal land of Native Americans, it was progressed by African slaves forced into ships and brought here against their will. To this day, new construction is largely based on white folks deciding an urban area needs rinsing. So, they build a Starbucks and then a Whole Foods; a mayonnaise shop (which ironically fails because the rent is too damn high). Then, they get rid of all the people of color to make it “safer.” 

Make no mistake, what happened in Charlottesville can happen anywhere around the country. Anywhere. 

I hate when racially charged violence occurs in our country. Mainly because it’s racist and shouldn’t be happening, but also because of the word vomit that plagues every social media platform for 24-72 hours after the event. They look a lot like this: 

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Note: I used notable accounts because I’m working on being aware of how I contribute to callout culture, especially of people I care about. I truly don’t want to tear anyone down for caring about what’s happening in Charlottesville and showing that they care via social media. So, white people, consider this unsolicited advice on how to be a better ally. Which is a verb.

I appreciate statuses, favorites and retweets from you all that proclaim black lives matter, white silence is violence and similar sentiments. But it isn’t enough for me anymore. I’m not impressed. I’ve been seeing that since Mike Brown was killed three years ago. The violence feels like it’s gotten worse, but social media posts, and thoughts and prayers have stayed the same. There’s been plenty of love in 140 characters, but little action. Once the strict 72-hour window of giving a shit is over, it’s back to cat videos and RHOA gifs and tweets about how much coffee you’re going to need to function on any given day. 

I know it feels like I–someone who (many times) has been more talk than action–am coming at you for being yourself online. I know it probably seems like I am trying to make you feel bad for your decision to post (or not post) about Charlottesville. I’m not trying to be that way. I’m just fed up. 

I don’t care about your retweets and likes, your Instagram posts and annoyingly long winded Facebook statuses. I care about your actions. 

Don’t tweet when you let your racist uncle say whatever he wants about black folks at Sunday dinner. Don’t post if you haven’t talked to your mom in months because she voted for Trump. Don’t like my shit if you do not and are not willing to actively make space for the people of color to have their voices heard in predominately white spaces. 

Your concern via social media feels fake, forced and I don’t care about it. 

White folks, I need you to use your privilege in secret white meetings, when you’re invited to speak with leadership, but your black colleague of five years isn’t. I need y’all to speak up in the white spaces that you inhabit and start a conversation about race and inequality in America. if you feel like you don’t have the tools to start that conversation, read a book. Use Twitter hashtags like #FergusonSyllabus and educate yourself, then start the conversation. 

If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, bring water and food for protestors of color in your area instead, donate to nonprofits (that are trusted and transparent) actively sending money raised to Charlottesville and other areas where incidents like this occur. 

Lastly, if you must continue your concern via social, I challenge you not to hide it from folks in your circle that you know won’t agree with your “liberal” (caring about black lives shouldn’t be a left-wing trait btw) views. Let disagreements play out in the comments section. Seriously. I’ve seen some powerful things happen. 

What’s happening isn’t okay, but it is normal. This is as American as it gets. I do believe that it will take all of us to combat it, but it doesn’t have to be as drastic as it may feel. White people, whether you denounce white supremacy or not, you benefit from it. I don’t need you to apologize for that. I do need you to use that privilege to change hearts. I need you to have difficult conversations with racist friends and family members. Not because doing so will change their mind immediately, but because eventually, I truly believe they will begin to understand. 

I’d like to end with a sentiment I’ve seen on Twitter during times like these: If you’ve ever wondered what you would’ve done during The Holocaust, slavery, Jim Crow, etc., take a look at what you’re doing right now. Pay close attention to what you say and don’t say. Whatever that is, that’s what you would’ve done then too. 

-BK


How are you fighting white supremacy? Let me know in the comments below. If you’re looking for other ways to support #Charlottesville here is a list of places to donate. 

Why Colin Kaepernick Will Be Blackballed Now and Praised Later

 Photo credit:  Seatacular  via  Visual hunt  /   CC BY-NC-SA
Photo credit: Seatacular via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Last year, San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided he’d had enough. During the August 14, preseason game against the Houston Texans, Kaepernick sat on the bench during the national anthem. He did it again on August 20. No one noticed. It was an August 26 tweet from SB Nation reporter Jennifer Lee Chan that caught the nation’s attention. A tweet that had nothing to do with Kaepernick’s protest. 

 Photo Credit:  Jennifer Lee Chan, SB Nation
Photo Credit: Jennifer Lee Chan, SB Nation

The picture above started it all. Here, Kaepernick (circled in yellow) can be seen sitting on the 49er’s bench during the National Anthem and for whatever reason, NFL fans, zoomed in on the image, saw Kap on the bench and lost their shit. 

If you’re unfamiliar with what NFL players normally do during the national anthem, just refer to the photo above. They stand, remove their helmets, face the flag in the stadium and look serious. This makes spectators unexplainably patriotic. No one has questioned it, until Kaepernick came along. 

I’m not saying Kap was the first athlete to bring attention to racial injustices in America, he wasn’t. Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens and Muhammad Ali did so as well. Even in recent history, Serena Williams, Lebron James and five Los Angeles Rams players have spoken about instances of police brutality and racism in America. 

So why is Kaepernick being persecuted so heavily? Why is he still unsigned? Even teams that could really use him (I’m looking at you Indianapolis–full disclosure, this is my home team I root for) are acting like he doesn’t exist.

What did Kap do that was so unforgivable, so vile that his career is imploding right before our eyes? He did what polite racists have been asking marginalized folks to do for decades: silently protest. He didn’t interrupt any of the 16 games the 49ers played last season, he showed up to practice and as far as I can tell, did what he was told as it relates to football.

The problem is, he did it consistently. He’s still doing it. He’s speaking out on the inequalities in America, he started a program to help youth understand their rights when dealing with police. He even travelled to Ghana to learn more about where he came from. Those who oppose him feel some type of way because for the last year Kaepernick has consistently shown them where his loyalty lies; and even though he says he is committed to football, he is just as committed to using his platform for good. This infuriates his haters. 

This isn’t new, most athletes who speak on human rights issues get an influx of comments on social media telling them to “stick to sports.” But why should athletes–who literally put their bodies on the line for their career–stay silent about what’s going on in the world just to please closeted racist fans? It’s not realistic. 

In fact, it’s not realistic for any of us to solely stick to what we’re the best at and never comment on anything that doesn’t have to do with said thing we’re good at. If that were the case, there’d be no need for us to vote in elections, testify in court or serve jury duty. None of us were put on this Earth to stay silent about the injustices around us. 

What’s even more disturbing about this situation–as sports commentators Shannon Sharpe, Bob Kravitz and many others have already pointed out–is that all Kap did was take a knee. He took a knee while Ray Rice, dragged and beat his now wife on camera. He took a knee, while Ben Roethlisberger allegedly raped a woman; and while Ray Lewis was involved in the murder of two men. All of these men faced public scrutiny, but they didn’t lose their jobs. Lewis was even named Super Bowl XXXV MVP the following year. They were not blackballed from the NFL; they have all been able to return to the field with ease. Meanwhile, Kaepernick’s football career might be over because he had the nerve to take a knee for 16 weeks. 

Something doesn’t add up. 

When athletes and activists speak out against injustices they’re usually critiqued pretty harshly; they’re also usually praised long after they’re gone by the very people once disgusted by their behavior (see far right white folks praising MLK every January 50 years after the FBI considered him a danger to society). I have a feeling in a few decades Kaepernick will be lauded for how he unequivocally condemned the treatment of Black Americans and people of color. I just hope it doesn’t cost him his current career. 

It’s easy for people to tweet their stance on human rights, miss a day of work in protest or write blog posts denouncing broken systems like I do. But Kaepernick has made the ultimate sacrifice, and he’s not backing down. Someone with that type of commitment to equality shouldn’t be ridiculed for his beliefs, he should be commended. And he will be, but probably not anytime soon.


What do you think about Kaepernick’s actions? Should he be signed or move on? Tweet me your thoughts and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram

Photo credit: Seatacular via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA

The Weight of the N-Word

Originally published March 21, 2016.

I grew up privileged. I was raised in a suburb of Indianapolis called Fishers, which has been voted one of the countries safest cities multiple times.

Although I’ve always lived in Fishers, I attended a private school in Indianapolis that housed grades K-8 before trekking out to the suburbs for high school. Even though my high school education was free, I still was fortunate enough to attend one of the best high schools in the state. That was the first time I was surrounded by white people.

My first month there was truly a culture shock. After being in racially diverse classes for the first 14 or so years of my life, I was one of maybe two or three black students taking AP and honors courses. I hated it. I wanted to be in classes where I fit in, where teachers didn’t talk to me like I was stupid and my peers didn’t assume that I didn’t understand the material.

My entire freshman year and throughout my high school career, I felt like I had to choose between being an “oreo” (black on the outside, white on the inside) and being black. I chose to be an Oreo, (I now know there are many ways to be black) but at the time I felt like I had no choice. Especially if I wanted to be accepted into the courses I was trying to take. So I separated myself from other black people. In doing so, I spent much of my four years hating everything that I felt made me black.

In those four years, I let a lot of stuff slide, but the thing I regret the most is letting people who were not black use the n-word.

The word is rooted in hate. It has since been reclaimed by the people it was once used against and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s dope that we’ve taken a word and made it a part of our culture. It no longer defines us in the negative way that it used to. My gripe with white people and their use of the word, in high school and still to this day, is the strong desire they have to say the word and the equally strong desire they have to separate themselves from “those types of people.”

In 2016, 58-year-old Gregory Gunn, a black man, was racially profiled and killed by Aaron Smith, a white police officer of Montgomery Alabama. Gunn’s only crime was walking while black. It’s unbelievable. Equally unbelievable is the radio silence from my white peers in instances such as these. The same people that use the n-word consistently in my presence (and on social media) have nothing to say about the consistent slaughtering of black lives that has been happening.

I have a problem with that. You see, when you choose to say the n-word, you’re choosing to accept all the baggage and history that comes with that word. You’re saying that you understand that blacks are systemically oppressed and that the problem isn’t black on black crime or a lack of education, but that this country was quite literally built by us, but not for us. You’re saying that you understand racism is institutionalized and goes so much deeper than a white kid not wanting to play with a black kid during recess. It’s not a word that is exchangeable with ‘homie’ or ‘friend.’ It’s deeper than that.

My only problem with this word is those who use it freely and don’t get what it means. You see, you can’t use the n-word and then say black lives don’t matter, you can’t use the n-word and then not stand up for your black friends when you see something unjust happening to them. You cannot use the n-word openly on Twitter and then have nothing to say when 12-year-old Tamir Rice18-year-old Mike Brown and too many others to name are getting killed every week in our country for being black.

James Baldwin once said,“To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.” Well, here I am, 6 years removed from high school and furious. I am furious that I never spoke up and that I let that hate speech slide. That’s why I’m speaking up now. I’m furious that I worry about my boyfriend walking home alone at night. I’m furious that every day it seems like another black life is lost to police brutality and racism.

I’m upset, I’m pissed off and I am tired. Because all I’ve ever done is live; and somehow in America, living while black is punishable by death.

-BK


How do you feel about the N-word? Have you reclaimed it among your group of friends, or do you prefer not to say it? Tell me why below and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for more unpopular opinions.

This post originally appeared on Ebony.com.

The Problem With The Breakfast Club’s Transphobic Rhetoric

  Jonathan Velasquez via Unsplash
Jonathan Velasquez via Unsplash

We need to have a conversation about The Breakfast Club and their recent interview with Lil Duval. 

The Breakfast Club, a radio morning show produced by I Heart Radio, began six years ago. Since its inception, it has been dubbed the world’s most dangerous radio show and for good reason. The hosts don’t hold back. 

Co-hosts DJ Envy, Angela Yee and Charlamagne the god invite guests from the music and entertainment industries to come kick it with them for an hour or so. Most guests publicize their newest project for a few minutes; the rest of the hour is dedicated to would you rather questions, addressing rumors, telling stories, or just talking shit. The show is nationally syndicated and there are cameras in the radio booth, so fans can watch the interviews as well

Last week, the trio sat down with Lil Duval to talk about is comedy career. This was in the midst of Trump tweeting that transgender men and women would no longer be allowed to serve in the military. So, the hosts asked Lil Duval about his thoughts on the tweets. His response was nothing short of ignorance. 

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But wait, it gets worse…

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Yeah, that happened. As I write this, no apology has been issued by The Breakfast Club or Lil Duval. In fact, Lil Duval is making it worse by continuing the “fun” on Twitter

I’m wondering at what point do we hold men (especially black men) accountable for using their platform to continue stereotypes and insight violence?

Comedian or not, jokes about killing trans women–especially trans women of color, who are already killed at higher rates–are not funny.

Since these clips have aired there have been countless men applauding Duval for his words. Saying that trans women who don’t disclose that they’re trans deserve to get beat up for “embarrassing men.” Imagine being so transphobic/homophobic that you feel the need to beat up a woman because you found her attractive before knowing she was trans. Trans women don’t owe anyone an explanation. We have to stop validating the rhetoric that says trans women are interested in “tricking” men into sleeping with them when there is no evidence of that whatsoever. 

It’s 2017, not being educated isn’t an excuse anymore. When we have women like Janet Mock, Laverne Cox, Raquel Willis and countless others willing to share their stories and experiences, we need to listen. Then, we need to stand up and fight with them, not call for violence against them.

Misgendering someone is a form of violence. If you’re pro-blackness has limits to it, then you’re not pro-black at all. Black lives matter means ALL black lives. But all black lives can’t matter until trans black lives do. We’ve got to better.   

When you have a platform that reaches millions of people on a weekly basis, you have a responsibility to share your knowledge (and use your privilege) for good. I wish the hosts of The Breakfast Club would’ve taken the time to call out Lil Duval on his “jokes,” especially since they just had Janet Mock on the show a few days before. I never want to see a black program suffer, but it is my hope that the backlash and #BoycottBreakfastClub on Twitter forces the hosts and Duval to rethink what was said on the show and to do better next time. 

-BK


What did you think of Lil Duval’s comments and The Breakfast Club’s reaction? Share your thoughts below or tweet me