One of the single most annoying things I have to deal with regularly is a white person who is used to being the center of attention and concern. This is worse than my braids being too tight, running out of cereal before milk, running out of milk before cereal, getting my socks soaked in the rain and a thousand other irritating yet small occurrences. This one in particular is special due to the internet. Before the internet, black people could consume media and have those conversations in the peace of their own cultivated environments like magazines, barbershops/salons, the kitchen, the front porch of your grandma’s house, etc.
In comes the internet, where we can still have these conversations on website and chat rooms in spaces we cultivated, still sacred but now non-black people can see the conversations.
And then the big bang of foolishness = Twitter. I’ll start this by saying that I love twitter. It’s like a daily reunion with my play cousins I never see but everyday. However, I don’t care to hear white people’s comments on OUR conversations. I frankly don’t care if they put sugar vs butter in their grits or how they feel about MLK and Malcolm X.
- “Oh my gosh, Lynona!! I definitely love rap music now, after seeing Black Panther!!”
- “The nuanced conversations of Black Panther were very interesting, especially the ‘what are thooooooose’ reference!”
- ” ‘Colonizer’ was one of my favorite parts of the movie! It was so funny!!”
It took Auntie Tubman to not express how I truly felt I that very second. Every black girl that has grown up and lived in predominantly white spaces knows THAT feeling. That feeling when you know you have 2 seconds to decide the appropriate reaction without upsetting anybody because you are sitting in a room of people who outnumber you and can make the rest of your time here difficult. I had 3 options. I could (1) tell them to shut up and go find someone who actually cared about their opinions on Black Panther, (2) drop my fake work smile into a glare for 4 seconds and then go finish that task I was originally doing, or (3) do that high pitched laugh and smile with a thumbs up and walk away before I rolled my eyes. I’m trying to get promoted, so I chose the final option.
As a 23 year old Black girl who is proud to have every milligram of melanin in my skin, read Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes as a child, has muted Drumpf and the Kardashians on twitter, and has cultivated a peaceful existence online and off that doesn’t center Whiteness…. I literally don’t care about white people’s opinions on anything concerning Blackness (the expression or the criticism). I honestly and truly, from the bottom of my Lawry’s sprinkling heart, do not care. Allow me to state the obvious, I never asked for their thoughts on BP. You know they do this thing where they offer unsolicited advice and criticism and we have to pretend that we’re interested. It’s the game we must play until we become fully independent.
This introduces a particular dilemma and I’m excited to see it become less of a problem. For anything to become mainstream and see widespread success, it has to be consumed by the majority. That’s just based on numbers. If 5 million people really like something, but 200 million don’t like it or know it exists, and the entire “society” is 300 million people, it won’t be mainstream successful. And as we have seen in recent years, you don’t have to be good to be mainstream successful. Taylor Swift has 2 Album of the Year Grammy’s. Prince never got an AOTY Grammy. (I’m just pointing out facts.) I’m excited for the day two things happen. (1) When black people can exist freely and comfortably in their own skin without needing to mute or ignore people to protect our peace. (2) The moment when black people can be self sufficient without it being an uphill battle involving blood, sweat, tears, and the prayers of our grandmothers to help us make it through. Until then, we just have to thumbs up with a fake smile and walk away. I can’t describe how much I despise this part of playing the game.