Sunday, March 8, 2015
My thoughts on #Blackout #Blackoutday
Some of you have probably seen the hashtag #blackout or #blackoutday trending on your twitter, facebook, tumblr and instagram newsfeeds. I thought I'd write a really short blog post about this.
Anyway the hashtag was started by T'von, the guy behind this tumblr page. And it is a very simple concept, he invited all black people to take a photo of themselves and hashtag it #blackout or #blackoutday (there's a few other variations). He got inspired to start this because he realized that he does not see lots of black people on a regular basis on his tumblr dashboard (or represented in the media in general). He was, like majority of black people, just tired of seeing the European beauty of standards prevailing and being shoved down our throats left right and center (for centuries now) I am not saying that European/white people are not beautiful, of course they are. What I am saying is that black people are beautiful too, but the European standards of beauty (ESB) excludes black people on all levels as the core features and criteria it uses to determine what beauty is, are always opposite of the features held by black people (read pale skin, slim features, straight hair, small nose). Just go on google images and type in "Beautiful women"!! In clearer terms, the ESB operates on the general assumption and agreement that black people, (especially black women) are ugly. A lot of the times this is not said directly to us but mostly just implied, but other times, it is said very loud and clear, like that time a psychologist asserted that scientifically, black women are uglier and less intelligent than white women. Yes that happened. And let's not forget how we are ridiculed for possessing/wearing some of these features but when a white person does the same, they are praised and glorified for doing it. Recent example when Kylie Jenner spotted dreadlocks on for some photo shoot or whatever, she got praises for it, with various media publications saying that it was a really cool look to try. But when Zendaya. attended the Oscars awards in the same dreadlocks, she was bashed by 'fashion experts' on E! They said she looked like she smelled like weed and other drugs!! It is seriously impossible to make this shit up!
This combined with the fact that there is very little to none positive representation of black people in the media (meaning more often than not, black people are talked about in the media when they have broken the law, have been murdered, have beaten up their wives, etc, mostly just plain negative) strikes a desire amongst black people to create some sort of space where they can feel represented, where they can see other black people, where they can celebrate themselves, where they can be like, dude we are black and we are beautiful, we are capable, we are worthy, we can have aspirations, we can reach for the stars etc . Nobody out there is saying this to us. Currently the only dark skinned person I am seeing being celebrated on the media as being beautiful is Lupita Nyon'go. And I absolutely love that she is there, but it is not enough. So it is almost entirely up to us to say it to each other and to ourselves.
And you know what, this shit is serious. A lot of (marginalized) groups such as black people, women, members of the LGBQT community, people with various diasbilities, etc do not get the representation given to white people, Representation in the media is important. A few reasons why representation is so important are stated in this article. And this study about the same will blow your mind :) (ok maybe not, but seriously, read it!) But basically a lack of representation or a presence of negative representation has obvious negative impact on black children, black people and other marginalised people (basically most non white people).
Soooo #blackout was such a simple but powerful and amazing thing. Scrolling down my instagram and tumblr feed gave me so much joy. To see so many diverse black people coming out, smilling and basically saying, I am here, I am beautiful, was just amazing. Queer black people, fat black people, slim black people, black people rocking afros and other natural hairstyles (hairstyles that are too often depicted as ugly/ghetto/tacky in white media- remember that time when Solange's afro was compared to a dog??) My gosh, such joy.
BUT, ofcourse each time when a group of marginalised people create their own space (due to exclusions in other spaces) the people who excluded them in the first place will come out whining and throwing silly little tantrums that all the attention is now not on them :(When talk of making March 6th #blackoutday was going round social media, some white people of course had a problem with it, saying how come they are not included in the movement, saying black people are being "racist" for doing this bla bla bla. Some of them threatened to spam the hashtag with antiblack/racist things (and they did), some of them decided to start their own hashtag - #whiteout. And you know what, this is whole other topic I am not going to get into right now. But bottomline is, white people do not need this, they are positively represented everywhere, everyday is #whiteout day. Remember after so many young black men being gunned down, the hashtag #blacklivesmatter came about, angering many white people who said that #alllivesmatter, which is true, except it is not a white person being gunned down by police in America every 28 hours!!!
The people who created #blackout have decided to make this a monthly thing, woop woop, and the next #blackoutday is on April 3rd.