I'm Joy (still) and I'm Black (still) I figured some people may not have noticed this because there are still folks (unfortunately) who wander the globe muttering truly disturbing things such as "I don't see colour" well I hate that. I am most certainly brown-skinned and if you don't see that then you are most certainly not seeing me. Now I figured since we are on the eve of February (a month most Canadians hate because it's cold and awful) we are also on the eve of Black History Month, that being said it's a great time to bring up these key points....
1. Black People Are Not A Monolith
Just because that Black friend you had in school, at work, at camp etc talked, walked, behaved a certain way or didn't mind when you said or did XYZ doesn't mean they speak for all Black People, because we are people that means we all have different experiences, feelings, thoughts and values just like White People do.
2. Tiktok Is Racist (and also Homophobic/Transphobic/Misogynist)and It's Not the Only App That Is
The app itself and the people who run it set up algorithms that specifically target Black, Indigenous, Trans and the LGBQ Community and make it harder for them to go viral, express their thoughts, feelings and experiences and generally enjoy the app like the White, Straight Community is able to.
I'll give you an example or two, I recently dueted a video where a woman had drawn a Black version of Harley Quinn (pretty cool right?), the entire video was literally her drawing the character in timelapse. Tiktok took down my video and cited it as "violating twitter rules and conduct". Huh? Even more recently today I was prompted to change my username (which I didn't do) to a numerical username with symbols because apparently tiktok's username guidelines had "changed" to only accept usernames with numbers, symbols and underscores. Does that make sense? No. Was that happening to other people? No. But it is worth noting that this did appear a day after I dueted a video that called out tiktok's racism when a well known user "consciouslee"(who has over a million followers) known to be a supporter of Black Rights, Trans Rights, Women's Rights and LGBQ Rights, was being shadowbanned.
If you are unfamiliar with the term, shadowbanned it is when apps stop the spread of your content throughout the app and prevent it from reaching others, this is something twitter was known for during the BLM protests or the bombings in Gaza, Instagram is known for this too, it also includes blocking hashtags so users can't find up to date information on current political and human rights happenings. Tiktok was somewhat recently bought out by an American company that's said to have been a big supporter and donor to the Tang Demon so I suppose this isn't surprising however once an app is released into the ether it no longer belongs to the company but the users who create the experience, and given that Tiktok has no problems allowing White Creators to go viral with Black/Indigenous or LGBTQ sounds it's a little (a lot) hypocritical).
3. Black People Like Rock, Metal and SciFi
This ties back into the whole "Black People are not a monolith theme" but there are so many instances of Black People (and other BIPOC) not joining a scene not because they aren't interested but simply because they haven't been welcomed and do not feel safe there. When I visited my cousin in Florida I remember his wife at the time got really excited when I asked her to take me to an Open Mic, she was hoping she would hear some Country Music, and the minute we got in the car she turned up her tunes full blast and sang to her heart's content. She told me she was frightened to go to this part of town and that she'd never been and how she would love to go line dancing but it just didn't feel safe for her where she was living. Black People have had so many beautiful experiences stolen from them because we were made to feel scared or unwelcome, the swimming pool is a great example. The running joke that "most Black Americans can't swim" is directly correlated with the Jim Crow era when White People would throw bleach in the swimming pools while Black children were swimming in it to discourage them from swimming. Every action has a reaction and when it comes to Black People and their interests it very seldom has to do with myopia, or small-mindedness.
4. Black People Can't Fix Racism
Racism was created by White People to underscore and fuel capitalism, if White People could prove that Black, Indigenous, Chinese etc etc People were inferior and subhuman then subjugating them and using and abusing them for free to work the land, steal the land, create the railroads wasn't an issue. By the way this is the same way Hitler was able to justify stealing and killing millions of Jews to the people of Germany, and you can guess what they did with their belongings? Melted down the gold and kept it for their own etc. This system was created so that the English could thrive at a time when they felt like shit, they treated the Scottish and the Irish similarly, why? Because money and power. This is why Black People cannot fix this system, it was not created for us, it was created for White People, more specifically Straight White People and even more specifically Straight White Men. So it is incumbent on White People, Straight White People and Straight White Men to fix it.
5. Black People Don't Want Revenge
I don't know if revenge (on people who've literally never done anything to you) is the going rate for White Rage but Black folx much like Indigenous folx just want to live in a just and equitable society, we don't have the energy or the heart (or lack of heart) for all this oppressive bullshit. We just want to live our lives and as the Rosewood Massacre proved, the problem isn't with Black People not minding their business, it's with White People not leaving Black People alone while we're trying to mind our business.
6. Black People Don't Owe You Education on Racism
It is not incumbent on the oppressed to teach the oppressor, the emotional labour involved in the herculean task of teaching the oppressor how they've hurt you is a job and as such should be paid. Black People have done enough free labour and received absolutely no compensation for it and as we now live in an age of google and youtube and your tax dollars ensure you libraries please do not harass that one Black friend/colleague/co-worker into teaching you about racism. They are already having a hard enough time with being Black in Western society, they do not need the added burden of your feelings and your education. This is also true for other oppressed groups (see also Indigenous, LGBTQ, POC)
As we go into Black History Month please keep these things in mind and remember, most importantly, Black People are PEOPLE. Black People are trying to live their lives, you being afraid of a Black Person doesn't mean that Black Person is scary. If you see a Black Person living their life and minding their business LEAVE THEM ALONE. Black People ride subways, go horseback riding, make music, paint wildlife, take photographs, go bird watching, buy comics, get their hair done, buy groceries, have goals, dreams and participate in all the normal things that human beings participate in because that's what we are so let's all do our best to remember that. Everyone has the right to a fair and equitable life not just Straight, Cisgender, Able-bodied White Folks. Thanks and have a decent February.