A Half-step from Blackface or: Facebook, Let’s Break-up.

09/23/2011

Recently, Facebook changed its layout to some sort of logistical clusterfuck that I could hardly recognize or navigate. I’ve been thinking about deleting my Facebook profile for a quite a while now. Mostly it seems to serve as a time waster, source of impotent rage about somebody else’s unchecked privilege, and/or an event planner/invite inbox. I am pretty sure that I can find other sources for all of those things.

When I popped into Facebook yesterday afternoon I was practically whacked over the head with two very different cultural phenomenons:

1) A bunch of people were trying to raise awareness about the forthcoming execution of Troy Anthony Davis (update: Troy Anthony Davis was pronounced dead at 11:08 pm EDT. Condolences to all). Debate the efficacy of activism on the internet if you will, but at least people weren’t letting go without a fight, altho I feel like in the future time might be better spent critiquing and acting against the criminal injustice system.

2) What I shall term the 1/2 a step from Blackface meme:

Exzhibit

Uggghh. where do I even start with why I hate this so much?

Have you noticed this phenomenon? I am aware that all sorts of celebrities have had their pictures appropriated as various shades of this meme, but the only ones that have been showing up in the circles of my internet acquaintances are…pictures of men of color with what I can only call hood-lolcat-style English slapped over the front as some kind of joke.

The first time I saw this, I smirked lightly without thinking about it much. The second time, I cringed. The third, the fourth, and the fifth…I started to get annoyed. And then I was angry, the more I thought about it. And maybe more than a little bit nauseous.

The crappy white privilege-laced cultural narrative that I am interpreting from the recent popularity of this meme: ho ho ho black people are so different from “us”, so funny and all the same with their funny wordzzzzz.

Or better said:

In the blackface myth, there is a white fantasy which posits whiteness as the norm. What is absent in the blackface stereotype is as important as what is present: every black face is a statement of social imperfection, inferiority, and mimicry that is placed in isolation with an absent whiteness as its ideal opposite.

Additional reading about blackface, and links to additional pages about similar phenonems in other USian racist portrayals of various groups of people.

But back to Facebook: I think that we need to break up.  Or at the very least, set better boundaries. I am tired of memes and status updates, and a lot more interested in maintaining real world friendships. And of those friendships that are forced to be relegated to the internet by distance, disability, or illness, I think I would prefer more direct communication.

fin

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