How Black Millennials can overcome racist trolls in the Digital Age
It can definitely be said that this year’s Black History Month has been a trying one especially on social media. Every time you logged into twitter or instagram there was a new thing to be outraged about or someone being cancelled. Whether it was a Virginia statesmen steeped in racist controversy or the luxury brand Gucci releasing a Sambo themed sweater in a show of the true lack of diversity and cultural consideration in the high fashion world. Indeed these slights do not hold a candle to the degradation and abuse that our ancestors and even grandparents have had to endure, but this disrespect fits the time frame and mindset that we are currently in.
The current state of America is constant outrage, so to put the people who make up a large percentage of consumerism and voting demographics in a state of anger and frenzy is a great strategy for staying relevant. In theory one can even walk away with the notion that this bombardment of racism and insensitivity is an underhanded response to all of the progress and prosperity that Black people have been making in Media, Finance, Sustainability and most importantly Politics. What better way to covertly browbeat someone into despair and submission than to show them the true nature of your thoughts on their inferiority and to humiliate them with demeaning tropes. Although these affronts are nothing but affluent and systematic trolls put in place to cause a sense of rage, the expression of those feelings of anger are valid but action is what is needed.
Deciding to boycott a clothing line that the majority of America can not even afford is ideally great yet somehow the point is moot because the power of that dissidence is left mostly to the 1 percentile who can not even come up with a clear idea on how to abstain from supporting a brand that they have flaunted on their profiles. People like Dapper Dan have called for brands like Gucci to be held accountable for their display of ignorance which has resulted in the brand apologizing and now striving for diversity inclusion programs and offering internships. However the true power of overcoming this blatant disrespect is to support and uplift ourselves which can be done by buying from Black owned ateliers like Pyer Moss, LaQuan Smith, SLASHED BY TIA, and so many other brands and up in coming designers. This support allows us to turn a moment of abasement into a shining moment for community growth.
As for political controversies that is something this nation is a little too familiar with especially for marginalized communities. This in part is the reason why it can be perceived places like Virginia where their state government has been plagued with Blackface scandals has left many in the Black community in a nonchalant disposition due to years of systemic oppression. According to the Washington Post Virginians are split 47% to 47% on whether Democratic Governor Ralph Northam should step down after a yearbook photo of him allegedly in Blackface resurfaced. The statistics were broken down even further and showed that 58% of Black Virginians felt that Northam should not step down versus 38% who felt he should. To be fair living in the South and finding out that your elected officials once indulged in racist behavior does not really hold that much weight of shock value as it would in a more liberal setting or in the midst of a twitter storm featuring all kinds of statements and opinions. In no way is it excusable but the way the community handles it speaks to where we are in a matter of racial progression. Knowing who your elected officials really are including the transgressions of their past allows for informed decisions to be made about the political future but it also opens the door for necessary advancement to be made for people that have often been oppressed and ignored. For example Governor Northam has now vowed to spend his remaining time in office focusing on race relations, whether it is sincere or not is to be seen but now he will be held accountable to uphold those promises of helping a community that deserves support.
Instances of controversy and outrage amplified on social media platforms is something we will be dealing with as long as we are logged in. Remembering the simple fact that it is unfortunately an act of trolling allows room for the angst and frustration, but also should result in a better view of the big picture; our outrage is just as profitable as our consumption so we should focus on our betterment. The importance in establishing dissidence is realizing that not unlike those who have come before us, we are constantly being challenged and having our limits tested and if we should learn from their experience it is to know your worth and create the change you want. •