Trauma Porn: Hyper-Consumption Of Black Death And Pain

Trauma Porn: Hyper-Consumption Of Black Death And Pain

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I really don’t want to be writing this article, because it brings me so much pain, sadness, anger and frustration to think about everything that has happened this past week and the past two years. But I have to, because I feel if I don’t share what I feel, then y’all won’t know or be aware of a different perspective about how traumatic and significant seeing Black people killed on camera or in real life is.

My older brother came into my room on the evening of July 5, 2016, and asked me if I heard about the police killing of Alton Sterling, and I said “No…” He showed me the video without much warning of how graphic the footage was going to be. I winced, hearing this man, this husband, this father, screaming for his life…and then silent. My little brother was in my room and watched the video, too.

I sat there in silence, waiting for my emotions and thoughts to gather. I looked at my 14-year old brother, thinking, “I shouldn't’ve have let him watch that. He’s too impressionable.” He looked concerned. He continues to become more worried about his safety and the state of the country every day.

I’m on Twitter and see Sterling’s murder on auto-play on my timeline. I go on my Facebook and see Sterling’s murder on auto-play on my news feed. I was so frustrated with how nonchalantly, and without hesitation, people and friends were sharing this video. But I understand why people were doing this: Awareness. He is was a father, husband and a provider for his family. But I felt it was incredibly disrespectful and traumatizing for Sterling’s friends and family to have this video shared and on auto-play on 24-hour news stations.

Not even 24 hours later, I see images of Philando Castile’s blood-soaked shirt as he takes his last breaths in the passenger seat of a car. This time I didn’t watch, but I listened and read the details from people’s commentary. Now, Philando Castile’s last moments are on repeat on national television. Now, I’m boiling with rage and sadness.

I couldn’t stop picturing my father in Sterling’s position. I couldn’t stop picturing my older brother in the passenger seat. Hell, I couldn’t stop thinking of my little brother in 12-year old Tamir Rice’s place at the park bench. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t stop the rage.

The hyper-consumption of Black death seems like a fetish for our nation. Watching these videos at this point isn’t awareness, it’s psychologically damaging for all of us. It desensitizes us to seeing Black people killed, maimed or abused. We normalize Black pain. Why do we have to prove our pain or death to people in order for them to believe us or listen?

I didn’t start thinking about the hyper-consumption of dead Black bodies and biases of racial pain and death in the media until the massacre at Garissa University in Kenya on April 2, 2015. There were pictures of the dead Black bodies scattered across the ground and floors of the university. Bodies of parents, children, sons and daughters were circulating on my social media and the television for a few days.

I found it odd, yet unsurprising, that the dead White bodies of Sandy Hook and Aurora weren’t on the news to prove their death. Instead, what we were shown for them were their crying and grieving mothers, fathers, siblings and colleagues.That doesn’t happen for Black people. I’m quite positive had the news been circulating their White bodies, the nation would being exclaiming how disrespectful and traumatizing these images were to their families, and being told it is excessive to show their lifeless, bloody bodies.

This is not the case for Black people. Black people aren’t allowed to grieve. We aren’t allowed to be mad or show any extreme emotion when someone we love is taken from us so abruptly by law enforcement, the people who pledged to “serve and protect.” We’re not even humanized after death by the media, unlike our dead White counterparts. The media and consumers of the media are quick to gather all the negative things from our past to emphasize how un-human we are, how we “were no angels,” how our death is justified. Our friends and family can’t catch a break, either. Castile’s girlfriend was put in handcuffs, and along with her 4-year old daughter, was put in the backseat of the police vehicle like they were the suspects. The proliferation of our deaths is not helpful, it's anti-Black.

We have to remember that we all are the media. We play a role in the media now, because of social media; the news gets their content from whatever we make trend. We have more of a responsibility to be conscious of what we share. We have normalized Black death. We have normalized it so much, that when another unarmed Black person is killed unjustly by the police, we think to ourselves, “Another one?” This shouldn’t be happening. The reaction to Black people being killed by law enforcement shouldn’t be the same as when a fly enters our kitchen during the summer. We are complex human beings with a story. We deserve the same respect compared to our White counterparts from the media–YOU–when it comes to our death.

It’s important we pressure the larger and original media like the Huffington Posts, the Buzzfeeds and the CNNs to share unbiased news and title their news with equality. The fact that Brock Turner, the Stanford rapist and mass shooters are humanized and shown more respect than Black victims like Alton Sterling is telling of the racial bias and white supremacy that is prevalent in the media and in our society (i.e. us).

I understand sharing videos of the victims of police murder is considered raising awareness. However, I and many others see it as traumatizing. At this point, two years after Mike Brown, people know about the racial disparity and white supremacy of the judicial system and how police operate, but some still just don’t care. There’s a difference between knowing and caring and being proactive about the situation.

We must continue to contact our elected officials, police chiefs and Congresspersons’ about police reform and gun control. We must continue to have these difficult yet important conversations. Dialogue is one of the best ways to eradicate racism and other oppressive systems, institutions and practices within the United States. Everything that exists is merely a reflection of the people.

Cover Image Credit: Gloria la Riva for President

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37 Things Growing Up in the South Taught You

Where the tea is sweet, but the people are sweeter.
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1. The art of small talking.
2. The importance of calling your momma.
3. The beauty of sweet tea.
4. How to use the term “ma'am” or “sir” (that is, use it as much as possible).
5. Real flowers are way better than fake flowers.
6. Sometimes you only have two seasons instead of four.
7. Fried chicken is the best kind of chicken.
8. When it comes to food, always go for seconds.
9. It is better to overdress for Church than underdress.
10. Word travels fast.
11. Lake days are better than beach days.
12. Handwritten letters never go out of style.
13. If a man doesn’t open the door for you on the first date, dump him.
14. If a man won’t meet your family after four dates, dump him.
15. If your family doesn’t like your boyfriend, dump him.
16. Your occupation doesn’t matter as long as you're happy.
17. But you should always make sure you can support your family.
18. Rocking chairs are by far the best kind of chairs.
19. Cracker Barrel is more than a restaurant, it's a lifestyle.
20. Just 'cause you are from Florida and it is in the south does not make you Southern.
21. High School football is a big deal.
22. If you have a hair dresser for more than three years, never change. Trust her and only her.
23. The kids in your Sunday school class in third grade are also in your graduating class.
24. Makeup doesn’t work in the summer.
25. Laying out is a hobby.
26. Moms get more into high school drama than high schoolers.
27. Sororities are a family affair.
28. You never know how many adults you know 'til its time to get recommendation letters for rush.
29. SEC is the best, no question.
30. You can't go wrong buying a girl Kendra Scotts.
31. People will refer to you by your last name.
32. Biscuits and gravy are bae.
33. Sadie Robertson is a role model.
34. If it is game day you should be dressed nice.
35. If you pass by a child's lemonade stand you better buy lemonade from her. You're supporting capitalism.
36. You are never too old to go home for just a weekend… or just a meal.
37. You can’t imagine living anywhere but the South.



































Cover Image Credit: Grace Valentine

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4 things wrong with The "Why Black Men Don't Date Black Women" Argument

This writer then had the opportunity to go the route of speaking about self-hate in the black community, which might have made an article worth reading, but of course, she didn't.

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I recently came across an article by a creator who writes for the same publication I do. The title was genius. #Clickbait. But that is where the genius ended. Why Black Men Don't Date Black Women is easily one of the most problematic, uneducated, ill-informed and poorly written collection of falsities I have come across in a while, and yes I say that having read Fox News articles. Honestly, it was so bad, it gave me gas. #fixitjesus

Bear with me as I break it down.

1. The entire first paragraph

Okay, the "writer" states that "ever since attending a [predominately white institution], [she had] heard the phrases "I don't date black girls" or "black women are too difficult," from what I am assuming had to be a substantial amount of black men. My two questions are; what Four Loko drinking, skid marks in their boxers having, bird chest in a wife-beater wearing, crusty-heeled black men told her this? And what ghetto, back of the woods, racist institution does or did she attend? This would also suggest that the "writer" believes had she attended an HBCU (Historically Black College or University) that she would have been surrounded by black men a little more *how do I say...* WOKE. Most likely, and maybe she would be a little more versed on issues within the black community herself.

Overwhelming studies show that the majority of black men do indeed marry black women. In 2017, 85% of married black men were married to black women, while only 9% of married black men were married to white women. So, what is this girl even talking about?

In fact, the biggest reason as to why so many black women are single is mathematics. Black women outnumber black men. Period.

She went on to say that white men seemed to "praise" black women and that black men seemed to have a "big problem" with black women. Another study points out that black men are twice as likely to marry interracially than black women. So, let's do a little bit of math. If 15% of married black men have married interracially, that means that only 7.5% of married black women have done the same. So where exactly is all of this so-called "praise" from white men?

And then she briefly mentioned the fetishization and over-sexualization of black women, but glossed over it like a missed comma, only adding that it was "kinda weird." Actually, this is a serious issue for the black community, and I might table this for my next article.

2. Misogyny

Women aren't always void of misogyny. This "writer" then went on to refer to men as "men," but women as "females." Quick grammar lesson: the words "girl" and "woman" are nouns. The word 'female" is an adjective. Adjectives cannot be used without a noun (who edited that article?) I won't get into the articles' other numerous grammatical errors. Aside from her use of the word "female" simply being grammatically weird af, colloquially, the term "female" is used to degrade women and reduce them to a set of sexual organs. Which is why every language in the world has come up with a way to properly refer to women.

3. The dump on white females women (see what I did there?)

"While white women are more sensitive and willing to settle or compromise. Black women just don't put up with no mess."

For centuries scientists, nazi's and bad writers have used pseudoscience to make black people less human. At one point it was widely believed that black people felt no pain at all. In fact, recent studies still find that white people generally think that black people feel less pain as a result of these "studies." Recently, the textbook publisher, "Pearson," was under fire for racist and tone-deaf generalizations of minority groups in a nursing book.

It wasn't okay then and it isn't okay now. So, if we are going to make overarching generalizations about who people are, let's find some factual scientific data to back it up.

I'm assuming this writer is too young to have seen The Brothers. But for those of you over the age of 25, remember when Brian got overly hype about trading in his black judge girlfriend for the white karate instructor? And do you remember what happened? He foolishly expressed how dating a white girl was better because they weren't "crazy," and then he got his ass beat by the karate instructor for stereotyping her. "We don't like bullshit men," I believe were the words she used, referencing strong and independent women of all colors.

4. Racial preference

Again this so-called content creator sorta-kinda stumbled onto something that would have made for a decent article, except, a stumble is all it was.

She went on to say that she didn't have an issue with interracial relationships, and with that, I agree. In fact, I don't think I have met a black woman (or man) that has an issue with interracial relationships. Then again, I don't usually hang amongst trolls.

However, what she could have delved into is the fact it isn't a usual preference to want to date outside of one's race. The Oedipus and Electra complexes suggest that we are attracted first to what we know, which is explains why more often than not, people date within their own race. That isn't to say that people aren't open to dating other races, but it puts a stop to the idea that people generally prefer to date someone who doesn't offer a sense of familiarity.

This writer then had the opportunity to go the route of speaking about self-hate in the black community, which might have made an article worth reading, but of course, she didn't.

When I clicked on this article I honestly expected an intellectual and thoughtful piece on why some black men chose to exclusively date outside of their race. I expected a much-needed piece on the stereotyping of black women, adjacent with self-hate within the black community and how that leads to the fetishization of mixed babies and the sexualization of young black girls, but instead, I got a simple-minded stream of consciousness on how little this writer thinks of both black and white women.

Anywho, I came across this article while writing one of my own and it made my eye twitch. I had to say something.

#fixedit

Cover Image Credit:

Julian Howard

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