Don’t get me wrong. Where racism exists — and it does exist — it should be ferreted out and dealt with in an appropriate manner.
But let’s agree to be done with the innuendos and “dog whistles.” If a company, say Gap Kids, creates an ad that features one black child and three whites, let’s not fuss and fume over the grave injustice done by including only a single black face. (The reality in any case is that blacks, who comprise 13% of the U.S. population, are already over-represented in the ad.)
But perceived tokenism is not the only (or most grievous) criticism of the ad, a still image from which appears below.
Rather it is, as Zeba Blay of the Huffington Post, notes:
The ad was meant to be cute and empowering … but many people took issue with the fact that the only black girl featured in the ad … is essentially used as an “armrest” by her older, taller troupe member….
While the three other white girls in the photo were striking powerful, strong poses, some people complained that the black girl appeared passive, more of a “prop” and a token than anything else.
To understand the problem with this interpretation, let’s do a little thought experiment. Suppose that the taller girl in the picture were black and the one on whose head her arm is resting were white. It’s not difficult to imagine critics asserting that the “message” is that blacks can’t make it on their own — that they have to lean on “whitey.”
Regardless, “Black Twitter,” as Blay terms it, lit up with reactions to the image, mostly negative, some profane. Here’s a sampling (warning: strong language):
— Academic Anntiee is Here for Dafonte (@onewizewomun) April 3, 2016
— Jasmine Wow (@Jmo120) April 3, 2016
— nightshade (@eight4878) April 3, 2016
Who the fuck approved this for an ad? Fuck y'all and this white feminist shit. https://t.co/HWmpdyx3lx
— Bae Guevara (@Thug_Scholar) April 3, 2016
Notice that the last tweet compounds the problem by responding with an unambiguously racist (and, if we’re going to be totally accurate, sexist) attack of its own.
Some grievance mongers will tell you that their goal is to “advance the dialog” on race relations, but that’s a fiction, too. There is no dialog; just monologues such as Blay’s and the current post.
And there won’t be dialogs until the perpetual victims agree to limit their outrage to real — and not imagined — acts of hatred directed at their kind.