Far too often, I see too many people using all mediums, including television, radio, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, newspapers, and etc., to show America and the world the worst aspects of Black life. During the very beginning of the 20th century (and even before then), W.E.B. Du Bois asserted that artists should represent the diversity of Black life, but also needed to present the positive aspects of Black life. There once existed a time when Black people had to concern themselves only with racist White people depicting them in only negative and exploitative ways. Although there are still racist White people portraying Black people in the most demeaning and damaging ways, there is a new and growing enemy for Black people: some Black people themselves.
Some Black people do not care what they report about Black life in public. People will present information to the public about Black life that casts us in the most horrific light. Now, I am not saying that I want people to cover up truths about aspects of Black life. I would never tell anyone to do that. In fact, I have presented some of the negative dimensions of Black life in my own writing and in public and private discourses. I have spent the majority of my work and public and private discourse on truthfully disclosing the positive aspects about Black people in America, however. Without a doubt, there are limitless positive things to divulge about Black people.
I am simply too keenly aware of the racial and racist history of America to be stunned when a White person attempts to exploit a Black person publicly. Although I should not be stunned at the fact that some Black people are being just as harmful to Black people in public as any racist White person, I continue to be amazed at how some Black people are finding it cute and profitable to depict Black life in only the most horrible ways. Of course, in America, we are blessed to have the freedom of speech and I would not attempt to limit anyone’s freedom of speech. I do think that Black people should be much more aware of the things they are presenting to America and the world about Black people.
It seems that some Black people have forgotten all about the reality of the struggle we have experienced in this country to gain some respect. Some Black people love to sit around and find all of the garbage they can find about Black people, especially Black celebrities, and try to destroy their reputations. I also see that some Black people even try to exploit the lives of ordinary Black people. Whether you know it or not, what you are doing is mean-spirited and harms the constant progression of Black people.
I would just like you to think about the fact that what you may get a momentary laugh about at the expense of some Black person who does something crazy, the stuff you report about that person stays around long after the laughs are over, especially when you put it into print and publish it. I would encourage Black people to be more responsible about how you talk about Black people and Black life. Again, be balanced in how you present Black life. If you are going to ridicule some Black people, be sure that you praise some Black people too. Fair is fair.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison