This year, no one is safe when it comes to the ridiculous onslaught of ignorance about to people of color. Whether it was the media, celebrities, or members of our own community, the backwards advice and excuses for the degrading of our people was annoying. I write this top 5 list not to be funny, but actually as a public resource for those who might not know they are not helping race relations in an era where we should actually know better. If you are one of these individuals, fix it.
1) The Self-Respectability Preachers. For the last time, sagging pants and black-on-black crime is like bringing a butter knife to a gun fight (pun intended) when discussing the injustice faced by people of color in America. Seriously, stop it. Every black citizen who has been stopped and frisked, beaten and killed do not look like the skewed thug images that Fox News would like you to think. And at the end of the day, even if they did, that does not give them the right to be killed by law enforcement if they were unarmed. Furthermore, the idea that you can fit a better mode of humanity that will make you invisible from racial discrimination is beyond ignorant... it's imaginary. Rather than trying to rationalize ways to avoid fitting stereotypes, find better ways of combating the excuses to take away black lives because of them.
2) White Feminists and Their Double Standards. It's getting tired. You talk about equality and liberation for all women, but your messaging and advocacy only extends to those who are of your pale complexion. As many were reminded of how Jennifer Lawrence and her white peers were disregarded and disrespected during the iCloud photo hack, did you all forget that there were some notable black women like Jill Scott that could have used a shout out. Furthermore, for all those out there talking about leaning in, did you even take in consideration that women of color still have yet to actually get in the boardroom to actually lean anywhere? From constantly excluded various faces of color from the dialogue in general, white feminists act as if there is no intersectionality in the advocacy of all women. Do better.
3) Black Men Not Fighting for Black Women. I'm sorry, but it seems as though social media enjoys making excuses as to why a black woman caused her domestic violence rather than find ways to empathize. What if black women did the same? What if one day they just stopped caring about all of the innocent unarmed brothers who have been murdered and just started making respectability excuses for it? Well right now it seems that black men still cannot unite and support their fellow women even when the same is given in return. Whether it is that ridiculous ESPN reporter trying to consider those women who might instigate being viciously beaten, or Cee-Lo trying to define what real rape victims goes through...all of this is problematic. Step it up.
4) Cultural Appropriators. Twerking, hoop-earrings, and corn-rolls are fine for YouTube videos, Katy Perry, until it's time to post a tweet about Ferguson. It is ironic how white musicians love to be inspired by black culture for profit, but when it is time to talk about the other struggles that come to surviving as black; they, like their concern for the people they misrepresent, disappear. After Miley Cyrus last year, it is very clear that this is more of trend rather than an interest and to try to make it seem like it is something artistic is like comparing Bobby Shmurda to Mozart. There have been enough arguments for why it is wrong and disrespectful, at this point if you are not going to at least take this newfound obsession into awareness for other black causes... fall back.
5) The Silent Famous Majority. All this money, resources, and yet when it comes to actual advocacy for causes that impact the very people who you solicit to every damn day... that gets put on mute? Releasing a statement means nothing if you are not putting your time, energy, and star power into it. And while there are some black stars that made Ferguson a movement beyond St. Louis (shout out to Jesse Williams and J. Cole) the rest of you rather find creative ways to dump an ice bucket over your head. Not taking away from ALS, but why not advocate for both? Oh, because once again, black issues don't warrant your immediate attention due to fear of losing some following that would not have existed if it wasn't for us (you know, the ones who bought your mix tapes and saw your low budget films before you blew up). As much as everyone online can talk about how great Beyonce and Jay Z are as a power couple, please tell me more ways of how they are using that influences for things that actually impact the community rather than their already inflated egos. And if the Beygency gets any word of this, tell them that I better see them channel this same energy for social causes that impact us all.
Overall, I think 2014 has revealed a down season for advocacy. True, we have gotten cases national attention and have done a decent job making them headline news. But that is where the work has stopped. Where are the laws? Where is the actual campaign to make these things not just be a moment but a monument?
We are now 50 years past the signing of the Civil Rights Act and we have yet to see a progression in how our law enforcement treats our citizens of color. Race relations may not be as visibly toxic as the 1960s but that doesn't mean they are as acceptable as they should be. It's time to start getting more up close and personal in our own lives to what is making these issues relevant. Less turning up and more shutting down the discrimination in our society. It starts now.