I’ve been sitting on this post for a few months. Debating on whether or not I wanted to open this can of worms or just leave it out to dry. I’m still unsure as I type but… here I am…
As you all know, I spend a decent amount of time watching streamers… okay I’m lying… I spend an enormous amount of time watching streamers. Mostly because I love games, the people I watch are funny and I can’t play as much as I want to so I’m living vicariously through them.
I, like most viewers, spend most of my time in my favorite streamer’s chats and occasionally browse for new content creators. One morning I decided to pop into a stream that I hadn’t been in for a long time. Unfortunately, I wish I had kept it that way.
She was going on a rant about Black Lives Matter being over the top for requesting that Robert Downey Jr apologize for wearing black face in the move Tropic Thunder. Her main argument… it’s just a movie.
Honestly I don’t even remember that being an actual Black Lives Matter talking point. I think she just blended BLM with Robert Downey Jr and just ran with it.
Now I’m almost positive that there is more to this story. What the more is…. I don’t know and frankly I don’t care… I left her stream shortly after her remarks and facial expressions and never went back.
I think I was just shocked that she said that with her full melanin deficient chest.
Thinking back, as I child, I had a similar thought process. I would watch shows like MAD Tv, In Living Color, SNL etc. And whenever someone dressed up and made fun of another culture I found it hilarious. I wasn’t cognizant to the cultural significance, ignorance and demeaning nature of those jokes. In my mind…. it was just a joke…it was just a movie…it was just a skit. No big deal right???
It didn’t take long for me to understand why certain skits weren’t funny to everyone and why they were and still are problematic. I grew up very sheltered and yet I figured out what was wrong… because I, like most decent human beings, developed empathetic compassion.
Educating myself on the racial slurs and stereotypes of my own people and how these tropes were used against us through propaganda and minstrel shows further solidified my cultural sensitivity.
As an adult I can easily articulate why characters like Ms. Swan from MAD Tv just weren’t really funny. I have no problems checking family members and friends alike. I make it known that some things aren’t okay and its as simple as that. It isn’t funny…
And its never just a movie or just a skit.
If that were the case then why are there soooooo many cartoons no longer in circulation? I mean, if its just a cartoon or just a skit then why can’t I find the original Looney Toons that I grew up with on mainstream television?
You know, the ones with Mammy, or the one when bugs bunny wore black face, or the one when bugs bunny pretends to be a slave and says “please don’t beat me Massa!” You know… those old school Saturday morning cartoons… before ONE SATURDAY MORNING was a thing in the 90s.
If you are not aware of Looney Toons horrifically racist past just YouTube it. You’ll find more than you bargained for… trust me
If it’s just a cartoon then why do we cringe when we get to “Everybody Wants To Be A Cat” in Aristocats? I mean come on… that Siamese cat singing with that accent while playing the piano with chopsticks is totally okay right? That was sarcasm
The sad thing about all of this is that in my experience most people who say “It’s just a skit” or “It’s just a movie” lack empathetic compassion. It’s not until it impacts them directly that they are willing to open their minds and accept that certain things are not okay.
And that is truly unfortunate. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken to that fall into this category. For example, I once had a Supervisor, who was a person of color and they couldn’t understand why I thought it was important that my kids know the truth about black history and what has been done to us in this country. One day in particular I was talking about a Textbook that claimed that Black Americans migrated from Africa to America and willingly worked on plantations.
I was upset about the wording and explaining to my coworker (who I mentioned in my post Fighting The Good Fight) that this change in text negates what truly happened to my people, my ancestors. It was at this point my Supervisor jumped into our conversation and looked at me and said that the wording wasn’t a really big deal.
He honestly thought that since slavery was a long time ago (News Flash! Slavery didn’t end, it just goes by different name: Incarceration) and that changing the narrative from kidnapped and stolen to migrated didn’t warrant the issue that I was making it to be. Eventually, he began to talk about how poorly America has treated his home country and the devastation that it caused. He talked about how the American dollar severely devalued their own money to the point that they were forced to convert to the US dollar.
He talked about his country, a U.S. territory, and how glorious they were before American intervention.
Honestly I can’t remember what I said to get him to talk about his country this way… I was really good at my verbal Jujitsu back then…
I let him rant and complain and get it all out. And once he was done I said to him
“And you don’t want your children to know about this?”….
He paused and said
“You know what, you’re right.”
He finally understood why I thought (and still firmly believe) that it is important that my children and all children for that matter know the truth about slavery and the truth about our history in this country.
It’s just unfortunate that I had to help him remember his own frustration with his own history for him to understand why MY history was important. He is just an example of the many people that I have had to do this with. For some reason to them… its never a big deal until it impacts them directly.
As far as the aforementioned streamer is concerned, I haven’t checked back in with her in over a year. Why? I cant….
Mixer shut down.
But one thing is certain I truly hope she grew some compassion..
Because its never just a movie…