How to Be Post-Racial: Gizmodo.com

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    Yesterday I was found myself a bit surprised when I saw a tweet that linked to an article on the popular tech site Gizmodo titled “Why I Stalk a Sexy Black Woman on Twitter (And Why You Should, Too).” As a Negro 1 my stomach immediately sank. I hadn’t read the article yet but it’s become a good rule that when I see something with that sort of inflammatory title I can bet money that some sort of ignorance is sure to follow. I tried to keep as much of an open mind as I could when I clicked my friends customized url shortner2 . I then read Joel Johnson’s “creative” explanation as to why diversifying your Twitter stream is a good idea.

    Mr. Johnson gave an example of an experiment he conducted by following a young Black woman. She apparently was Christian, comfortable in her sexuality, and tweets to the Kardashians. After his analysis of her habits he gave us this gem.

    “I try not to extrapolate about her culture from just one person’s Twitter stream, but that’s also sort of exactly what makes following a random person so interesting. Are black Christians more open about their sexuality? Young people? Northern people? I’ve just got this single data point, but it’s more than I had before.”

    As you would guess the comment section ranged from the knee jerk “This is RACIST! Let my people go!3 ” to the equally knee-jerky opposite of “This isn’t racist at all! YOUR FACE IS RACIST!4 “ I personally didn’t have a particularly strong reaction to it. I didn’t think Johnson was racist. I didn’t think he was enlightening either. I thought. “Ah. Post-Racial America.” Joel Johnson showed himself to simply be clueless.

    Joel and his editor either didn’t understand or didn’t care how this would obviously be perceived. In America where minorities are constantly looked at as ‘other5‘ , the author and the site decided to give an example of examining an “other” to learn about how they might work. Even if this was written with the best of intentions, the idea of using this young black Christian woman as a ‘data point’ for hypotheses on a culture is incendiary and would obviously draw sharp criticism. Some argue “But he also said ‘Northern and Young People!’” to which I would point out that the article wasn’t named “Why I stalk a Young Northern Woman on Twitter.” It was an examination involving understanding race. Otherwise there would’ve been no need to mention it.

    The comments section was an interesting snapshot of race in America. One gentleman said:

    “I work at a very ‘urban’ college, and I’m a white dude. I find that my everyday interaction with my ‘city kids’ has made me see them completely different than a lot of my suburban friends do. I don’t use the word “them” to describe them as some mythical group that cannot be understood, whereas my suburban friends who don’t have a lot of interaction with young black and Hispanic people tend to think of them as what they see on the news, a group of angry, nasty people who will mug you if you’re within 10 miles of “the city” after sunset.

    By following some folks who are from that culture on Twitter, and actually trying to understand what makes someone different from yourself tick, maybe, just maybe, someone will better understand that person, and be able to get over the whole “OMG…A BLACK guy!” reaction to someone standing on a street.” – DefineStatutory

    This seemingly open-minded comment shows yet more of an issue in thought. Why does one need to follow a city kid to not think that they aren’t angry nasty people who will mug you? I don’t know any Native Americans6 but I don’t need to follow one on Twitter to understand they won’t scalp me. Having a diverse group of people with whom you surround yourself is a great way of understanding other cultures, but once you leave the realm of “interacting” and enter the “observe and report” area a seemingly innocent thought becomes slightly insulting and rightfully questioned.

    In a country that’s supposedly so passed race, it’s quite amusing to watch folks completely trip over it.

    ___________________________________________________________________
    1 Yes, I refer to myself as Negro.
    2 Onion Web Editor Baratunde Thurston uses “http://baratun.de” as a url shortner. I, in order to at least match his geek immediately went out and got “http://elonjam.es.” We nerd out hard.
    3 If you were very quiet while reading these comments you could hear, very lightly ‘Wade in the Water.’ Technology is amazing.
    4 I meant more the proverbial “Your Face.” It was more often overly verbose explanations as to why if you found issue with the article you were somehow lacking in intelligence, understanding or tolerance.
    5 Not to be confused with “The Others” on the TV show Lost. And yes, I hated the ending. I felt like they Battlestar Gallactica’ed me.
    6 Well I might but they haven’t came out of the closet yet.

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