This is not a joke.
This isn’t an article meant to stir the curiosity of ill-informed readers of Medium or the greater Wide Web about the misrepresentative and offensive imagery of Black men and women in media that has gone turbulent particularly in the past 18 months.
This is an open letter to the leaders of the world who thought their empires would never fall and they be the ones crushed underneath it.
When I turn on the television, I become a fixture of the American imagination and fetishes of mainstream popular culture.
Suddenly, Black people do not look, sound, or speak like me.
Black women are either portrayed as Sapphires, Jezebels and Mammies, and Black men no longer reflect the hardworking and healthy-spirited image I associate with my father, uncles and mentors. I become confused when “Black” radio stations like Hot 97 and Power 105.1 do not play music that liberates or reflects my experiences as a Black person, individual, or woman; and websites like WorldStarHipHop and MediaTakeOut make me embarrassed to surf on the Internet with my white friends in fear of being associated with “ratchedness”.
And on top of all this, these images become commodified, cut out of their original contexts, and repackaged as “youth culture” and “counter-cultural values” for Americans to exploit for recreation, spectatorship and most importantly, profit.
I am tired of the Media Empires of the World glorifying the American ghettos, American suffering of people of color, women and the undercaste, and American violence. Forums like Rap Genius and Complex Magazine need to realize the weight of their actions and choices when circulating content that enables the public to recast these oppressive forms of entertainment back into their communities. For every Pusha T, there are tens of millions of Black men and boys now thrown into a caste of people who will no longer experience the privileges of American citizenship due to repressive drug laws that govern the criminal justice system. For every Rihanna, there are countless Black women and girls entrapped by patriachal systems of female oppressions such as forced motherhood, pornography and prostitution that they do not have luxury of exploiting to receive a Grammy or Oscar.These are few of the many things that media transforms into entertainment to be consumed by masses of people in an unconscious manner that removes the human element of Black and Brown suffering necessary to reap profit without criticism. People make a living from communities destitute to live these wanton realities. Unlike presidents of record labels and music publishing companies, these people are not allocated royalties when their oppressive cultures are used on and off the set of music videos and concerts. Their suffering simply becomes the soundtrack to the insatiable attitudes of Wall Street mongruls, the deep-pocketed and empty suits.
W.E.B. DuBois once said, “The slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery.” In this Brave New World that we are subject to live within, our lives are shackled to self-indulgence and values measured by the girth of our wallets. Bombarded with imagery of profit as freedom and freedom as power, we often fail to question the transitive discourse used to distract people from consciousness and productive living.
Rappers wear diamond nooses and polished chains. Athletes sport blood soaked cotton made by people they will never meet or come to know as having any strand of humanity, their names branded into their backs instead on the raised surface of their flesh. Our minds rely on a cache of information to decifer what is real and what is not. The people’s epistomology on truth is incredibly flawed in that their thoughts are even chained. I believe it is not necessarily the system’s savvy nature of disguising its oppression that we remain unaware, but more of how it has conditioned our beliefs and thinking into absolute suppression to recognize it as so.
While all forms of oppression is deliberate and conscious, the oppressed are trained and conditioned to not view them as an assault on their personhood, but an avenue toward “empowerment.” In a system that is already designed to suppress opposing forces of capital gain, the people are to only able to opt for abject humanity.
When we accept and acknowledge the power of an imperialist language colonized with degrading and repressive thought as the only way to express our humanity, beliefs, philosophies and recourse to action of reason and rationale — we also accept our subjected condition as secondary, non-citizens — our undercasted positioning in proximity to real power. We accept our powerlessness, our inability to oppose what should never be tolerated. We begin to even condition our ownpeers into submission and disempowerment with ideas that disarm the masses for revolution. We simply maintain our condition in fear of further abjection.
This is not necessarily just a Black issue, or a people of color issue, or a woman of color issue. This is a human issue. If you are currently not reaping the benefits of cheap and exploited labor, you are most likely part of this oppressed caste of people. The system will window-dress its repressive acts as to only target those with Black and Brown skin in order to dissolve united and collective factions that stand strong on the front against all forms of disenfranchisement.
As mentioned before, all forms of oppression act the same, although, most serve the purpose to distract, distort and disempower the masses for revolution. It is necessary to address how the media and bastardized art forms have taught young people that the ways to liberate yourself is to sell yourself short. To understand that your [Black or Brown] body is only as valuable as your performance in these narrow and degrading roles this system places you in for pleasure and enjoyment by others. Our tongues are soaked and suffocated with language that only allows us to express our wants and aspirations that index gain, exploitation and the violence needed to get it. We must unlearn our repressive language and arm ourselves with liberating and counter-hegemonic thought and discourse.
We cannot and will not accept our positions of inferiority as our only choice of recourse of survival in this system of oppression and exploitation. In this age of stale consciousness, we must fight back against a system unfit to raise another generation to prepare ourselves for true liberation.
This campaign starts now.
MY BLACKNESS IS NOT FOR SALE. MY SEXUALITY IS NOT FOR SALE. MY BODY IS NOT FOR SALE. MY CULTURE IS NOT FOR SALE. MY LANGUAGE IS NOT FOR SALE. MY THOUGHTS ARE NOT FOR SALE. MY HUMANITY IS NOT FOR SALE.
What is most invaluable to you?