Questions for white people
BuzzFeed, the Internet media company responsible for all of your favorite oddball quizzes, released a video last month, — “24 Questions Black People Have for White People” — and while it was light and meant to spark a few laughs, the video actually touches on deeper subjects, and it sheds light on what modern day racism really entails.
The video was divided into four parts — Media and Culture, Talking About Race, Curiosity, and Black Lives Matter — and consists of a small group of black men and women asking the camera several different questions regarding the racist things that white people say and do on a daily basis.
During the “Media and Culture” segment, the stars of the video ask a range of different questions, including, “Why is it that white people always act as though they have discovered a new trend when people of color have been doing it for virtually years?”
This question, no doubt one of the most important ones asked, brings up the silent evil that is cultural appropriation. During the MTV Video Music Awards this past month, Miley Cyrus donned blonde dreadlocks with every one of her outfit changes, causing some websites such as sugarscape.com to claim that the singer was “rocking” the offensive look. Rewind to this year’s Academy Awards in February, and you will find singer/actress Zendaya, who is biracial, wearing her hair in dreads as well. However, television personality Giuliana Rancic said on E!’s “Fashion Police” that the hairstyle made Zendaya look like she “smells like patchouli oil or weed.”
This is a classic example of the social phenomenon that is cultural appropriation. A white woman is praised for essentially stealing a fashion trend that has been historically black, while the black woman becomes the victim of racial slurs.
“This is the hair that I was born with, so you wearing it is not cute” — another questioned aimed to expose the ongoing trend.
Next, during the “Talking About Race” portion of the video, the inquiry, “You don’t really believe that racism is over because we have a black president, do you?” brings up the overall ignorance that is spread among Americans. Saying things like that, and “Oh, slavery and segregation happened a long time ago,” is a lazy way of ignoring the fact that racism is alive and well today. While having a black president the last two terms is a great step toward equality, events such as Ferguson and Sandra Bland’s death prove that we as a society still have a long way to go.
In “Curiosity,” the stars of the video discuss the use of the “N” word and why it’s wrong for others to say it. “If I don’t use it, what makes you think that you can?” brings up the controversial usage of the historically offensive term. In a recent episode of ABC’s hit show “Black-ish,” the word was also discussed with the father explaining that it’s not OK for white people to say it because his generation fought to take the word back after the end of segregation. While “Black-ish” was more head-on with approaching the topic, BuzzFeed’s video did so quietly and without fuss.
In the last segment, “Black Lives Matter,” the stars tackle the recent killing of Cecil the Lion and backlash that the animal’s supporters received from the black community. “Why do you feel like all lions’ lives matter, but black lives don’t?” touches on the borderline strange reactions people had to the wild animal’s death, including Jimmy Kimmel tearing up while talking about the event on his show.
Why is it that when an animal is killed, our country goes into an uproar, but when the black community protests the killing of presumably innocent black people, they themselves are compared to animals in the press? Singer Taylor Swift’s music video for “Wildest Dreams” is set in Africa, and contains no black people whatsoever. Swift’s proceeds from the video will be donated to animal conservation efforts in Africa. Well, it’s not like there are human beings in Africa who might need help with anything, right? The video has also been accused in the press of romanticizing white colonialism. Oh, Taylor.
While BuzzFeed is usually responsible for quick recipes and easy DIY crafts, this video is slowing proving that the media outlet is getting serious about current issues, including one of the most important ones: racism.