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Dear White Folks Who Are Mad About Beyoncé

Twitter is my happy place. That’s not something you hear much but my Twitter feed is purposely kept small and curated. It is great collection of book people, authors, and people with liberal viewpoints. Sometimes one person is all three. It is multiracial and multicultural and runs the gamut of most other “multi”s that you can think of. I read my Twitter feed and feel like the world is one big happy place where everyone agrees that the world should and could be better. Just before everyone holds hands for a heartfelt version of Kumbaya

…I flip over to my Facebook feed.

 

Oh dear god. I get smacked in the face with the real world again. Here’s how that played out this weekend.

Saturday – I see on Twitter that Beyoncé has a new song. My feed is ecstatic. I’m not immediately interested because I’m not a big music fan but the joy overwhelms me. I watch the video. I get confused because I can’t understand the words. I’m over 40. I haven’t understood the words to a new song in 20 years. So, I go to this very obscure website called GOOGLE and ask. I get an answer. I even get some commentary. I go about my day happy that other people I like are happy.

Sunday – I watch the Super Bowl because Peyton and I were at university together. (He doesn’t actually know that but we were.) I watch halftime. I’m impressed by the marketing mind that had the song released the day before performing it on the biggest stage around. I wish I could dance like that. I wish I had dancers’ legs. I wonder who thought Coldplay was a good idea. Later I laugh appreciatively as I read through the happiness overwhelming my Twitter account. I go to bed and all is good in the world.

Monday – I get up and the first thing on my Facebook is a post wondering why Beyoncé looked so mad. Can’t she make happy music anymore? (Did she ever?) When someone mentions that the post writer isn’t the target demographic for the song, the response is that this person didn’t listen to the lyrics at all. By nighttime when I look again my feed is overwhelmingly angry about it.

To the People on my Facebook Feed

 

Seriously, ya’ll are making me embarrassed to be white right now. Stop talking.

  • If at any point you are going to type “I didn’t understand the words” and that isn’t immediately followed by “until I googled them”, stop typing. You aren’t even trying. If you work “but I heard that they were about..” into the discussion you are having your internet privileges taken away for a time out.
  • I’m not even going to try to explain the difference between the message of the song and the message of the video because life is too short and you aren’t listening anyway.

Let me try to explain how this got through my head.  I intellectually understood what people were saying but that didn’t mean that I really got it.

I am a middle aged white woman. When I imagine interacting with police I imagine either being annoyed because I got pulled over in a speed trap or grateful because they are helping me. I don’t imagine them viewing me as a potential suspect. I know I’m not a lawbreaker and I implicitly assume that they will see me as non threatening. Other people do not have that luxury.

This hit home to me when I once heard a father explaining to his white child how to interact with the police. His very first point was, “The police are not your friends.” I was taken aback. In white world that is something unthinkable to tell your children. The message is generally “If you need help, find a policeman.” A moment’s thought made me realize that he was correct though.

This was a nonneurotypical child with violent tendencies. The odds are very good that if he is in a situation involving the police, it is going to be because someone has called them on him.  The message for this child has to be, “Be respectful, do what they say, and shut up.” In other words, do what every other minority has to do to try to stay safe in a world where you aren’t automatically assumed to be harmless.

White folks – can you imagine teaching that to your children? Can you imagine having to? If you can’t then shut up, sit down, and listen for once.

4 Comments

  • victoriansoul

    I saw someone on Twitter who said “Beyonce looks like a blimp” during the superbowl. I immediately unfollowed (and blocked). Beyonce has more talent pinky finger than that person will ever have.
    There is good news about the police here- there’s a lot of diverse officers, which we need due to the myriad of culture in this little college town. My mom, a special ed teacher, has to use a police officer/resource officer as a translator with some of the Latino parents- she isn’t the best at language arts, English or Spanish. That’s not to say minorities aren’t discriminated against here, like everywhere else, but more that the police make an effort to be a part of the community- effort that was never made where I used to live.
    Personally, I think Beyonce made the Superbowl worthy of being watched. Otherwise, it was just a bunch of men out getting brain damage, in my opinion. I’m glad my jock brothers never went on to be football players- it’s too much of a gladiator sport, the more I think about it.
    ~Litha Nelle

  • Felicia S (The Geeky Blogger)

    My FB feed oddly was just full of love for Bey. While I am not a fan of hers, I do think that video is a thing of beauty. I think these days of immediate response times make people less aware of people around them instead of making them more aware. It makes me sad overall!

  • looloolooweez

    Oh, Facebook… prompter of more head-desking than any other website ever, I’m sure.

    I wish people would more often think carefully about why they’re reacting a certain way to some music video or performance instead of immediately ragefrothing on social media about it.

    Your point that most white children and most black children grow up with very different views of the police is a good one. Even as the daughter of a police officer I can easily see why a lot of disadvantaged folks — unfortunately disproportionately African American or Latino — feel like they have to fear officers. One blatantly racist officer with a gun is scary enough, and it’s worse when you add something more difficult to define/handle like unintended, institutional racism on top of that.

    Worse, any criticism of the way the police in general handle these issues or of the actions of one office in particular is too often seen as an outright attack on law enforcement. So rather than engaging in a discussion about what has gone wrong and how things might get better in the future, we end up covered in a mud made of derogatory comments and hurt feelings.

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