So, it’s that time of the year when everyone wants to acknowledge Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. Unfortunately, that comes with the whitewashing of who this man truly was. I recently saw some conservative group of people put up a flyer promoting an event that will acknowledge Dr. Martin Luther King and his work. The primary issue with the flyer was that some of their keynote speakers were conservative Black people (anti-Black). Personally, I’m tired of our history, our culture, our heroes, and our grassroots organizations consistently being hijacked by the mainstream or by conservative groups who make a mockery of it. At what point do we stop including everyone in everything when it comes to us? We have seen the consequences of that for the past fifty-plus years.
Last year to my surprise, Juneteenth became a state holiday in many states. Even the federal government passed Juneteenth as a national holiday. The mixed emotions many Black people had about this decision were justified IMO. It was a little exciting to see how many Black people weren’t too excited about the federal and state government making Juneteenth a state and national holiday. Why? Because Black people realized that more non-Black people would have a paid day off for Juneteenth than Black Americans. The holiday is supposed to be primarily for American Descendants of Slavery. How disrespectful is that??? Additionally, Black Americans are aware that anytime something “Black” becomes mainstream or is accepted by the masses, there is a great chance something will be rewritten (whitewashed). That poses the question…As Black people in America, how do we find a balance to acknowledging our history, culture, people, celebrations, and music without it being hijacked and turned into economic opportunities for everyone but us?
This leads me to a significant issue I have with us. We allow the mainstream media and the masses to continuously hijack our narrative because we often beg and wait for them to tell our story and bring solutions to our problems. In 2020, a young White woman from Long Island went missing shortly after a domestic dispute with her boyfriend in Utah. This incident received a lot of media attention across the country. At the same time, since she was last seen in an area of the country with a large indigenous population, many indigenous women began to demand the mass media speak about the high number of missing indigenous women since they never get any media attention. Around the same time, I started to see Black women on social media also say the high number of Black women that go missing in America is rarely reported by the mass media, which is also correct and disturbing. However, in this day and age, with the amount of access Black people have to social media outlets, there’s no reason why we should solely rely on the mass media to tell our story or spotlight certain issues in our community we would like resolved.
When will Black people realize that the mass media does not care about missing Black women? The same media outlets that demonize Black people are the same media outlets you are asking for them to present more stories about missing Black women??? They’re not going to help us, and they have no obligation to do so. It is not their responsibility to care about our community. History has shown us they never have, so more than likely, they never will.
It is time for us to start taking control of the numerous social media outlets available and utilize them to tell our stories. I’m sure many of us can name countless Black people who have started their careers from social media outlets within the past ten years. They used YouTube, Tik Tok, Instagram, and other social media platforms to introduce their story or talents to the world. Some of these people eventually signed bigger deals with more prominent media outlets. Still, they didn’t continuously wait around for someone from a large media outlet to sign them and get mad about it in the meantime. These people dedicated their time and energy for years to build. All these Black people utilized whatever social media platform was best to get their message out to the world. It’s time for more of us to do the same for issues that plague our community. I love to see the creativity Black people put into making Tik Tok videos, stories for Instagram, and movies for YouTube, but when we will use that same energy to build and promote love and unity within our community?
For those of you who don’t know me well, I would like to share that one of my favorite hobbies is acting. A few years ago, a few of my friends and I discussed how we were tired of plays, shows, and movies about Black people that weren’t written by us and that didn’t accurately portray the lives we live. Even films based on the real-life of Black Americans are not entirely accurate (i.e., Hidden Figures). We would learn later that many movies and shows/documentaries that were about Black historical events or figures had to be carefully written because the focus was more on making sure non-Black people weren’t going to be uncomfortable watching the film, and White people weren’t looked at too negatively regardless of what really happened. Our pain had to be silenced so others wouldn’t be uncomfortable.
So, my friends and I decided to get together, start our own theatrical production company, invest, produce, direct and write our own material. We decided we would control our own narrative regardless of who may feel uncomfortable watching our play. We could have quickly gone to Twitter and be like, “@so and so…hey this movie you wrote… .that’s not how it really happened!” We could’ve led a protest against the writers and producers in Hollywood. We could’ve boycotted certain movies. We can protest, boycott, and complain all we want, or we could take control of our narrative. We must realize that we have more power than we think, and we need to take advantage of what’s out there to advance ourselves by any means necessary.
My friends and I were sick and tired of how the entertainment world portrayed Black people. Do you know why I did it? Because I’m not a person that’s going to keep sitting here and waiting for people that love to demonize us and love making money off us, to write something that I want to see. I’M TAKING CONTROL OF OUR NARRATIVE! I KNOW TOO MUCH TO DO OTHERWISE!! Black people, you got to take control of your narrative by any means necessary!! STOP asking, STOP begging, STOP waiting, and STOP paying to see other people tell your story and ignore your pain. You take control!!
I’m going to close out by saying enough is enough. It’s 2021. There are numerous social media outlets in this world we can utilize to promote our narratives and/or solutions to our ongoing issues. My biggest issue with most Black people is we don’t want to do the work. Unfortunately, many of us are waiting on somebody with a cape to come save the day. We keep praying, hoping, and believing that somebody will pass some type of “freedom” bill for us one day. Or that if we keep educating enough white people about racism, it will disappear, and we will be treated like human beings. That day is not coming and if it is coming, it ain’t coming in our lifetime. We have to stop living our lives in fear because many of us still get the short end of the stick regardless of how hard we work. We continue to think if we keep our head down, remain quiet and go about things the “right way,” everything will eventually work itself out. How has that been working out for us?
The crazy part about all of this is that we are naturally creative (see Twitter, IG, Only Fans, and Tik Tok stories). Take some of that same energy you’re using to entertain to get useless clout and attention, to control our narrative instead so we can build. Nobody, and when I say nobody…..I mean nobody, will come to save us but us!!
No social justice without economic justice
January 19, 2022
2 thoughts on “Nobody is Going to Save You: Save Yourself”
Jonathan – Incisive and truth telling as always! Please do keep on making plays and encouraging the Black community to tell their stories. The more I learn about just how whitewashed American history and movies are, I long to cut through the crap and hear and see reality. There are some “White” people (e.g. me) who want to know the truth and value those courageous enough to tell it. I also know that my value on truth and seeking the end of suffering for all is at constant risk of coming up against the ingrained wish for comfort, the numbing effects of having privilege, and the white supremacy programming we are fed from day one. May we walk our parallel journeys up the same hill!
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Thanks, Lauren for those sincere words of encouragement and for taking the time to read my blog piece.