This is the third article in the series 'A Black Stripe in a Rainbow Flag' by Travis Miller.
Seeing so many of my friends online going to anti-racism protests, despite it being the beginning of a global pandemic, and seeing so many people educating themselves and spreading awareness, I thought it would be nice to take some time and thank a few people for taking part in this fight against human injustice. (Even though I shouldn’t have to be grateful for common human decency).
I was looking through Instagram and came across someone that I had been following for a while (Back to Tumblr days) and had built up some respect for this person, as they managed to secure a modelling contract and was doing really well for themselves. I guess you could say I was a fan. We chatted briefly, as I expressed my gratitude and they were polite and gracious enough to not want any, however I was still grateful and proud that someone I admired was on my side.
A couple of days later while scrolling on Twitter, a “burner account” had posted a picture from said persons profile from 2015, reading “When your mum goes from 0-nigga really quick” (Among other tweets using racists comments towards Asian culture).
I saw red.
I went straight to the DM’s and poured out my frustration, anger and betrayal. I was humiliated, just a few days ago I was congratulating them for being an “ally”. They quickly explained that “They are in no way a racist and never have been”, they were “Genuinely stupid and ignorant”, and didn’t know what the word meant because they were “Never taught those things in school” as they “Grew up in a mostly white area where those words were never brought up”, and only said it because they “Heard it in a Drake song”.
I personally can’t seem to fathom the understanding that in 2015, when this person would have been 17, they didn’t know what the word “Nigger” meant.
When you look at the original quote “0-100”, 0 meaning chill and 100 being extra, what emotional connection does Nigger have? Is it angry, abusive? The general tarnished black stereotype. So, it begs the question, why? Why use this word to describe your white mother. They claimed to know it was a “Swear word”, but not the actual understanding and the history it carries. This leads me to believe that there is some kind of “woke” behaviour towards being racist online. To look edgy.
They then went on to tell me that since then, they have educated themselves and they are no longer that person they were back then, and that if they realised that this tweet had resurfaced, they would have deleted it straight away, because that’s “Not what they stand for”. I left them on read and felt numb.
I was conflicted. I understand we can’t cancel someone for not having the knowledge others possess, but 2015? This was only 6 years ago, when I’m pretty sure he would have known what being called a “Faggot” meant.
Racism isn’t new, these words aren’t new. They are used in the media, in songs, in films, in books, most of which you probably know. So how can you sit and say “I didn’t know”?
From this, it was common to see a plethora of ‘apology tweets’, from various white gays, ranging from everyday twitter gays, to famous porn stars. Normally written out in the notes app to seem official, or just due to the fact that twitter only allows 140 characters worth of “Sorries”. Sometimes if they had more to say, we’d get an apology video, this normally means they’re giving a backhanded apology, and aren’t actually taking accountability for their actions. Sometimes they straight up refuse to “Be sorry” because they’ve had “bad experiences” with a POC.
So, I sit after reading my 7th apology of the day, and wonder, why is it ok to then be praised for coming out as an ex-racist? Surely that’s for POC to decide, considering they’re the ones on the receiving end.
White gays love to be in Black people’s business.
Telling us what to do and how to feel.
The answer is, fans. Having a high following helps brush it under the carpet. But when any POC tries to raise their feelings, all of a sudden their feelings aren’t valid.
If you rape a person, the damage is done.
If you murder a person, the damage is done.
So why is it ok to be allowed to change and be welcomed back into the community with open arms?
It is important to note that I am not saying that racism and rape/murder are one of the same, but mainly focusing on the aftermath these scenarios have on ones mental and physical state.
For any white readers, this may be a chance for you to reflect on this. Much like the saying “sticks and stones make break my bones but names will never hurt me”. Words can hurt and have just as much as a lasting effect as physical ones.
Something that I found quite amusing about these apologies is that they all sound the same, as if they are all copy and pasted from the same tweet and customised to fit the scenario. The scariest thing is how many of them there were. How many racists hide behind the sexuality veil?
I understand that not everyone is raised the same, and maybe I’m too naive to think as a community we all love each other, but it felt as if it was more of a performative way to ensure they don’t lose followers, rather than actually being sorry.
In my opinion, most of these (not all because actions speak louder than words) aren’t sorry they did it, they’re sorry they got caught.
What is it about the word white people just love to say?
A common occurrence you’ll find in amongst the comments in these apology videos/ Tweets are the ‘pick me gays. A group of gays/fans that can’t bear to believe their favourite porn star, that’s never going to fuck them, can actually do any wrong, most of the time ignoring the evidence that’s right in front of them. Being blindsided by beards and muscles and rush to their defence, telling POC to “Get over it”.
But what exactly do you want me to “Get over”?
The fact that in 2020 multiple POC were lynched, beaten, imprisoned, burned and raped like the Jim Crow era, because most of the American/ British population can’t handle the fact that we should have racial equality, and that the colour of my skin doesn’t mean I am less of a human being. Should you get over the fact that in some countries it is still punishable by death to be queer? To me, it’s all the same. If you’re uncomfortable with one, you need to be uncomfortable with ALL. Black trans women fought for the rights you have today, and you want to tell me to “Get over it”? You may think saying one word won’t affect anything and saying Nigger in a song isn’t a problem, but it is.
The point of this series is not to shame anyone, call anyone out or divide, but hopefully give the reader a little insight into the world of a QPOC. I know as humans it’s hard out there and we all have our own personal problems going on, but if you do one thing today, take the time to understand this. This may not be the most factual article you’ve ever read, but I hope to reach someone, whether that’s a QPOC that can relate, or another reader just looking to educate themselves more as to what it’s like from someone else’s point of view.
To my QPOC and POC, continue to do you. Love yourself daily, you are beautiful.
Without you, there is no community.