I am furious this week. Angered, unsurprised, and yet still caught off guard. I am angry because recent moments in the media reveal the extent to which it remains a monstrous perpetrator of violence against Black humanity.
I reference two moments in particular, 1) This alleged celebrity boxing fight involving George Zimmerman rapper DMX and 2) Piers Morgan’s inability to understand his straight white cisgender male privilege in a maddening “interview” (read: interrogation) with Janet Mock, who is a Black trans woman, a writer, an activist, and who joins a legacy of women of color, both trans and cis, who must continually bear the burden of making sure this nation lives up to its ideals of equality and freedom.
Clearly, the nuance in each situation is vast and unyielding and deserves due attention, but at the core of both of these events bubbles a racist media that allows white men to have a platform to catalyze the flattening of Blackness through their complicity in racism, sexism, and queer antagonism. Trumpeting that oh-so-familiar tale of white male victimhood, the media allows these men to remain the center of attention at the expense and erasure of Black life, of Black children, of Black women. In response, we are forced to watch as our humanity is rendered invisible on the level of the natural and on the level of the spiritual. We have to viscerally react as the people who we love, our warriors, and our healers, are literally erased in the public sphere. Watching the interview with Janet Mock, I had to wonder exactly who Piers Morgan thought he was talking to? For the answers he was being given seemed to bounce off his privilege and into a void. Instead, he would merely keep repeating his anxieties about his own feelings of “vilification,” as if Janet was unclear. Yet if you know how privilege and oppression works, you know how the privileged always seem to be confused while the oppressed always know what’s going on.
And a celebrity boxing fight? Clearly Zimmerman is also in a white supremacist world of his own.
Until the media changes, until we can hold it accountable for who it gives voice to, we will never truly feel the progress of this country. The media is the arbiter of culture in this country, and to make this nation feel more just for all of us, the shifts cannot be just on the books, but in our hearts and minds. Unfortunately, the media gives us insight into the heart of our country. And as long as the country beats to the rhythm of those in power, we will never have the true systemic change that we wish to have. Today, I find myself painfully reminded of this truth.
I send all my love to Trayvon’s family, his memory, Janet Mock (grab her memoir Redefining Realness!), and to all of us who have to cringe every time we turn on a television or a computer. Truly, it is a mundane violence that we endure everyday. And we cannot continue to condone it.