For those of you who have been on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook in the last week have seen selfies being tagged with #blackout. The concept was to promote black beauty and solidarity as a community. It is obviously a political statement; counteracting the idea that white beauty is the norm of beauty in our society. Tied with the political movement of ‘Black Lives Matter’, the Black Out trend aimed to spread awareness and celebrate black excellence. Black people and those who support them, reblogged, liked, favourited selfies of their black counterparts on March 6, 2015 (the very first Black Friday). This social media political movement is creating quite the controversy, bringing up issues and questions of racism, racial beauty, equality, afrocentrictism, and narcissism. Being the source of debate, some say that the Black Out is racist: only promoting black beauty and excluding others. And some argue that this movement is promoting narcissism. Others say that every race should have a day to post selfies. Some people, on the other hand, are raving about the movement.
With that being said, a new counter movement has been on the way: ‘White Out’ Tuesdays in which white people post selfies. They argue that its not fare to just promote black beauty, that there needs to be a day to promote white beauty as well. Just like the ‘All Lives Matter’ in counteraction to ‘Black Lives Matter’, some white people have feel the need to take a movement that is political and challenges dominant ideologies, and make it for themselves. No, this statement is not racist (And I do not mean to offend, but these are facts.) Black culture: our hair, our style, our music, our mannerisms have been appropriated and exploited for centuries. Black people, especially in the Americas had to fight to be considered human. We were told we were ugly, useless, and only good enough to be foot stools to the white man. Oppression comes in more than one form: it comes in physical, psychological, and ideological to name a few. So wearing our hair naturally, being proud of our beauty, and achieving greatness is a direct political statement that challenges the dominant white ideological construct that is ‘White America’.
We are so blessed that our forefathers in the 60s and 70s fought in the civil rights movement and gave us the opportunity to be where we are today. But from the events in recent months with the murders of innocent black people by police, it is clear that the war is not over. Equality and the irradiation of racism is a myth. A straight lie that we are being fed to by the ones who are in power – those of which, are neither women nor of ethnic background.
So yes, all lives do indeed matter. But right now we’re focused on black lives. Right now, we’re focused on black people. I know it may be difficult for some people to accept. And the fact that these people’s first reaction is to make a counter movement bringing the attention back to themselves is quite frankly disgusting. It’s as if they can’t stand that other ethnic groups don’t want to be like them, that they are appreciating and loving their own beauty, instead of aspiring to look like them. If I really wanted to appreciate white beauty, I would open up a magazine, I would flip through television, or I would watch a mainstream movie. White beauty is indeed the social norm. Privilege and acceptance has always been offered to Whites in America. Acknowledging that your white privilege does exist and appreciating beauty other than your own, instead of trying to appropriate it and put it down whenever you see fit – that is honorable.
As for selfie days for other races, I personally feel like this is just another thing that black people created, and now that it’s popular everyone wants to take it and make it something that it wasn’t originally intended for. If other races want to find a way to promote themselves, I’m all for it and I would readily support it. But this is ours! It was made as a political statement. It was meant to be powerful and profound. Taking it and making it an “all beauty matters” weakens the impact of the movement. It’s not about exclusivity. It’s about taking a political stance against the recent racism and in light of black history month (which is the shortest month of the year. This was an opportunity to extend our appreciation for being black outside of the month that was prescribed to us. Is it only okay for us to be openly love ourselves and our beauty in February? No, not at all). The Black Out movement to me was like a modern day civil rights protest – tying in social media and the use of the internet to create a worldwide movement, creating a sense of community and solidarity. Everything we do is politicized. This was our way of making a statement against institutionalized racism. Banning together as one community, this was our movement. To have something of ours that was meant to be powerful and meaningful, turned into another appropriated phenomenon is hurtful and wrong! I am just left with the question: why can’t they just let us have one thing to ourselves?