The Worst Part Of Buzzfeed’s Shockingly Self-Loathing “27 Questions Black People Have For Black People”
It’s been a little over 12 hours since I first saw Buzzfeed’s “27 Questions Black People Have For Black People.” It was shared on the timelines of quite a few of my friends yesterday afternoon, but I didn’t get a chance to actually watch it until last night. And still, 12 hours later, I’m shocked by how bad it is.
Part of this shock is due to the fact that, before this video, the race-related content I’ve seen from Buzzfeed hasn’t been this bad. It’s actually been quite good. Granted, Buzzfeed is a behemoth, and it wouldn’t be a leap to presume they’ve published problematic content I just haven’t seen or heard about. Also, I’m speaking specifically about Black stuff. I can’t comment on the quality of their Latino or Asian or Native American related content because I haven’t seen any of it. And I’m not as well-versed in those cultures to be able to immediately identify something as tone deaf. But again, the Black-related content I’ve seen from them has generally worked. The listicles and first-person pieces are typically nuanced and funny, the reportage is thoughtful and delicate, their HBCU series last year was outstanding, and although I’m not into podcasts, I know Another Round does amazing work.
But mostly, I’m shocked by the level of GFA (Gotdamn Fucking Awful) this was. It was so abjectly GFA that I watched a second time to verify how GFA it happened to be, and a third time just to make sure there wasn’t any satire I missed. Like maybe this was one of those meta jokes within a jokes about the type of Black people who think and say shit like this. But it wasn’t that. It was a video curation of every space on the self-loathing Black person bingo card.
Wait, did you call out “Why don’t Black people care about Black-on-Black crime?”
And “Why don’t Black people support each other?”
And “Why is natural hair seen as a bad thing?”
And “Why is doing well in school frowned upon by other Black people?”
And “Why do we get mad when White people say nigga?”
And “Why don’t Black kids have dads?”
It’s like they rounded up the best and brightest of the snowflake millennial Blacks — the ones who believe they’re shunned by other Black people for “talking White” and that they’re the only Black people on Earth who happen to like anime and Sara Bareilles — filled them with peanuts and Ciroc, turned the camera on, and said “Go!” It should have been titled “27 Questions Black People Who Don’t Like Black People Have For Black People.” Or “27 Questions White People Believe “Smart” Black People Should Ask Other Black People.”
(Also, you know sometimes you’ll read a summary that seems so thorough you don’t need to watch the video it summarized? Well, this isn’t one of those times. If you haven’t yet, you need to watch this video to fully appreciate how Gotdamn Fucking Awful it was.)
And that this was created by and published on Buzzfeed shifts its existence and possible impact from merely problematic to actually dangerous. It’s already been seen by over a million people and will likely be seen by millions more. And forget about any hand-wringing about the White people who’ve seen this, because I don’t give a fuck about them. (To clarify, I do give a fuck about White people, as humans and shit. Hi White people reading this!!! I just don’t give any about their feelings about this video.)
But how many of those millions are young Blacks who already believe these logical and emotional fallacies about Black culture and will use this as proof their beliefs are right? And yes, it is dangerous for a Black person in 2016 — as it was in 1916 and will be in 2116 — to possess that thought; to convince themselves that Black culture is somehow specifically malignant. Because that belief doesn’t just stop there. It permeates their general beliefs about Black people and eventually metastasizes into a subconscious and pervasive self-loathing. If you believe Blackness possesses an inherent pathology, this belief is either an extension of your feelings on the Blackness you currently possess or will eventually extend to it.
Also, it actually makes me sad that there are so many seemingly smart and witty and successful Black people so firmly ensconced in anti-Blackness. People either hurt so badly they’ve internalized everything negative they’ve seen about Black people or in possession of such a jaundiced view of Black culture that they feel the need to distance themselves from it. (Or both.) I already knew they existed, but I don’t know. Watching this was like peeking into a hot dog factory. You already know they use all types of pig toenails and pigeon beaks to make them, but actually seeing it happen with your own eyes turns your stomach. It’s fucking depressing, man.