When it comes to positive black images we need to examine what’s important.
Like I established in the previous two posts about this topic. We need positive black images to counter the negative that has circulated and to give a balanced picture of what our world really looks like. Where truth has been omitted or conveniently passed over, we are in need of an extra helping of what should have been available all along.
Although we need to see ourselves reflected in a positive light in society, there are a couple of problems that I’ve noticed with this. The pressure on black people to prove that they deserve to be in some spheres of society or even the burden of responsibility to counter negative stereotypes. Every race and culture of people have those of good and bad character, but the effect of the deliberate and calculated negative targeting of black people during slavery and the time after- produced and designed to keep black people fearful of their lives and subordinate- has taken its toll. It created a conscious and unconscious belief that black people were criminals, vagrants etc. You might think I’m being extreme but I’ve had conversations with people who think this way even within the last 6 years. We see the remnants of this type of mentality when non-blacks are fearful of peaceful protests and assume that all black people are interested in rioting and wrecking havoc.
No individual should have the responsibility to prove or feel burdened that the actions of another within their race will reflect negatively on them.
So in one way yes we do need these positive images but in another way the need for these images almost makes it look like it’s not normal to see extraordinary contributions from people of colour to society. It’s like- here is the proof of all we can do!- but the fact that we need the proof is sad. If it hadn’t been omitted it would be our normal. Last week I mentioned the contributions to hockey but there are examples of this type of achievement in every sphere that is still unknown to the mainstream.
I’ve also noticed at times that some of the popular positive images that get circulated online are often pictures of black youth or males doing nice things for older white people. Things like helping them cross the street, or carrying groceries. I haven’t often seen the opposite, pictures of white youth doing things for older black people and it makes me wonder. Why are these types of positive images created and readily shared? If we want to show how far our society has come in the area of unity shouldn’t we have pictures of both? When I see some of these photos it feels very calculated. –Look at this young black male who looks like he might be a threat…but wait, here is picking a flower, and creating art, and taking care of white children, or visiting an elderly white person. The idea of it isn’t wrong because yes this is reality and some of it challenges judging people based on the colour of their skin and what they wear. The part that doesn’t sit well with me is that these images are predominantly of black people in roles of servitude or with white people. Is the image of a young black male helping an older white person more acceptable than helping an older black person? What about a black mother taking care of white children as her own? I asked a few people what they thought. Was I reading too much into these types of images? Why were images of servitude the ones people really liked and circulated? Do these images promote unity and equality? What do you think? Have you noticed these types of pictures? Feel free to share your thoughts and post some positive images and pictures of unity between the races.