“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”
― Margaret Atwood
I wish there was more intentionality around posting on my blog, but hey!…”It’s my party and I’ll …” write when I want to. You know why? Teachin and writin’ (like pimpin’but different) ain’t easy. I thought I’d try to be funny this time cuz I am always so serious here.
A reminder about the purpose or mission of my blog. Black Girls YouTube is designed for two things.
- To have a space to express my thoughts, feelings and critiques of what’s happening when teen and adolescent black girls YouTube (“YouTube” is a verb in the blog title). I’m thinking of girls under 18 who vlog and/or twerk, who create content and engage with others on the platform, and
- To feature other online videos or talks about the social lives of black girls, especially the girls as distinct from women over 18, or that simply speak to issues affecting their self-presentation online.
The Power of Satire in YouTube Vlogs
As I organize the overall class schedule for my latest semester of a digital ethnography course that focuses on black girls who twerk on YouTube, I ran across a great video of satire about the Ray Rice controversy. I’ve basically been too busy to jump into the fray. I was searching through Chescaleigh’s latest videos and playlists and found this gem. It’s not one of her classics. She is now a curator for Upworthy and put together a playlist of her curated content. She writes:
I’m now a content curator at upworthy.com which is a new media site dedicated to promoting content that matters. This playlist contains some of my favorite content from around the web on a variety of important topics and social issues. To see more of my posts on Upworthy visit http://www.upworthy.com/franchesca-ramsey and make sure to “like” us on Facebook for more important content! http://facebook.com/upworthy
The latest in the playlist had me in stitches and got me thinking about the power of satire. As Wikipedia states, satire when some event, person or institution’s:
…vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government or society itself, into improvement.
You could read this as a shaming of a professional football player, Ray Rice. But losing his job will serve the purpose of shame very effectively. No satire necessary. You could read it as a shaming of his girlfriend-now-wife, whose name here need not be repeated. She deserves some privacy. No satire necessary there. But the institution, the corporate-person known as the NFL. Well…let’s just saw this satire by Megan MacKay posted Sept 12th does not fumble the ball about sexual abuse of women by pro ball players.
Teaching about Black Girls in a Predominately White Setting–NYC
I hope that we might find moments of satire in our class discussions since it’s such a pivotal genre on YouTube.
I wish I knew how to make a satire of this fact: I have 18-19 students and only one black student at one of the top public university’s in New York City. The student, Chris, and I represent [CORRECTION:] 10% of people in the room in a city where black people represent. African Americans represent 19% of the population in NYC, so we’re off by almost 50% [Math is not my forté but I know people who do math!]
The New York City Metropolitan area represents the largest city and metro in America with more than 18 million residents. African Americans have a rich history in this region even before the civil war. The New York Metro Black population is the largest of any city in the United States at close to 3.5 million. This is almost 9% of the entire Black population of the United States. New York City Proper has more than 2.4 million African Americans.
It’s odd to me that we cannot improvise and experiment with other forms of privilege (or even other majorities) in the classroom. The demographic of the college where I work has students from over 120 countries represented. In an average classroom, I have students from 14 different nations. But the black student population seems to be dwindling. So why teach about black girls? Because it matters that we pay attention to the “least” among us.
Hangin on a String
The other day, at an event with a circle of sacred feminine women artists, a string player who is an African American virtuoso shared that a major black pop artist had requested 30 black female string players be hired for a major gala event. They were hired and then 28 were summarily unhired because it didn’t look “diverse” enough for an event in NYC. When was the last time you saw 30 all-black women string players at a major arts event ANYWHERE? Thank god the multicultural censors stepped in. It would have been a tragedy to allow that! We should all thank them for saving the Metropolitan arts world from black domination one gala at a time!! Big them ONE BIG BAD APPLE for diversity! I <3 NY.
Given all this satirizing, you can probably imagine that i might be concerned about my classroom. If I have only one black student in a class about the ethnography–the first-hand personal study of online behavior–among teen black girls, how do I help the millennials hear the voices of the people we are studying without dominating them with black femaleness? How do we teach non-black students to avoid the trappings of stereotypes and stigmas usually attributed to black girls’ humanity by our mass and social media. Think about the comments below YouTube videos that feature or talk about race or blackness. Can you say #trolls 3x fast?
Thankfully, I trust in the humanity of my non-black students.
WE’RE ALL GREEN!! DARK GREEN KIDS ON THE BACK OF THE BUS!!
Monday I did this post-it note exercise giving each student a pink, green and yellow post-it (which I call “stickies”). They were asked to write responses to three prompts about themselves.
Below is a transcript of their responses. They made me feel like I don’t need to worry much. We have lots of concerns we share and from there we can co-create together AND bring complexity to both what we see and what we share to a quite diverse network no matter what we learn:
Political Science/ Philosophy
Green: Interest/ Aspect Topic
What is the purpose of posting twerking videos?
Life of young black girls on youtube
Extensivity/ [or the] Reach of youtube
How black girls are affected by racism and their culture
How different races view each other
People and their actions
How young black girls choose to face discrimination against them
Online communication (perception)
Black girl struggle
Philosophy and equality
Interested in how much i can learn about black girls twerking
Sub groups online
Why certain actions are done
Negative stigmas: Origins, solutions, results
Culture vs Society
Yellow: Self Identity/ Fears of YouTube Videos:
Chinese + Vietnamese
Italian + American
Asian American + Chinese American
Albanian + Caucasian
Girls in a man’s world
Fear of peer opinion
Don’t know what to vlog about never filmed myself before
I view YouTube videos as permanent. if someone quotes you/ screen shots what you say on twitter, its nothing in comparison to YouTube
I fear that my videos won’t be worth seeing
If it doesn’t turn out as planned
Fear of sounding like i don’t know what im talking about