Wow. Looking back at the Grammy’s this year is wild, and for different reasons than last year. Last year, I did makeup (or hair and makeup) for two beautiful musicians (take a peek here). This year, Kobe Bryant’s tragic passing in a helicopter accident rocked the world. Emotions still running high, I watched the show with lots of tears. I’ve since written two blogs about Kobe’s passing – one about what we can learn from his legacy, and the other about how racism may be impacting it, in case you’re curious. I don’t know if it was the heightened feelings from those events, but I was profoundly impacted by a commercial, and it caused me to do quite a bit of reflection. Here’s what Google’s new Black History Month commercial taught me about my own racism.
Previously, if you had ever told me I was racist in any degree, I would deny it in a heartbeat. I could share all of the requisite proof to the contrary regarding friends or people I’ve dated outside my race, but I think we all know how tired and embarrassing that is at this point, so I’ll skip it.
Whether it’s my attendance at a very progressive university (University of Wisconsin-Madison), living in liberal California, or taking the time to read countless articles about race and intersectional feminism, I am learning to recognize my biases, so I can begin to correct them. It hasn’t been easy, but the growth has felt absolutely wonderful.
It wasn’t until I watched a commercial, or rather a recap of reactions to it that stopped me in my tracks that I realized that I have more work to do than I had initially thought. Wanna see the commercial? Here you go:
And of course, here is the recap post:
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#TSRReactionz: #BlackTwitter is turning up after #Google released its #BlackHistoryMonth commercial during the #Grammys2020 last night! ______________________________________ The commercial embodies the excellence and power of Google as a search engine, showcasing the most Google’d people in every category known to man.. and you guessed it, they’re all BLACK! Here’s a snippet of the commercial, but you can see the entire thing linked on our website! 👏🏾👏🏾 #BlackExcellence (SWIPE)
It is the last clip, where Issa Rae says “I’m cheering for everyone who’s Black” that really sparked this reflection of how Google’s new Black History Month commercial taught me about my own racism.
I remember when I’d heard she said that, and feeling slighted by it… Feeling like it wasn’t in the spirit of inclusivity and anti-racism that I was trying to live by.
But in the context of that night – with thinking about Kobe, and seeing the commercial with heightened emotions – it hit me differently. Likely, all the reading and learning I’ve done since 2017 are at play, but I want to provide food for thought for anyone who, like me, have lived for years unaware of their own biases, and/or felt slighted by Issa Rae’s remark.
It seems that her statement is anti-white, which as a white woman, is hurtful and shocking. But when we consider the fact that just about everything for hundreds of years has been white-centric, it makes much more sense, and hurts less.
I realized my initial pearl-clutching shock at Issa Rae’s statement was a lack of awareness that it is not possible to be racist against white people.
Google’s new Black History Month commercial taught me about my own racism that if I am not cheering for Black people, I am basically cheering against them. Their lack of support (to put it extremely mildly) since the beginning of this country merits, in my opinion, extra reason to cheer when they are successful, and systems like affirmative action that help to level the playing field more to get them to that success.
Will I only be cheering for Black people? No. I will cheer for my favorites of any race, and hope the best in whatever situation wins. But moving forward, I will do what I can to support Black people and people of color, and be aware of my privilege when I can.
And, I will continue on my journey to learn more so I can be better.