“As influential as a hashtag may be in the moment, if a hashtag is all it is to be, can it be considered truly influential at all?
I have been absent for a while. Life took over and admittedly, I have not been as organised as I would have liked recently.
In my time away from posting on BlackBritishConcerned, there have been a few topics within the realm of race and society that have crossed my mind often enough to explore, one of which being the surge of exposure of the black agenda and pro-blackness itself in the mainstream media, social media, and subsequently our everyday conversations within the black community. This growing interest in the development and welfare of those in the African diaspora has predominantly been driven by the constant influx of American media providing a mainstream platform for these issues, as the highlight reel of continuous overt racial inequality taking place there continues to play.
Aside from the often absurdly biased nature of American media, with their use of inflammatory language, open expression of often discriminatory views, lack of professional decorum at times (ahem, fox news) and a conduct one would never find on British television, American popular culture certainly made American black history month 2016 one to remember and it was thoroughly entertaining to see play out. However, what goes up, always must come down and sadly, this sudden rise of black engagement in the collective “black power” conversation is not exempt from this inevitable slump.
As America is considered such a prolific nation, It is only natural that what they eat, the UK tastes also, as much of their nationwide worthy media coverage quickly becomes our own. I have found within my recent daily interactions that the black concern over black issues and the past and present treatment of our people has increased. Despite remaining open and encouraging to these interactions, I cannot help but wonder if is there any real depth to this new found wave of ‘consciousness’ rippling through the black community? Or are we, as black people are so naturally gifted in doing, simply keeping up with the current trends?
Maybe those that start up ‘black chats’ with me (as I affectionately term them), do so to humour me as they know that if it’s about blackness then I am here for it, my attention is theirs and so is my active participation. However when an individual who has shown no prior interest in my opinion on said issues is suddenly all ears, I do wonder (the sceptic in me to blame), whether my views are being poached to be taken to another conversation out of my sight and passed off as their own in an attempt to remain hip whilst the black trend is hot, maybe?
Awake, but not woke?
Becoming re-acquainted with your history as a person of African ancestry requires a genuine interest to know, an open mind to truth and above all else: research. To gain individual perspective on information that for so long has been deliberately fragmented in an attempt to omit those who wished to keep their hands clean, and to thoroughly understand the intracacies of systemic racism in addition to how it is woven into the fabric of western societies, is going to take much more than a few cups of herbal tea, an Erykah Badu inspired head wrap and investing in the most unrefined Shea butter one can find. Many are falling in love simply with the symbolism of black consciousness rather than the purpose of the learning itself. All whilst still navigating their lives within a semi-conscious, uninformed daze.
In a social climate as fickle as the one in which we reside in at present, where popularity trumps genuine interest almost every time, the categorisation of the long-standing black social condition of racial oppression and lack of knowledge of self as a newspaper headline or a hashtag on twitter is bittersweet. All publicity is good publicity of course, but the conditional attention afforded to black issues time and again by our own people can only lead those who are steadfast in their independent research and engagement with black social issues, whether this engagement be professionally or casually sourced to wonder; Just how much time do we have before authentic blackness falls out of favour once again?