Whether CNN’s “reflection” on 2020 on The Grio’s “analysis” of the black teen assaulted by a domestic terrorist, the contemporary black face and voice illustrate a conflicting espousal to an anti-black farce encompassed by a single word: unity.
CNN’s 2020 reflection, which predictably solicited black correspondents Abby Phillip and Van Jones as its Neo-liberal mask, archived 2020 as a year of racial justice marked by the “unity” of “people of color” embedded in one person: Kamala Harris.
The white media’s force-feeding of Kamala Harris as a hero to the black collective as a portrait of America is quite telling if not foreshadow. The want for black vestment in Ms. Harris hints at her role as a veil for a racist agenda. Her embodiment of unity is a contemporized version of Obama’s hope, emotions socially dictated and reproduced by a society that implements and embeds these images as the “hope” and “unity” that they will not seek to further beyond the optic.
Nevertheless, had I heard Jones and Phillip’s works ten or twenty years down the line, I would have a perception of last year that counters my own experience. Had I not put boots on the ground, and felt that vibe you feel when you’re in a common space for uncommon reasons, their words would become my truth. This one statement conveys the danger of the news as an epistemological source. What we saw last year was the use of black people and the black experience to foment anti-blackness. It is this false premise of unity that posits Netflix shows, the black optic, and a white male political racist as progress.
Ideas of progress derive from what is perceived as truth. The news does not tell the truth—it creates truth from fiction. This distorted fiction works to keep the consumer within the confines of hegemonic thought. The black face exists so that the black consumer can let down their guard, open their ears, and believe that the forces of an anti-black media have united in their interests. This, of course, could not be further from the truth.
This false sense of unity is also conveyed in the term “people of color” employed during the CNN recap. No black person should ever employ this term in a manner that references themselves or any other black person. To do so delineates adversarial comfort as a priority. Black people as people of color constitute both a myth and a hope that this ideology will become contagious among those who conceptualize blackness as a burden.
A recent article in The Grio implements this very ideology. Specifically, the author goes into why it is okay to center blackness, and she makes several salient points about intra-culture conflict and how white ideology permeates black existence. However, she follows these points with a reference to the “unity” of last summer, embodying what happens when everyone centers blackness.
So, here, I guess I agree somewhat. What we saw last summer was unity amongst those who don’t truly want to see any advancements for blacks beyond an optic. What we witnessed last summer was unity in weaponizing blackness against black interest and progression.
Perhaps the most sinister and pervasive means to propagate this false ideal of unity, is through what I call, the trope of the crying negro. Here, I reference Van Jones, Don Lemon, and Sara Snider as examples. In the last twelve months, all three of these journalists and corespondents, amongst others, have gone viral for shedding tears over the COVID-1619 and COVID-19. The tears, posit the banal phrase: “we are all in this together” suggesting unity, once again, at the expense of black sacrifice.
Unity at the expense of black sacrifice is also what we saw with black capitol policeman Eugene Goodman, who no only embodies the “we are all in this together,” but works to humanize the soldiers of white supremacy: the police. Moreover, Goodman constitutes the white savior image in blackface as a black man defending black people or black spaces would easily translate to “domestic terrorist” or “hate-monger” in this anti-black space. Once again, the complexities that constitute black existence become buried under what the media propagates as a universal feeling only universalized when a black face encompasses a socially dictated sentiment.
In short, the false premise of unity, as perpetuated by black faces selected by anti-black agents, illustrates whites, people of color, and bamboozled blacks as unified and diverse in their practice of anti-blackness. This lethal collaboration delineates a false unity implemented and sensationalized to disrupt unity amongst African people. The media distorts this truth so that this violent practice can continue to take place.