…Five columns in black and white interspersed with de riguer beauty in action– shots.
I will not drag the mag with a classic nailing to the wall because they tried. You can really tell all over this issue that they did, that a contingent of people in power there Are really trying to do better when it comes to representation beyond traditional white lines.
But when an article reads like a throwback to an era where there Was no trying, where everyone was pleased as punch about the stilted narratives sold on people of color, and no one was questioned, let alone reprimanded for their technical fouls-
…even when the stereotypical tsunamis are toned down the passive-aggressive riptides will be there for any who have once dealt with that beast (only biding its time in those deep-seated racial waters) to see.
In a magazine article of approximately 2500+ words… prosaic, thinly veiled references to how well this beautiful black young woman spoke and how powerful that was were made multiple times. With her pen the writer repeatedly distilled everything she came across in researching this kid to the classic, tried-and-true defensive white-out refrain of hidden in plain sight racist folk.
“Wow! Look at how articulate this black person is! Isn’t it marvelous?!”
It is a throwback to the run of the mill, racist “Look at how well it speaks! I am amazed one of its kind is able to achieve such a thing!” trills by dirty onlookers pointing at fantastic creatures on display in carnival tents.
The people of color one & two generations above me used to get supremely offended by this because they felt the hurt intended by the backhanded compliment in all that nonsense.
It coated their successes the way pigeons coat cars with their mess on hot days, made sure the black person knew that no matter what they did their accomplishments were being seen through a quietly volatile veil of chalky, white shit.
In my generation we started recognizing it for the terrified shield it is and defiantly poking it.
The surest way to drown out Any cognitive dissonance triggered by a black person snapping your subconscious awake with abject clarity that you can’t deny strums the humanity you have in common With them…is to quickly remind yourself of the false narrative kept in circulation that an ability to DO such a thing is a parlor trick.
You try to block out the light in them by “reminding yourself” that according to your intel, darkies aren’t normally able to Do that.
They aren’t even supposed to be able to gain access to your realm without tokenism, offering the stereotypical motifs you’ve told yourself they must be bearing as gifts to be there, like weed, a dance move, patois or flow you’re going to steal and present as your own to make you look cool.
Any white person braying about how eloquent a black person is -usually represented as a child comparatively speaking, even IF the person is an actual adult- speaks to an unspoken, accepted and expected aspect built into this culture. It is an alarm being rung over a psychological buffer that promised to stand the test of time being quietly breached.
The vanguard of my gen-x generation saw that crap for what it was, rolled its eyes and kept doing whatever the fuck they wanted to do, grateful for the people they came across with caucasian roots in touch enough with their true humanity to not Do that shit …and hoped for the future.
That future is now…and the millennials taking the realm at media outlets like this ARE trying.
But they may have no choice but to push all variants of the old-school “leavening” out of the mix of their batches of intended to be shared bread whenever it reveals itself as such.
If in 2019 the loudest refrain you have to offer to the current conversation is and look how well it speaks… It begs the question:
Why position yourself to be included in those kind of conversations when it comes to what’s next with such an absent leaning in the opposite direction?
The intent is to go forward in race relations, not just underground with up-to-now accepted forms of it.
Many in this Millennial generation are understanding they too have a place in resolving this racial cataclysm via true dialogue.
But true dialogue is impossible when you have been unconsciously raised to focus more on how eloquently a melanin-blessed person pronounces the same words you learned than on what they are saying.
It sounds crazy but it is finally becoming glaringly obvious that calling out members of their own tribe on their collective bullshit at close range is what will truly help fix all this.
It is finally starting to become obvious that the clarion-call Of them making that stop being a racist moron call-out… can’t be whited out by “lookatitspeak” birdshit…
& That is occurring without a black, brown or yellow person having to loudly speak out against it -which often gets written off as falsely performative by those guilty of the racial injustice, dancing on the wary, terrified other end of that bony eloquent spectrum ( a.k.a wow-he’s so articulate-heaven help us if he can articulate the infractions committed against him to the point of being believed!) –
Everywhere else in this magazine issue you see beauty positively positioned as such in every shade and texture sans drumroll. It’s the most colorful issue yet and it took the masthead hitting its fifth year to just go for it, embracing the energy and ideals of Vogue Italia’s late and great Franca Sozzani.
Porter deserves props for that. So much of this issue is in the refreshing spirit of a long time coming, and I’ve witnessed them consciously building towards this from its start. Frankly, there are magazines that have been in circulation half a century that are Still steadfastly fighting against embracing that “Love ALL Beauty” vibe.
Sara Bailey (the acting editor-in-chief of Porter Magazine) is a creative powerhouse. The article’s author is actually a phenomenal polymath I’ve enjoyed whenever she’s opted to interview. Perhaps knowing that and seeing the racial misstep against the backdrop of how utterly wonderful this issue is overall makes it smart all the more.
Maybe the writer had never even noticed herself doing it. Many in my own Benetton bathed, long live the multi-culti generation who have technically been conscious comrades in arms in all this working towards and hoping for the best ARE now being faced with this and are bewildered by it coming to the surface.
Why? Because they’ve been unconscious Of it, haven stood their ground against it in who they took home as friend or lover over the years, even lost fam due to it for decades… and their POC friends have let addressing it go so as to focus on successfully slaying bigger racial beasts.
Many of those old beasts Are gone. But this monster has grown in their absence.
It all gets so complicated in its simplicity sometimes.
Because there’s one more element to praising and absently focusing on eloquence of language when(supposedly fully & truly ) interacting with a person of color.
You’re absently positioning yourself as an arbiter of language solely based on the color of your skin and what you’ve been raised to think that skin tone affords you and says about your default level of intelligence. But that’s ALL an ancestral lie spun to soothe you.
There is not ONE person of color in America or any other Western country that does not speak at Least TWO languages fluently in some shape or other, for survival purposes.
This includes all of that scintillating patois those same people marvelling at the Queen’s English coming out of full lips live to steal and comically trill as their own with their friends( …from Nigga to yaaassss, bitch~). And that’s not even including the additional colonized languages and their patois often also layered on top all that.
On actual average the living language capabilities of melanin-blessed people are 2:1, 3:1 and higher in larger cities.
Yet there are still Caucasians marveling from 19th century plantation porches in the seat of their souls that their families may have once had… at how well a black person can comprehend and communicate…in English.
It’s been a weird week for racism in these hills.
I’ve been watching it dawn on people in their 30s without my ever mentioning that what I’ve been defiantly standing against Has been racism.
I’ve been witnessing them declare it about their own in shocked disgust, realizing that the insidious variant of it they’ve seen in the attempts I’ve been bluntly caustic about without ever bothering to use that word IS the true unspoken racial war afoot in their generation in 2019.
…and I’ve seen the birth of their outrage & disgust towards their own on this compel them TO have to speak on it. Because it’s not acceptable…to Them.
…It has been the most beautiful supernova seen in some time.
And it is in honor of the shy, horrified check-ins on that..that compel my pen today.
So much has been yanked from under the rug and handled. It’s why the world feels so alive with screams of fear and indignation.
Light is a trip sometimes.
As is facing the dark.