When I was in college, I got an interesting forwarded email. A young black man was enraged because of a site called Stormfront*. Stormfront was a fledgling site for all things white supremacist. There were articles, cartoons, paraphernalia, forums, etc. All of them were dipped deep in racist “science”, grotesque bullying, paranoia, tacit advocacy for violence, and a little dab of the white version of misogynoir (Misogynoblanc™?). The writer of the email explicitly stated that “as a BLACK man”, he was offended by everything on this site, and that everyone should look at the site and be enraged with him and spread the word.
And look, we did. We got mad at the cartoon of the African with the bone in his nose and in between his ears. We got pissed off at the article claiming that the government was engineering the death of the white man. We nearly threw a book through a window when an article suggested literally branding white women who married men of color and their “mongrel” children, since “if they’re going to sleep with live stock, they should be treated like livestock”. We were so mad, we HAD to spread the word about this dangerously despicable site. At least on HBCU campuses, we went insane with rage. This was the first case I can recall of bonafide internet angrection™.
Only one problem: the “BLACK man” was actually either a major fan of the site, or it was one of the site caretakers. It could have been Don Black himself, the founder of the site. SIDE NOTE: Do you ever wonder if he changed his middle name to “Ain’t”? Whomever it was, he wrote the email and sent it out to a few places, and we took the bait. He got some major traffic for Stormfront. It is still a major hub for bigotry and misogynalbino™(?) today. I don’t think that all of the black people who opened their emails and CollegeClub** forums and saw the fake message and distributed it in a rage were the major key to their success, but we definitely helped, as it was all were were talking about, from Morgan to Howard, from Greensboro to Spellman. We got clickbaited, catfished, AND trolled all at the same time. We should have been focusing on keeping BlackPlanet*** a viable media center, of holding BET accountable for turning into a booty video station. I think that this begrudgingly genius tactic of getting your adversary to focus on something that deserves no attention while more important things are going on should be called StormFronting. And now it is happening again.
Last week, the most famous pretty white actor with adverb for a name Blake Lively posted on her Instagram a split picture of the front and back of her in a long tight dress, and the caption said, “LA face with an Oakland Booty”. It was funny, cute, and anyone who is into women and butts took a pause to admire the motor in back of her Honda. Seriously, even white boys had to shout. Also, [other arbitrary Baby Got Back pun about anacondas or someone named Becky]! Since Ms. Lively is famous, it of course garnered attention. Not all of it was positive. JE Reich of Jezebel wrote an article about the Instagram post, not to praise Blake Lively for blaking lively and embracing her body as it is, curves and all, but to admonish her for perpetuating “passive racism”. Even though Reich acknowledges that Lively’s post was likely a nod to “Baby Got Back”, she still posits that Lively is also perpetuating a harmful dichotomy: the “elegance” (whiteness) of LA, and the “hoodness” (blackness) of Oakland. If anyone read this article, they just might get an angrection™.
And what an angrection™ it created! Quite literally within less than 12 hours, other sites beyond Jezebel were talking about Blake Lively’s Instagram post, and JE Reich’s article about Blake Lively’s insolence. Daily Mail, LaineyGossip, Entertainment Weekly, and about 100 other sites talked about this offense Blake Lively perpetrated against black women with her post. People on Twitter, famous and not-so-famous, did the obligatory body shaming of Blake Lively, and then they talked of how she appropriated a song about black women’s bodies and used it for herself without first consulting the Black Council**** and begging permission. How dare she quote a song that is on queue to play at 12:47am during the “old school” set of every bro bar in America that is filled with white people trying to dance and take a tequila shot at the same time! She should never have used the song reference! How dare this pretty white lady use her Instagram and quote a song she may or may not like! This is 2016! We’ve come so far, and now we’re back to 1992, because that is when the song was released! A POX UPON HER BOOTY! Ms. Reich didn’t even have to include a reference to Sara Baartman.
This was a perfect example of StormFronting.
I can’t even try to pretend to be offended by Blake Lively’s post. It is not only because I happen to like some of her work, but also because this is some serious red herring editorializing. “Baby Got Back” is almost 25 years old. It went at least gold, and it definitely won a Grammy. It is a staple in all jukeboxes across the North American continent, and I’d wager a few in Europe and Asia. Yes, it was written and performed by a black artist, but it was written to be popular with whoever wishes to listen to it, hence the gold album status and the award. Sir Mix-a-Lot himself said, in Cosmo of all places, that he doesn’t care that she used to lyric quote! If he did, he’d have to be mad at every sorority sister who keeps re-ordering it on TouchTunes and shaking her butt after every damn peach schnapps shot, Brienne!
If we are to treat “Baby Got Back” as if it is a sacred cow never to be sullied by the “other” people, then should we not hold that true to everyone? Perhaps we should go after that news correspondent who honored Phife Dawg’s passing by using Tribe Called Quest lyrics report on traffic. Oh yeah, I teared up with joy, but how DARE you, sir! Phife was OUR artist. You are NOT on point all the time! Should we probably go by regional songs as well? Have you been humming “California Love”? You bite your tongue! That song is for the people of LA and Oakland ONLY! And since Tupac is originally from Baltimore, we need to curse his ghost for appropriating West Side culture. Speaking of which, No, Montell Jordan, this is NOT how we do it. We are from the East Coast, and we would NEVER gentrify your song by quoting it. Tall people, if you sing “I Wish (I Was a Little Bit Taller”, you are taking away from short people who want rabbits in hat with bats. I’d better consult a British person before I quote “Hey Jude”. You have all been warned!
Here’s another reason why JE Reich was StormFronting: JE Reich is white. She used enough buzz words to trigger an angrection™, and she lit up Black Twitter with it. Perhaps she meant no harm, but harm was done. Whether she fancies herself an activist or ally or not, one still needs to think deeply about what actually IS a battle worth fighting. In this case, the news about Blake Lively's butt completely overshadowed an ACTUAL case of black bodies being exploited and shamed; it was the First Body.
Drawing shit demon Ben Garrison used his “talent” to draw a cartoon with the tag “Make the First Lady Great Again”, with a very attractive caricature of Meliana Trump next to a very unflattering depiction of Michelle Obama. Ms. Obama is shown scowling, with huge cut arms, and a bulge her crotch, insinuating she has a penis. Meliana looks like a curvy Barbie Doll. The comments about the cartoon ranged from despicable to “DearGodMyFaceIsMeltingWhyIsMyFaceMelting”. People compared Michelle Obama to a gorilla, a “bull dike”, and of course, a man. Comments about her body are something we see a lot when it comes to athletic black women, all of them disgusting, racist, and based in deliberate denigration and de-humanization. Then Alex Jones, radio show host and #1 contender for the Smegma Stain of America, chimed in and lauded the cartoon. He then went on a 5-minute rant hypothesizing that Michelle Obama is a man, and that she killed Joan Rivers for “outing” her. He claimed her kids were not really hers, because he didn’t think they look like her. Mark this as the first time a racist asshole actually said that black people DON’T look alike. He continued on saying that she’s always been a man, and she didn’t get “the surgery”, and Barack Obama is secretly gay which is why he’s all for “trannies” in bathrooms now, and he’s still an islamo-Kenyan dictator who [insert grotesque racist diatribe]. He finished up by reiterating his “Michelle Obama is secretly a man” line…well…he finished, or I turned it off so as not to want to get angrier than I already was.
It’s been a week, and I have yet to see an article by JE Reich discussing the damaging language and imagery used. In fact, The first two articles I saw regarding the cartoon were from British and Indian news sites. This is a black woman who has been dehumanized in order to prop up a pretty white woman. It’s not just any black woman; it is THE black woman. The First Lady and her daughters have been the targets of the most vitriolic, savage swill in the media by conservative pundits, more so than any other first family. They are depicted as monkeys, they are admonished for being teenagers, Michelle’s arms are always a target of ridicule, and her credentials are always questioned. When news came out that Malia Obama was heading to Harvard, Fox News, the source of all of the subversive racism against the Obamas, had to shut down their comment section about the story, because there was too much OVERT racism being spewed. That is like David Duke looking at Hitler and saying, “Whoa, dude…you need to chill out”. Where are all the think pieces discussing Ben Garrison and Alex Jones and their role in perpetuating racist misogyny (misogynowhite™?)? We have here the perfect example of EVERY negative stereotype about black women’s bodies utilized to de-humanize black people. It was like watching Lupita Nyong’o’s whipping scene in 12 Years a Slave in slow motion. It almost hurt. I am alternately balling up my fists as I type this thinking about it. But JE Reich and the SJW gossip columnists and the Hoteps in the Twitterverse have hardly touched this story, and decided to attack Blake Lively.
We can clown Blake Lively for a few things. Her wedding on an old plantation is kind of worth clowning, if only because of the optics, but even black people have weddings on old plantations nowadays. I assume they hire white servants and rename them Chinua and Adichie for their service. Lively’s antebellum inspired website “Preserve.us” is RIPE for ridicule, starting with the name. It sounds like a sister site to Stormfront. It was like a racist GOOP, and it was just as oblivious of itself as GOOP, too. But much like the South, Preserve.us shall never rise again. Fortunately, unlike the South, it doesn’t threaten to rise again while waving its racist dick in the air and scream about its “historic” value. But Blake Lively quoting a 24 year old booty jam? That is nowhere near as deserving of level of rage that the attacks on Michelle Obama and her daughters does. Once JE Reich and the people she whipped into a frenzy write about that, then maybe she can make up for StromFronting.
…Misogynivoire™! That’s the white version of misogynoir.
*Not linking anything to related to Stormfront. It gets enough traffic, especially this year.
**Before there was Twitter, before Facebook, before Friendster, before MySpace, there was…COLLEGECLUB! I’m old AF.
***BlackPlanet was a Black Twitter, Tinder and Facebook before there was even a Friendster. It still exists. Reference: Kanye West’s “Get ‘Em High”. Don’t worry; These were his College Droput years. He didn’t evolve into his current Dragon Ball Yeezus state yet.
****There is no Black Council…or IS there???