In February while deplaning, I posted a status about the racist history of the nursery rhyme Eenie Meenie Miney Mo on Facebook. As I walked through Terminal 5 toward the baggage claim, I responded to friends’ comments and questions as they didn’t know about this. While I watched the baggage claim conveyor buzz and groan to life, I wrote out the original version of the rhyme:
“Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo,Catch a nigger by his toe,If he won't work then let him go;Skidum, skidee, skidoo.But when you get money, your little brideWill surely find out where you hide,So there's the door and when I count four,Then out goes you.”
When I picked up my bag and headed toward the taxi stand, I received a Facebook Review message saying that my comment was taken down because it was anonymously deemed offensive. That was a span of five minutes that it took between me getting to the baggage claim and retrieving my bag that someone “anonymously” deleted my comment.
I have pretty much let anyone whose constitution is so fragile that they can’t handle a matter-of-fact discussion about American history self-purge themselves from my friends list, and the people with whom I was conversing all were interested and engaged in the conversation, so I can’t imagine that one of them all of a sudden became so offended that one quote would set them off. Also, 5 minutes? Really? I submitted a multiple reports about a group called “Rochester NY Crime” who regularly used “Ebonics” to post pictures of apes and primates in police uniforms and suits, describing them as black police officers and the mayor. For my efforts, I received multiple responses days later from Facebook’s review board saying that these racist depictions of African Americans as apes and chimpanzees didn’t violate their policy on hate speech. So it took them days to review my reports, but it took only 5minutes for them to delete my “offending” comment.
I would say I’m surprised by Facebook’s Shenanigans, but it’s not the first time I’ve experienced the Review Board’s nonsensical actions. I reported two memes that depicted nude black women that claimed that they were brainwashed whores or were accompanied with a paragraph that basically condoned and called for spousal rape. If the words weren’t offensive enough, so many women have been admonished by the FB Police for sharing breastfeeding photos that it seems it would be a no-brainer that full frontal sexualized nudity should be a guaranteed deletion of the post. NOOOOPE. Those posts depicting nudity didn’t violate their terms on depicting nudity.
So When is Facebook going to admit that they just don’t give a goddamn about people of color and women, and especially people of color who ARE women? We aren’t fooled by Facebook’s presentation of a giant “#BlackLivesMatter” banner at their headquarters last year. We remember Mark Zuckerberg having to reprimand staff for crossing out “Black Lives Matter” on the company’s chalk wall, where employees can write and doodle whatever they want.
More telling than these two minor gestures (certainly the VERY least Facebook could do), FB Police have suspended Shaun King’s account when he posted a grotesque hate mail he received. It wasn’t King’s words. It was words directed at him. He shared it to show the bullshit that people of color receive for merely talking about issues in this country. A few hours after King tweeted about him being suspended and a few articles chronicling Facebook’s actions against King, he received a message saying that the suspension was “accidental”, and his account was unlocked.
Damon Young of VerySmartBrothas.com wrote an article about the Alton Sterling decision entitled “Of Course the Officer Who Killed Philando Castile Was Acquitted, Because Nigger Hunting Season Is (Always) Here”. The VSB Facebook page was sent to jail for that. A few days later, after VSBFB was released on Parole, Damon wrote about how his piece caused the suspension, but the flood of hate mail using the offending word caused no suspension of those offending letter writers, despite his reporting of them to the FB Police.
The most recent prominent figure to go to Facebook Jail is Ijeoma Oluo. She made a joke about visiting a Cracker Barrel:
“At Cracker Barrel 4 the 1st time. Looking at the sea of white folk in cowboy hats & wondering “will they let my black ass walk out of here?”
Her making light of a potentially tense situation granted her the most vitriolic drag this week on Twitter. The responses were the classic “go back to Africa” jabs and name-calling, but she also received a ridiculous amount of death and rape threats. For three days. Over a joke tweet. The hate crossed over to her Facebook account, and she reported everyone who attacked and threatened her. When Facebook did nothing, Oluo screenshot and posted the attacks. At that point, Facebook suspended HER, not the people attacking her. Later, tellingly after she wrote a piece about the incident and Facebook’s response, FB Police ended the suspension, saying it was a “mistake”. Of course. It was a “mistake”. Everything must be fine now, yes?
There are a novella-long Terms of Service agreement and an elaborate “Community Standards” page that plainly point out that the type of harassment that King and Young and Oluo and I received are supposedly not allowed, yet who was punished? Not the perpetrators, but the targets. This is much like the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution gallantly hailing the autonomy and respect and rights of men, but they blaringly forget that people of color and women live in this country, too, until the 13 Amendment…19th Amendment for women. The US loves to suck its own red, white, and blue dick, touting how it has respect for all, that everyone gets a fair share. Call it out own inequities, though, and you’ll be punished soundly. But give it a few years, and the US will be all, “Oops, we made a mistake there. You guys are more than 3/5 of a human, Here’s a 13th Amendment for you. You know what? Let’s throw in a 14th Amendment, too.”
It doesn’t really matter, though, because the US still let Jim Crow rise, and there’s a loophole in the 13th to begin with. Then we start raising noise about THOSE inequities, and we’re beaten and lynched some more, and then women start raising their voices, and FINALLY the US says, “Oh shit! Our bad. Hey, how about a 19th Amendment, for the ladies? Oh, and here’s a Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.” It doesn’t say a damn thing about the Japanese internment or the gratuitous amount of murders of civil rights activists and the municipal subjugation of women, though. To this day, the US loves to look at itself as a bastion of liberty, but there are still major problems, and instead of fixing them, it tries its best to silence the people pointing out the problem.
This is the Facebook model: Suck its own white and blue dick while touting how much of a great forum it is for everyone. Claim it will not tolerate any type of abuse from its members. When abuse happens, shut the abuser up until enough bad press is put forth that it concedes it made a “mistake”. Facebook didn’t make a mistake, though. It works exactly as it was designed. I have friends who were kicked off after they reported harassment. I still have three “pending” reports that I filed weeks ago when someone attacked me. I don’t expect them to be resolved. Facebook just doesn’t give a damn about its brown people or women (and probably its LGBTQ population), but it will roll out those platitudes as soon as it sees others looking.
“wElL iF yOu DoN’t LiKe It, WhY dOn’T yOu LeAvE?”
Because, Karl, Facebook is ubiquitous for social interactions now. Many social media sites have come and went, but Facebook has stayed, despite many reports of their slow demise. Despite its issues, it is the way to stay in contact with distant relatives and friends, get their brand out, find out local happenings, etc. The Facebook policing issue also reflects the whiteness of the culture that created Facebook and its unwillingness to listen to marginalized groups. They’d rather not deal with the problems they want addressed and only throw them a bone every once in awhile. This is an industry that people say that people of color must enter in order to gain lasting wealth, since we missed out on/were legally omitted from gaining wealth the way generations of white middle class families did. Why would one want to enter a job force that is known to be hostile from the gate? The “why don’t you leave” mantra doesn’t resolve any of that. It allows the problem to fester until it is a full-blown cancer on the site and the workplace from whence the site came. “Just leaving” instead of addressing this is as callous as telling a woman who was sexually harassed in the workplace to “just leave”. The harasser is still there, unpunished, and likely getting worse because of lack of real reprimand. Just like I can’t pack up and go to another country (mostly because I was fucking born here and have a right to be here), I won’t “just quit” Facebook, lest it become another Stormfront, but with more misogyny.
Bottom line, Facebook is American as fuck.