Friday afternoon, as a reaction to the acquittal of former police officer Jeronimo Yanez in the shooting death of Philando Castile, I wrote a short piece attempting to articulate the morass of outrage and irrepressible frustration that comes attached to this type of news; a perpetual vexation and outrage that sticks and shifts and stuns and stings and exists without a foreseeable antidote. The title of said piece — "Of Course The Officer Who Killed Philando Castile Was Acquitted, Because Nigger Hunting Season Is (Always) Here" — used explosive but contextually appropriate language to synopsize it, and I shared it on Facebook and Twitter.
Approximately 24 hours after it was published, I received a notice from Facebook informing me that the post (paraphrasing) violated community standards, and would be taken down. Since this is (I think) the third time this has happened to me, I was placed in Facebook jail, where I was able to read my newsfeed but wasn't able to interact with it. No new posts, pictures, or statuses. I couldn't even like other people's stuff.
The timing of this happening was actually quite fortuitous. Like many other media platforms, Facebook is a vital source — a waaaaaaaaaaaay too vital source, actually — of traffic and engagement for VSB. But this digital house arrest occurred on a Saturday and through a Sunday, and I spent most of each day either downtown for the Pittsburgh Jazz Festival or hanging out with my dad for Father's Day, so I wasn't going to be online much anyway. I can do Facebook jail standing on my head.
What's making my teeth itch, however, is while Facebook was taking down my post and flagging me for including language that would appear to be hate language but wasn't, I have real actual hate mail lingering in my inbox. Including some where I'm literally called a nigger. But Facebook's algorithmic moderation and community standards policies allow for a piece that decries racism to be banned while real actual racism is allowed to fester unblemished.
And, just in case you were wondering, I have binders full of receipts! Here's four of them!
Here's Michael Routt from Wilder, Kentucky offering me a one-way ticket to either Hell or some Negro utopia with bottomless welfare and Jordans.
Here's Robert Jackson, a grammatically challenged driver at N&L Transportation, saying I deserve a nice beatdown. (Although, to be fair, I'm not quite sure if he was referring to me or my penis.)
Ron Peters wants me to go to brunch with ISIS.
And then of course there's David McClammy of Bristow, Oklahoma, who, along with calling me a nigger (twice!) invented a new slur: Tree Monkey. Look at the big brain on David! (Seriously, if he really wanted to hurt my feelings, he'd call me a coconut water monkey, because coconut water tastes like chicken saliva.)
These types of messages are par for the course when you write/talk about race and racism — or write/talk about anything actually, as long as you're Black — and I'm more amused than bothered by them. But for all of its talk about becoming more inclusive and diverse and progressive and mindful about racial/cultural blind spots, Facebook still hasn't figured out a way to distinguish between language addressing racism and actual racism. Or perhaps they know how to, but just don't care. Either way, I gotta go. I have a dinner date with ISIS tonight, and they really, really hate when I'm late.