Journalist on Twitter: "Black Women Slaves Weren't All Victims"
Like just about every other social media tool, there are positives and negatives to using Twitter. For some, it is a relatively free and easy way to keep in touch with people that you don’t communicate with on a regular basis or to send out short bits of information to people that you think might be interested in it.
What -- as writer / television pundit Touré learned the hard way -- is that quickly typing 140 character quips is not as easy as one might think. Last weekend, eight of his “tweets” went viral. I’m sure he will now do what not only he should have done, but everyone should do when using Twitter or any other social media platform:
Think before you write.
Here are the tweets that the MSNBC and Fuse correspondent wrote on his Twitter.
And the apology:
I’m assuming that while the tweets have been deleted from his account, the reason for the “discussion” came from "Race in the South in the Age of Obama," which was published in weekend edition of New York Times.
But because you can only see one side of the conversation, how he got from President Obama and the current racial issues in the South to hypothesizing about how black women slaves were essentially antebellum-era pimps boggles my mind. But that is not at issue here.
Just like every other recent news item that involves the degradation of black women, this will quickly disappear from the spotlight, so let’s not spend too much time on the outrage, as his comments and his half-assed attempt to backpedal are not really worth commenting on. What I thought would be interesting is how this situation became public and the implications that surround Touré’s remarks.
Who is Touré, you ask? He is a long-term contributing editor to Rolling Stone magazine who also freelances for a number of big-name publications. The black community has been giving him the side-eye for awhile, especially since he wrote an article In New York Magazine last summer when people were speculating where the Obamas would take their summer vacation. Since I wrote about the article, there has apparently been some speculation about the quotes he used by Black Martha Vineyardians, particularly that the quote describing Michelle Obama as a "ghetto girl" was fabricated. Also, because his wife is white and because of his career trajectory -- he has distanced himself from being a "Hip-Hop" journalist to being an on-air token black TV personality -- there is also some assumption that he is not as "down" with black folk as people would like him to be.
1. Comparisons with John Mayer’s comments in the Playboy issue: I received the link to the Gawker post via a listserv. One of the comments was, “Okay, so does this make him the black John Mayer of rock critics?" I understand the commenter was thinking of Mayer’s personal distaste towards black women and the furor that came from his comments, but I have to admit, I was irritated by the comparison, as there was an underlying meaning of “See, it’s just not white men,” or “Ha!” But as another commenter pointed out, he might have been trying to empower black women during an era in which slaves were not even seen as human, but as chattel. White folks DO NOT like when one of their own is called a racist and in their fervor, the tables tend to get turned. We aren't trying to say that y'all racist, so what is with the tit-for-tat?
On the other hand, Touré might be a rabid misogynist who not-so secretly hates black women and purposefully tried to paint a portrait other than the one many black female bloggers (and journalists) painted as a reaction to the anti-black-female rhetoric we have seen since Michelle Obama became First Lady. Before that, we were simply ignored. Sometimes I wonder which reaction is more preferable.
2. The use of his Twitter account, where he lists the companies for which he freelances. One is MSNBC. Gina from What About our Daughters raises an interesting point, because the company raised hell when reporter David Shuster leaked some news on his Twitter page:
If I was MSNBC I would be hiring some fact checkers because you may have a Jayson Blair-like problem on your hands. If his BlackBerry was indeed hijacked by his “cousin” then what does that say about his judgement. If in fact there is no “cousin” then what does that say for X-Ray’s character? It appears he outright lied. I’m not sure and that’s MSNBC’s problem seeing as how their network’s name is on his twitter account.
Gina wondered if the company will penalize Touré for using his account that lists the company's name and his half-assed explanation that it was really his "cousin" that wrote the posts.
3. Is this simply a publicity stunt? I'm asking this because this seems like perhaps Touré was looking for some attention. Now there is a trending topic on Twitter about it. Because he's a black American male who is somewhat intelligent, has written a couple of books and seems have a lick of sense, I'm scratching my head as to why he would post that crap on such a public forum. He knew that people would get riled up, and he knew that someone would pick it up. Is it going to make him look good? Hell naw, but it has people talking, doesn't it?
Is this simply a grab for attention, and if so, what do we do? Part me thinks that maybe this should be ignored, as I do believe that eventually this particular situation will go away, but the "trending topic" of throwing black women under the bus doesn't seem to be going anywhere. What do you think?
Contributing Editor - Race, Ethnicity & Culture
Blog: Writing is Fighting: www.lainad.typepad.com
Writer: Hellbound: www.hellbound.ca