Why Did ABC’s “The Year 2018” Weirdly Feature #LivingWhileBlack?

Ezinne Ukoha
Dec 28, 2018 · 6 min read

Regular scheduled programming is being replaced with end-of-year fare, as 2018 comes to a close after months of extreme chaos; under the disastrously toxic administration that is exacting irrevocable damage to a terminally ill nation that will need a miraculous antidote to fully recover without unsightly scars.

The burden of accommodating a White supremacist as president, comes with deadly consequences for helplessly desperate migrants who have to contend with violent encounters at the borders, as agents carry out orders to do whatever is necessary to keep diseased Brown bodies from entering with criminal intent.

When it comes to the Black population, history continues to keep the religion of White supremacy activated without any empathy to spare.

From the seventies when my father was almost shot dead by police officers who were called by White residents, after they saw a Black man step outside the home of their White neighbor, to the 9–1–1 calls that “BBQ Becky” and “Permit Patty” made in the summer of 2018— #SurvivingAmericaWhileBlack has always been a challenging task allotted to those who apply.

But make no mistake about it, when it comes to the way news organizations disgustingly capitalized on the viral videos — depicting innocent Black children being harassed and brought to tears by adult White women— we have to accept how and why Black pain has become a profitable investment.

The explosion of trendy news item featuring Black people being haughtily provoked by the pompous bigotry of White people, and their army of badged thugs, was a highlighted pastime, that birthed the nonsensical notion that 2018 was somehow notable for the moment when Starbucks initiated the hashtagged season known as #LivingWhileBlack.

Online outlets didn’t give two fucks about the mental trauma holding Black users under siege, as the day began with the plethora of evidence that evoked our societal worthlessness, as we engaged with the viral videos of Black women and Black children being reduced to the inhumane treatment that has always been systematically reserved for our likeness.

There was no thought given to the possibility of furnishing a refreshingly different angle in the midst of a national crisis. No ounce of consideration for the fact that as reporters, the main duty is to not just report the story, but to also investigate the genesis of the virus, in an effort to publicly shame the White perpetrators, while exposing the criminality behind the complicity of racist cops.

And so White gawkers gained the assumption that the craziest trend of the year, was that period when their friends and relatives got a kick out of flexing their idiotic muscles, for the hilarity of legally forcing Black bodies out of spaces that belong to law abiding citizens.

CNN took brief breaks from obsessive coverage of the yellow-oaf, to passionlessly cover the #SummerOfHate, and online pubs relied on the mechanics of socialflow for those overnight clicks, that would definitely give the graphic video of the wailing Black boy and the White bitch who threatened him — the extra views that would effortlessly satisfy quota requirements.

Interesting how the likes of Oprah, The Obamas and all the other Black powerhouses, decided to remain silent when Black children endure public whipping by White offenders, who are championed by law enforcement and the media-at-large.

We’ve been programmed by programmers who needed us to internalize floods of information with robotic receptors, that can’t decipher the various frequencies, and how certain patterns have to be treated with the dignified response, that only humans can muster once contact has been established.

The current climate is devoid of anything resembling astute coverage because our tolerance has been distorted, which means that we can allow the side-by-side headlines about the woman and child that were mauled by a bear — as well as Kylie’s lip palettes that now showcase the hues that her fellow Black counterparts will kill for.

There is no cure for what we’re paralyzed with and that’s the price we pay for underestimating the potency of being social with media-driven tools — that have driven us past the brink of insanity and into territory that hasn’t yet been ventured.

But when it comes to the gross negligence of major networks like ABC, that already infected the year with exposure to questionable dealings with disgraced comedian, Roseanne Barr — who was feted to resurrect the hit sitcom that would surely find ratings gold with Trump’s America — all bets are off when blatant ignorance is propelled by the falsehood of how racism hit new highs with the over-sharing of viral videos.

ABC’s yearly review, The Year 2018, was supposed to cohesively capture the noteworthy moments that gave us pause. And while most of the mentions were validated, the unwelcome and unappetizing introduction to the White assholes, who made the illustrious list based on their weighty contribution to gleefully terrorizing Black people — incited strong emotions that can’t be adequately conveyed.

The appallingly contrived segment was unleashed under the banner #LivingWhileBlack, and the clips restored White evildoers in their element, as Black viewers took the mandated trip back to the “summer of our discontent,” that actually isn’t just regulated to the year that viral videos of tortured Black people became the trend that enriched flatlining news cycles.

Why would producers and executives at ABC, imagine that it was a reasonable move to add a still-activated hashtag to a lineup that was meant to spotlight the crazy shit that made 2018 memorable, as if nationalized bigotry is a summer fling that ends when the viral content stops garnering winning numbers?

When we talk about the lack of diversity in newsrooms, and in the hierarchy of power that can approve and adamantly disapprove, the conversation casually fades away into empty promises — that result in the snafus that deliver ill-advised segments that direly demonstrate why having all-White decision-makers is a status that has to be revised — STAT.

#LivingWhileBlack isn’t a one-time special that will be vanquished once the bedazzled ball drops.

It’s not the lottery ticket that inspired White editors to create the invisible vertical for temporary writers to fulfill with daily pitches. It’s not the seasonal attack on Black people that literally appeared “out of nowhere,” and with the scheduled insanity of White people, who were under a spell that eventually wore off once the effect stopped having that “effect.

The rampant shares and re-shares might’ve diminished the deadliness of this never-ending national emergency, that bombed out the front porches of Black homes in suburbia, while exacting permanent trauma that will haunt the souls of Black children with zero consequences to White offenders.

We might’ve comfortably adapted to the imagery of blood soaked streets and the Black bodies slumped in driver seats, and the physical assaults from men in uniform, who violently drag Black women out of parked cars, diners and welfare offices as White gawkers eagerly film and upload their ascension to viral heaven.

But the reality of #LivingWhileBlack in a country that engages you in a death match, the second you walk out the door — proves that “The Year 2018” aptly resembles the previous decades — and the decades after don’t seem to indicate a drastic switch in regulations.

Wake up America!

If we can’t end the violation of Black and Brown lives, let’s at least refrain from reducing systemized executions to the generic punch lines, that add entertainment value — that ultimately make a mockery of the lives that have been lost — including the ones to follow.

Perhaps the degradation needs to end with the slashing of hashtags — so we can respect the solid difference between:

#LivingWhileBlack and Living While Black

We can’t afford to downplay how symbols trivialize life and death scenarios. And we can’t let ABC and other outlets continue to profit from Black pain — under the guise of the trendiness of White people behaving badly.

It’s not seasonal mayhem. It’s my life, and I’m trying to live it — while Black.

Ezinne Ukoha

Written by

Juggling Wordsmith. I have a lot to say, so bear with me. https://medium.com/membership

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