Why Sharing Videos of Black Pain is no Longer an Effective Method of Allyship

Ezinne Ukoha
May 17 · 6 min read

Now more than ever, I am ready to re-activate my pledge about refraining from the instinctual urge to share and repost graphic content about upsetting events, that are used to coerce the empathetic swell of disgust and horror.

The stinging repercussion of those actions exposes how very disturbing content only mildly beckons at the practiced intolerance that most online surfers have acquired from the lethargy of nonstop reminders about Black pain and the societal violence that ordains it.

There’s also the emotional trauma that Black people are subjected to in ways that are criminal and acutely dangerous.

It sickens me to think about all those times that I readily retweeted and even determinedly hunted for ultra-violent videos, showcasing Black women and children being brutally assaulted by White cops, in a quest to furnish the incriminating evidence that would undoubtedly prove why Black people need the unwavering support of White allies.

As humans, it’s only natural to believe that when we witness the horrific treatment of fellow humans, the next step is to spread the word about something that demands immediate attention for the purpose of alerting those who are out of the loop, misinformed, or stubbornly disinterested, about the urgent matters of life and death.

But the stormy “summer of hate” that that hung heavy clouds over 2018 was the bright red flag that essentially invalidated the theory about how viral videos showcasing White people tormenting Black adults and harassing Black children — gratifyingly presents the gut-wrenching proof that White people have been searching for in their quest to drum up enough humanness to become likeminded warriors, in this never-ending fight against police brutality and the bigotry that fuels it.

If the venom of White feminism has taught us anything, it has to be the assurance that women of color, particularly Black women (since we unevenly bear the brunt of everything),will never have the privilege of accepting the genuine and heartfelt assistance from notable White women, who are more invested in issues that directly affect their wellbeing, since their societal coddling mandates that level of narcissism.

When it comes to the media, the standard offerings come in the form of yearly recyclables, that rehash the very same topics that are deposited in late spring, without the side note to frustrated readers about why it’s necessary to repeatedly unearth the ongoing crisis of Black girls being disproportionately punished in high schools, especially when the paragraph that contains the progress report is purposely missing.

As a Black woman who obsessively navigates the minefield of Twitter with the masochistic longing for the pain that’s laid out for the taking, some mornings challenge the threshold beyond the limits that anyone should be allowed to endure.

While reeling from the anger of yet another click-bait contender about the precarious and unsolvable emergency regarding the school system’s ill-treatment of Black girls, I stumbled upon another viral tweet, depicting a young Black girl with a sweet face, who seemed to be commanding an environment that was staged for her moment of relevancy.

Of course I watched the video, but the reaction afterwards didn’t match the adulation from the growing number of viewers, as a White woman shared how moved she was and added that the little Black girl was “speaking for all Americans.”

I also noticed that the user asking for the video to be retweeted was a White man with tons of followers, and an occupation as a “motivational speaker.” His desire to shop around the tearful speech by an exploited Black child, Zianna Oliphant, as she begged the Charlotte City Council to intervene in the matter of police brutality, and the senseless killing of Black men, was definitely not coming from a place outside of his own self-interests and the lure of capitalizing on the refreshed platter of Black pain.

And so I promptly added my comment to the growing pile of reactions, and needless to say, it wasn’t received very well because of the graphicness of blunt truth in the midst of superficiality.

In true fashion, the White dude raising the alarm about an issue that only summons his roving eye when it benefits his exposure in ways that guarantee his total control over how he expresses his “activism” — swiftly blocked me, after peeping the potential threat of my truth bombs.

I had to scour around to find the retweets of the tweet that my blocker asked his mostly White followers to share as evidence of their good deed for the day.

It didn’t take long for me to find what I was looking for, and again there was the public plea to White people about taking the time to digest the unsightly imagery of a Black girl, being forced to play a role that she was never meant to inhabit, if not for the disgraceful behavior of adults, who don’t give a damn about Black tears, even if it falls down the cheeks of an adorable Black girl.

Here’s the thing, if White folks really want to be dependable allies, the best place to start is by taking notes during the teachable moments, that may not be delivered via the coddling that you’re used to, because in this climate of intense hostility — nobody has time for that shit.

The fact that I was blocked due to the somewhat provoking nature of my response is proof of why White privilege is the divisive factor in race relations.

The White dude splattering the video of the weeping Black girl all over social media, while urging his posse to do the same, was really in it to win it, and that translates to aligning himself with viral content that attracts the level of attention that will endorse his supposed awareness about the activated trends that add “online activism” to his bloated portfolio.

If he were truly an ally, he would’ve attempted to initiate a conversation about my response by asking the questions that would provide thorough answers, that would clarify why the rampant sharing of videos featuring the gross illustration of Black pain isn’t a worthwhile endeavor, when you consider how very little has changed and why those practices tend to exacerbate an already infected wound.

The same goes for Black users, who follow my now discarded mantra of gathering bloodied content as the wager for the emotions that we expect to amass from the population who don’t have any solid idea what it’s like to be systemically oppressed and exterminated, based solely on the color of your skin.

The viral video of the Black girl tearfully pleading on behalf of Black lives that do matter, serves as the sobering dramatization of the outright abuse being levied on innocent children, who shouldn’t be heavily burdened with the societal ills that grown adults negligently produce at their expense.

It’s also tragically revealing to observe White gawkers bypass the atrocity of such a thing even existing, while working overtime to prove their non-conformity to the inflamed symptoms that are causing the pain and suffering of the Black girl who heroically begs for the truce that will never come.

The time has come to count our losses and move away from the habitual instincts of depositing viral clicks of Black pain, and focus more on the tangible methods of building paths of progression, that aren’t caught in the tide of purposed stagnation.

White allies have to admit immunity to viral content that tells the very same story over and over again, with the same characters in the bloodied scenario that has become unnervingly familiar, due to the thirstiness of shameless outlets.

It’s going to require a lot of humility and the willingness to internalize and process testimonies from those who know what you can’t possibly be privy to based on your White privilege.

You can’t continue to assault Black people with the nationalized weaponry that is offensively used to deplete our capacity to be mentally stable enough for coherent functionality.

All we need from White people is the promise to earnestly listen and actively do better within and outside the privileges of Whiteness.

It’s really just that simple.

Ezinne Ukoha

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