You know that joke about the little black lady who keeps following Obama with tears in her eyes? I find it annoying, too.
For some reason, the media is filled with crying, over grateful, pitiful black people. Halle Berry winning the Oscar, Anika Noni Rose crying because she played the first Disney black princess. Oprah, Jesse Jackson and a slew of other black people crying because Obama won the presidency, or a group of random black parents crying because the motion to have black-focused schools in Toronto was passed–I’m still cringing over that one.
For whatever reason, black people cry frequently and the media is always there to document it. This irks me, because I understand why this is so: exploitation. Besides the stereotype of overly emotional black people, supposedly tied to their irrational brains, which has difficulty reasoning but is more prone to impulse, there is also the “victimhood” of black people to consider. Black people often allow themselves to be stereotyped as victims, people who are wronged by society to the extent that they are crippled. This belief makes them easier to exploit for entertainment or news in the media.
The victimhood of black folk also appeals to the sentimentality, good-Samaritan, savior ego of whites. You know those movies about white people coming to the rescue of weak, brown, or poor, ghetto black people–E.g The Blindside, white people are inspired by those. They make guilty white folk feel good about themselves. Showing tearful black or happy black people helps to achieve this goal. Naturally, any opportunity to show whites in an heroic position–coming to the aid/defense of blacks–is welcomed.
It doesn’t help that black people don’t mind making themselves into spectacles for white folk. After all, the Masai in Kenya love to dance for the entertainment of white tourists, and black inner-city people don’t mind crying on camera about the shooting death of their children, police harassment or any other ill that has befallen them or their neighborhoods. I don’t think many black folk realize this isn’t a good thing. All it does is bring down the pity brigade, which many racists use as weapons against them–black people are whiners, they are looking for welfare handouts from the government, or they just want people to feel sorry for them.
No amount of good can come from the tears of black folk. Only exploitation and confirmation of stereotypes will come. I am not saying blacks shouldn’t have felt proud for Obama, but tears, really?
Of course, my little rant won’t stop black folk from crying on TV, and I guarantee that tonight, you’ll find a black woman crying on the news about something.