Advanced Essay #3: Kai Burton

Pinterest is a platform for all things DIY and any other interest you might have. It is a fairly simple concept, you search through pins that you like and things that you want to buy or ideas that you want to try later, you can pin ideas on boards that may have on different topics and genres. It was a cool fall night and I was trying to find the perfect outfit for my fall birthday. My eyes were squinted trying to block out the blinding light, still shining under the dimmed brightness. My finger was sliding through the thousands of pins of white women modeling fall fashions, and pins that are used to execute that perfect fall smokey eye for blue eyed girls. At first I didn’t think anything of it, so I went to the search: fun fall looks. What came up was pages and pages worth of blond women, with intricate updos meant for long thick flowing hair. I searched for ten minutes and nothing came up. My tired fingers typed, black hair, to see if I would have any luck. The next five minutes were spent trying to weed out fair skinned women with long fine black hair. Finally I typed in natural hair, and black women filled the the screen, black women with all different hair types and skin tones. I was overjoyed, I thought I’d hit the mother load, my very own lookbook right at my fingertips. Only now do I realize what a despairing day it was.

I can’t expect to walk down the street without being a novelty and someone outside of the norm. My hair, lips, nose, eyes, and skin tone have never been seen as regular, regardless of how long people with similar features have been around in this country. Everytime someone stares at the kink in my curls I want to scream/ I wonder what a world would be like without black people? Whenever I look on TV, social media, and media in general I am conditioned to think that the world would be so much better and simpler without me in it. I started analyzing my favorite shows, Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and Modern Family. All three of these shows demonstrate different types of white people and families. There’s so much diversity between these shows, but only within the white race. “The problem is there's nowhere near the diversity that our white counterparts have. We're still not allowed to be fully human in the ways they are." (Ariel Cheung, USA Today) Fortunately, in the past couple of years black people have started to be seen more frequently on our screens, but at what cost?

Younger Black women are more exposed to the extremes. They are more likely to see the negative typologies due to their higher media consumption in general, their higher tendency to look into popular culture for cues and their interest in broad self expression.” (Krissa Thompson, Washington Post) Fortunately for us people are eating up the few representations of melanin that they have been seeing on screen, but unfortunately we are only seeing the single story. When the influx of black skin reached mainstream media it only showed, back talking, loud mouthed, sassy, booty shaking black women, and aggressive and defensive men. Only recently have the people showing up onscreen been an accurate representation of all the different types of black people in reality, such as Black ish, Scream Queens, and Empire.

However I am afraid that it may be too late. After years of being ignored by the media and forced to conform into a box constructed by men who have never walked a day in our shoes, black people are really suffering. Colorism and interracial discrimination is an increasing issue in the black community and some things just can not be reversed. Since media is seeming to turn a corner and put complex black characters on the screen, there may still be a chance for black people to claim a place in this country’s story.