Social media is a powerful tool that can help you amplify your voice. Unfortunately, it also gives you the ability to quickly spread ignorance and tear down others. Such is the case with Instagram comedian Jess Hilarious and singer Daniel Caesar. Both are examples of young Black celebrities using social media to express uneducated, uninformed, troubling sentiments with little to no regard of their initial impact. In the words of Issa Rae, “I’m rooting for everybody Black.” But I’d also like to add that not everyone Black is informed or equipped to be thought leaders or even have a platform.
Both have been caught in controversy surrounding troubling and offensive statements towards other people of color and the Black community specifically.
A few days ago, Instagram comedian Jess Hilarious recorded and posted a video of herself mocking four passengers as they entered an airplane. The passengers were Brown men wearing turbans. Jess, assuming they were Muslim (they were actually Sikh), could be heard saying, “Ahhh! Where are you going? Where are you going?” The irony is that Jess was also wearing a headwrap. Later she screamed into her camera that she didn’t feel safe, that she felt threatened, and didn’t care how anyone else felt. She then went on the plane and said the men were no longer on the flight, leading many people to assume that she had the passengers kicked off the plane.
She posted this ignorant commentary just after 50 Muslims were murdered in the Christchurch Mosque in New Zealand. The backlash came swiftly from all sides, including the Black, Muslim, and Sikh communities.
She later cried on camera apologizing for her mistake, vowing to “do better.”
Then, as if on the same frequency of stupidity, singer Daniel Caesar went on Instagram Live to chastise the Black community for not being nicer because he believed that his friend, YesJulz ( a white female artist manager) should be allowed to say the N-word. He also stated that the Black community should stop being “sensitive,” learn from, and make friends with what he called, “the winning team.”
He then put the onus on the Black community to “bridge the gap,” concerning race. He also said, “You can’t win the game by choosing to not accept the winning team’s strategy.”
The boy clearly knows nothing about structural racism that continues to harm our communities. He knows nothing about the continued struggle for civil and human rights and it sounds like he’s been listening to Steve Harvey.
He almost certainly knows nothing about activist Audre Lorde that warned us years ago of this mentality when she said, “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.”
Again, the backlash came swiftly. During his video he vowed not to apologize but I’m sure that won’t last long once he understands the weight of his words and faces the aftermath of his comments.
This is why we must educate our youth and upcoming generations. We must “teach the babies.” So if you’re an educator, mentor, parent or any type of role model please take the time to teach youth about the impact of their voices online, the permanent damaging effects of saying anything, everywhere and recording every useless thought that comes to their minds.
Most importantly, teach them about racial, ethnic, and religious disparities across cultures, so they don’t grow up making fools of themselves by amplifying anti-Black rhetoric and discriminatory ideas that cause harm to other Black and Brown people.
Please, teach the babies! We don’t need any more grown fools.