Perception Is Not Reality

Updated: Sep 20, 2020

Social media is an interesting medium. You can learn just about anything with instructional videos or view news clips and events from around the world. It has allowed us to move information around at a record pace. It has also given people the space and freedom to say what they want to anyone and anywhere. With the many positives this medium brings, there are also negatives. As we touched on in a previous blog, the young black community seems to be losing its footing. There seems to be a growing divide among our men and women due to a variety of historical and social factors. Now, you can find forums and other social spaces where black women are "telling their truth" and encouraging each other to engage in certain behaviors.

A good example is a conversation on the r/BlackGirlDiaries subreddit. One person posted a comment about the shooting incident between rapper Megan The Stallion and rapper/singer Tory Lanez. Although the particulars of the incident are still unclear and no facts about the case have been shared, some women in this thread view the incident as an embodiment of black men's abuse towards black women. What is interesting about this particular post is how this incident was connected to the shooting of Jacob Blake and the rumors of his sexual assault charges. The writer of the post seems to have the sense that straight black males care more about criminals getting shot by police than innocent black women getting shot by police (or by other black men). This person is also searching within the forum for guidance on how to reconcile the emotions they have. I imagine they are unaware of the articles posted by Reuters and USA Today clearing the rumors on Jacob Blake:

Under Wisconsin State Legislature, sex with a minor is not within the definition of a third-degree sexual assault as it is in Rhode Island.
In Wisconsin, a person is guilty of this felony if he or she “has sexual intercourse with a person without the consent of that person”. It also includes other sexual contact (see definitions (5)(b) 2 and 3 here ).
Posts with the claim erroneously reference the legal definition of third-degree sexual assault from Rhode Island, visible here , which states a person is guilty of third degree sexual assault if “he or she is over the age of eighteen (18) years and engaged in sexual penetration with another person over the age of fourteen (14) years and under the age of consent, sixteen (16) years of age.”
- (Fact check: Jacob Blake does not have an arrest warrant for having sex with a minor, Reuters)

This leads us to our topic for today: Perception is not Reality. Too often do people on social media jump to a conclusion without taking the time for due process. After the initial post from gigababejfl was made, other women from the subreddit offered their misinformed thoughts. Afterwards, the post creator replied.

The first paragraph is referring to the boyfriend of Breonna Taylor and a connection he may or may not have had to criminal activities. She assumes some men (to what quantity is unclear) think Breanna Taylor getting gunned down by police is acceptable. It would be interesting to speak to these men she is referring to. Are they random strangers she met or saw on social media ? Are they real people?

From there she infers that the same men "fight cops, rape kids, attack pregnant women" and so on and so forth. How would she know that? Again, does she know these men personally? Or is she projecting a fantasy onto these men? If they were raping people, and a laymen like herself knew about it, how would they still be free to post to social media? Clearly, a group of people reeking this much havoc on society would not have freedom for very long.

Let's say for argument sake that she isn't referring to the social media men from the previous paragraph and she's actually referring to the men that have been highlighted as victims of police shootings. You would still have to question her familiarity of the victims. Which one raped kids or attacked pregnant women? Most of the well known victims like Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown were teenagers, not men. To my knowledge, they were not linked to raping women. So, again, who is she referring to? She ends the post stating that she's done giving unconditional support to abusers. Afterwards, more women post supporting comments or affirmations.

Although the concept of not supporting abusers is rational, the fact that the whole conversation is based on an unproven rumor is very concerning. With subreddits like the example above and twitter hashtags like #divest, it is easy for one's mind to fall into the trap of stereotypes, flakey anecdotal evidence and propaganda from unknown origins. After observing, you can see the arguments presented in these spaces do not include thoughtful research nor are they produced by an emotionally stable mind. With the variety of people who exist and the variety of experiences, it’s impossible for one individual‘s anecdotal experience to contain all that is needed to represent any group of people or their behaviors. Few have the necessary social science skills to analyze and produce reasonable assumptions and theories.

(CNN)— "Law enforcement and federal officials say outside elements from both far-right and far-left groups are helping fuel the violent and damaging confrontations that have marred protests across the country.."

As I take a step back, I start to wonder if there may be more to this than I originally thought. Slowly, we've discovered far-right and far-left groups (both parties comprised mainly of misguided white people) have been the main puppet-masters behind the riots and looting of our major cities. A question arises; is the rhetoric we see in these spaces produced by actual black women, or is there something or someone else that is pushing this content on our people? Twitter users like Divest Lioness joined twitter in August of 2020. I find it strange how the more I dig into the backgrounds of these "individuals" the more questions I have on their motives and the nature of their agendas. I also question whether or not these are real people from our community.

We must remember the lessons learned from the movie The Wizard of Oz. We must not allow messaging and crafty storytelling to override our better judgement. We must always challenge what we see and ask difficult questions. If we don't, we run the risk of dooming our community, our movements, our progressions and ourselves.

Are threads like #divest and other threads that bash genders based on the actions of a few (or based on outright lies) products of people trying to divide and conquer our community? Or is this really how real black women of 2020 think and feel? Let us know in the comments below.