The 3 Twitter Conversations that Need to Die and Why I'm Tired of Them4/11/2015
by Candace Simpson My favorite social media platform is Twitter because it provides the opportun...
by Candace Simpson
My favorite social media platform is Twitter because it provides the opportunity to both connect and assist us with building great things like community and social movements. Twitter is also a force to be reckoned with when it comes to sharing news and information, as well as analysis of what’s going on around us. I love Twitter for its power, but with great power comes great responsibility. And some folks abuse the power. Here are a few Twitter discussions that I want to die, so that we may clear space for more fruitful conversations.
The Never-ending PWI v. HBCU ArgumentI promise you, the plight of Black America is much bigger than the answer to, “What is better: PWIs or HBCUs?” When Taraji P. Henson publicly remarked she was sending her son to Howard because she refused to pay “$50K” to fear if her son would be “racially profiled on campus” at the University of Southern California, it resparked an age-old debate. Most recently (and gravely), the debate rose up again after Martese Johnson was brutally assaulted in Virginia in March by law enforcement officers. Oh, and let’s not forget the open letter to Toni Morrison begging her to leave her papers at an HBCU and not Princeton.
Yes. These things may be true and valid. Taraji may do well to send her child to a school she feels is more respectful of his culture. And perhaps it might send a great message if Morrison’s papers didn’t sit in an incredibly inaccessible institution for Black and Brown college students. But then again, this entire argument between PWIs and HBCUs misses one major point: as great as these schools may be, college education is more of a dream for students of color in this country. Centering our language about racial justice primarily (or solely) through this debate misses the bigger picture. College just simply isn’t an option for many Black children. Whether they attend an HBCU or a PWI, it is likely they can’t pay for it, experience incredible racial and economic oppression among their peers while enrolled, graduate with limited job prospects in our lopsided economy, and are suffering from massive student debt if they even make it out. If we are going to debate about college, I would love for us to mention that it is still quite rare that our children are prepared for the college experience in their K-12 education. As PWI grads or HBCU grads, we sound real triflin’ arguing about which is better for the cultural development of a nation.
Can we please be done with this argument?
The $200 Date DebateEvery so often, a man or woman will tweet out an epic story of the mythical $200 date. I don’t think any of us knows where it came from or who started it. But every so often, we ask the question “How much should one spend on a date?” Some people factor in the cost of movies or perhaps a dinner at an impressive restaurant. Somehow, though, the bill racks up to the magical number “$200,” which is when folks start chiming in on how the price of the first date translates into seriousness about the prospects of the relationship. Or whatever.
I really don’t care how much you spend on me: $200, $20, $2. The more we have this conversation, the more clear it is that we cannot talk about courtship or romance without the language of capitalism. That’s dangerous. Because then we start talking about what is “owed” after the exchange. It’s quite easy to convince women they owe men sex if we start raising the question of how much he put into the date. We might have more fulfilling relationships if we stopped fixating on the price range of a date and the expectations we have because of it, and actually, you know, focused on getting to know and spend time with another person.
You can’t put a price tag on a relationship, so how about we stop trying?
The “What would you do if…?” MemesHave you seen the photos that depict women in scantily clad loungewear cooking breakfast? The caption will likely read something like,
You’re at your girlfriend’s house. You wake up to use the bathroom and see her sister dressed like this in the kitchen. Your girlfriend is asleep. What would you do?
The assumption is that you’ll respond with some sort of struggle. The assumption is that you’ll express how hard it is to see a woman looking so good and not act on that impulse. Let’s stop normalizing the fetishizing of sex that happens with minimal consent, and the sexual objectification of women’s bodies. It’s just dangerous.
Some of our Brothers have responded to these tweets with comments like “Why does it matter if my girlfriend is asleep if I didn’t get consent from the sister?” or “I wouldn’t screw my girlfriend’s sister. Period.” I appreciate that some men are taking this nonsense and calling it out for what it is. Rape culture is toxic because we laugh about it.
It’s time to say RIP to the perpetuation of rape culture on our timelines.
I’m not mad because I think these repeating conversations and memes are silly. I’m mad because they point to a more pressing need: Where are the safe spaces in our community that support a more practical and complex execution around these sorts of discussions? Why do these toxic and petty conversations repeat themselves so often? If Twitter is good for anything—and I believe it is good for many things—it shows us how the things we talk about shed a light on the problematic nature of our beliefs, whether we’re fully aware of it or not.
Let’s do better and tweet sensibly.
Photo: Twin Design / Shutterstock.com
Candace Simpson is a Brooklyn native and a seminary student. You can follow her tweets @CandyCornball.