Monday, June 13, 2016

My thoughts on 'men' who don't date black women

My thoughts on 'men' who don't date black women

One of my favorite virtual venues to go to for interesting videos is my friend Laala's Facebook page. Laala, by the way, is a Black woman in her30's who I know because 20+ years back,  I was a middle school teacher in East Harlem, New York City and she was one of my students.

At any rate, I came across a video that Laala shared titled "
My thoughts on 'men' who don't date black women" For some reason it intrigued me. I probably should explain that interest a bit, but I think that if I simply paste in, below, the exchange I had with Laala on her page, it will be pretty clear.

Do I think he’s authentic? Well, I think that because this is a man posting YouTube videos, it’s a lot more complicated than that.
But, first, yes, I do think that Jaxn is authentically portraying the way he’d like to be seen and understood and appreciated here. And I do think he’s posting messages that he believes in pretty much as far as anyone who posts messages for public consumption does.
But he’s creating and posting within a niche, a zone that’s his demographic and cultural sweet spot, or perhaps comfort zone would be a better way to put it. And so, I guess, that however he really is, he’s tempered that to whatever extent he feels is necessary to continue to be credible and popular as an icon that appeals there. Nothing wrong with that, but because Jaxn has established himself as a media phenomenon, he has motivations beyond simply being, or being himself, he has to be a media self when in the media and we, his fellow humans, would be wise to be aware of and understand that because I think it very much speaks to how our species has adapted to life driven by the social media we’ve developed to drive it. Come to think of it that was a great question, Laala, because I guess, the state of being authentic has shifted somehow to include the possibility of being YouTube authentic.
As I, a member of a far different demographic group than Jaxn, look at his videos I see an articulate young Black Man who has adopted a stance (and I think Stance is very much a dominant part of the message of content creators like Jaxn) that comes off as Angry- not howlin’-at-the-moon,  pissed off at the World, but still, in a measured way, Angry. He presents himself as someone who sees and understands, living in the World surrounded by those who don’t and who make the World a lesser place because they don’t. And it’s his job, his enlightened, self appointed job to set them and everyone else straight about some things and to make the World right through the act of doing that.

And I’d like to add that this stance of Jaxn’s is damn effective. What results is some very compelling video and when you factor in his choice of themes and his delivery, it’s easy to understand why they have so much appeal.

His messages? Hmmmm. Well, they apparently are relevant and resonate deeply for the audience to which he is directing them. And no doubt it's easier for me than his audience, by far, to take a couple of steps back and look at his messaging objectively. Let me take a stab at it... First, he's a contrarian, he likes to select themes that I suppose are central to the concerns of his young, Black, audience... and that alone, I guess, is a good part of the message... his saying "Here's something that we don't often bring up to a conscious 'let's talk about and examine THIS' level, but I'm doing that now, ready or not!" and then he follows that with his own view on the issue, one that I guess is somehow very different than the common take on it. And that, being what sets him off from the others, the rest of the pack, what makes him special and worth paying attention to. And then there's his personality and the way he uses it to articulate and deliver that opinion.

In this video, for instance, we see Jaxn in his car, seat belt across his chest, talking directly to us about Black Women. In the 90 seconds this video runs he explains that "some Black men have said they  prefer to date White women or foreign women or Hispanic women or whatever, but  "As a man, my only request is that you leave Black Sisters out of your ignorance!" He goes on to strongly state (and there's almost an implied threat in his voice, a daring of other men to question his right to take the moral high ground of defending Black women) that a variety of stereotypical,  negative things that Black men may say habitually about Black women are unfounded and reflect their own shortcomings... "Unfortunately for you, it's not against the law to be stupid, so you have every right to miss out on good women because of some kind of misguided preconception you have." and then, if there was any doubt that Jaxn is a knight in shining armor driving around in his car keeping chivalry alive and killing dragons that need slaying, he points out that Black women have been so instrumental in supporting Black men, as they've kept their community alive, that only an ungrateful cad would reflexively do other than shine the pedestal they deserve to stand on in order to further his own, selfish ends... something like that. 

It's a very obvious message, but it's so calculated and so well delivered as an undeniable and necessary truth, that who could argue with this guy? Even I fell in love with him. 

What about the production aspect of Jaxn's videos? Well, if I wasn't a fan before, this clinches it. Imagine the creative self confidence, the unbridled chutzpah behind this series. This guy talks one-on-one, directly to a camera he's set up somewhere a few feet in front of him - he's in his car, we can see the seatbelt across his chest - he delivers his pitch in his impassioned, sincere tone... he's authentically Black and he is articulate by anyone's standards, certainly by mine. It's an impressive performance he puts in and to add to the unabashedly reductivist aesthetic, the low/no production values, the 'What you see's what ya get!', no artifice, no prettification, here! look and feel of it all, Jaxn has edited his performance with a heavy hand, excising just those bits that he wants to let stand, leaving us with a series of brutal jumping cuts strung together that result in his 'straight from the heart on his sleeve' message to a world that needs to hear it. This is a talented man who has leveraged today's ubiquitous, low cost, Everyman's technology to produce some very affecting work.

By the way, do I feel like an outsider who has no business spying on the washing of dirty laundry by members of a community of which I am most definitely not a part? Of course I do! But this is YouTube and there are no curtains, no signposts up to inform the innocent or the nosy busy body away. This is the public forum where eveyone sees everybody's everything. Ever been to Jones Beach on Labor day? It's incredibly crowded and you're surrounded so closely by nearly naked bodies of every flavor that you can read the tags hanging out of their underwear, tell the color of errant pubic hairs, and overhear whispered intimacies, no questions asked. 

YouTube is contemporary Anthropology... no apologies necessary! 

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