#THECRAFT: 6 Things Artists Need to Know About Social Media

Art, Articles, Essays, Non-Fiction

By: Steven Underwood

What’s Güd?

A lot of you guys have been asking me for advice on this pro-art thing so I decided why not turn this into a series?

Today, we will be covering social media in this steadily rising landscape. All artists know that exposure is important, but how to use it is kind of a hit-or-miss. What’s SEO? Are metrics important? Should I have a high follower count?

Read sweet babies. Let me guide you.

  1. Twitter vs. Instagram: social media platforms are as diverse as they are specific in execution. The main question artists ask is what they should be on? Maybe you know you should be on social media, but you’ve heard conflicting success stories about both. Essentially, it’s important to look at these mediums for what they prioritize. Writers have gained a lot of success on Twitter due to its idea and written based format; careers are literally defined based on how successful your thoughts are and that’s why it’s so important to apply this to your work. Instagram is far more visual. Just think about it, we’ve all heard the term IG model before, not Twitter Model. Brands and clients pay more attention to what they can see on a platform designed to make what you see better! Graphic designers should pay special heed to this, but not too much. Twitter has a need for Design as a form of meme generation and gif processing. I hear the older folk asking “What about Facebook?” Eh… Facebook as a brand is good for getting news out, or posting updates, but you can get better reach with these other two. It has a use, but as a support to these other two formats.
  2. Network Groups: Networking is 80% of the job. If you don’t know anyone, you won’t get far– no matter your talent. In writing, this means you should be hunting for the DM group chat on Twitter and doing whatever you can to stand out and participate. This includes online Forums and FB groups. Keep your name in their mouthes and betaread! Giving criticism and doing reviews for other writers will not only get your name out, but that translates into more Social Media advocacy. Followers are closely watched by publications. They matter! What matters more is if your posts are being shared by others who might have a larger network than you, or if you’re interacting with someone who has a better standing socially. This doesn’t mean be fake, or lie about what you review, but authentically these people share the same passion you do. The rest is simple to iron out. Visual Artists on IG should go to Meet-Ups, and frequent groupchats as well. Also, don’t be afraid to spam!
  3. Metrics/Avoid Purchasing Followers: This is a big one, and it isn’t top priority because now most people know its bad. Essentially, your follower count is only as good as a Thesis statement in an essay: it’s vital, but not as good as your body paragraph. Metrics are fat superior. For Example, my twitter account @Blaqueword, boasts a pretty 1k in followers, pretty average. However, my impressions range into the 40,000s. How? My followers are frequent and avid users and my tweets “go in”. Basically, more of my followers interact and share my content AND they have a larger follower count than me (boasting 100 active followers with a blue check mark works out soooo well). As long as I use this, my posts and shares will always guarantee me an upward trajectory! However, purchasing followers works out worse for you. If your followers are all not interacting, clients/brands will notice and hold it against you. It makes you a creative catfish. Sure, they should be interested in you because they like your work, but that’s not a good bottomline. They want someone who can guarantee sells or interest. You just don’t. Organically generating followers always works out.
  4. Scheduled Posts: This is probably the most difficult feat. Staying on top of your social media is important and draining. Sometimes, there just isn’t enough hours in a day. Well, not postinf frequently enough in one day can drastically harm your impressions and therefore your metrics. If every 10,000 impressions gets you 2 followers and they afford you 300 bonus impressions with whether they like/share your posts, you miss out on a lot of potential reach. But, being online limits how much art you actually get to do. Ergo, scheduling. For @Blaqueword, I use Hootsuite. It allows me to not only schedule posts, but knowing my analytics, I can better understand what I should be posting about via knowing my audience. CMS (Content Management Systems) is an important factor in all of this. Know your tools of your craft (or pay someone else to).
  5. Analytics: SMM or Social Media Marketing is all about knowing what your numbers are. This is categorized in so much. For instance, my IG: @Blaqueword holds a humble amount of followers. However, I can increase my range of likes and follows by applying posts at the time specific audience members interact. Most of my followers are from Columbus, OH and like Culturally mindful content on Fridays at 9 PM. So, I post those things at the exact time AND include hashtags to appeal to those groups! Starting off, this is difficult and requires a lot of base-setting. You’ll end up using random hashtags just to see which stick and which do not, but it is a necessary step, so if you’re self-concious about a step, feel free to delete and try again. After all, if you failed that means no one saw, right? (Wrong, god and Beyoncé saw, but they forgive you)
  6. Hire a Writer: Not a self-plug, though I do run several Social Media accounts for brands at a retainer fee. You need to know your medium well enough to pull this off and most of it involves proper writing technique. Writers thrive on social media because we can coordinate our thoughts for the platforms. If you can’t, it’s going to take a lot of footwork to get Followers to fall in. And, honestly, that means you’re depending solely on luck. Don’t do that. If you are incapable of reading trends and knowing what to say at the moment, you probably won’t get a tweet that sticks like grits. Take it from me, a man with 7 viral tweets under his belt, knowing when to say the right combination of words is key!

If this all sounds very business-like, welcome to Art: it’s 60% business. You just got to know how to play it to your advantage. If

Any more questions? Comment! I’m happy to answer.

Steven Underwood (@Blaqueword) is a writer from Columbus, Ohio, where he reigns supreme as the original Urban Bohemian. He received his Bachelor’s in English: Creative Writing and now wanders fiction shelves employing his academic powers to investigate where it says exactly that Black kids can’t be wizards.

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Luka Sabbat, We Need to Talk…

#TRENDSETTER, Art, Articles, Culture, Essays, Non-Fiction

Dear Luka Sabbat,

I am speaking directly to you.

No word limit.

No hashtags.

Luka Sabbat, you have had quite a career despite your age. You are the child of greatness and you walk circles of fashion and prestige that I have never dreamed of being able to even touch growing up in hovels where trauma and poverty was the only thing guaranteed to me. Yet, I still rooted for you, because you’re black, and because I know no matter the walk of life, we all have troubles.

Until, you opened the ashtray you call a mouth to talk down to the hatefully proclaimed “SJWs” and activists. Because, you’re so beyond all of these things that you can criticize them – that you can poke holes in their logic because you float on a plane of ascended philosophy where scrutiny is hobby of the low and uncultured.

You, my brother, with blood not too many generations free of the shackles of the same victimization these people you criticize face everyday they stand up for something, have the audacity to sit there with your pencil thin mustache and SCRUTINIZE the people you mock for scrutiny?

I’m not going to call you stupid.

Stupid people don’t get as far as you do – not without wealthy connections and family’s legacy to stand on top of; Stupid people don’t contribute immensely to philanthropic pursuits – unless they’re going to brag about it later for clout. Stupid people leap to defend abusers and present problematic antics as a hallmark of true vision; Stupid people speak without knowing what they want to say; stupid people are meek; stupid people are hypocrites; stupid people, foolish people, who seem to make it the furthest and get the highest platforms in their pointy leather boots (likely sewn by people who can’t even afford to feel how uncomfortable they are) don’t listen when people let them know WHY they do something: they just brag about how they’re going to make a video, eventually, explaining how THEY think, and how THEY feel, and how IMPORTANT they think they are.

Of course, because NOT EVERYONE IS A VICTIM.

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Luka Sabbat, you are not stupid. You are an idiot. A dilettante. An amateur in thought, theory and execution who got ahold of his parent’s soapbox and thought himself a Cicero! But, honey, Cicero was executed and he changed nothing, because he lacked Understanding. Luka, like him, you will fix nothing the way you are, and the way you think, and the way you carry yourself with utter repugnance. (By the time Cicero was discovered as “influential” his civilization was already dead).

Not Everyone is a Victim, Luka? And that’s why SJWs are wrong? And that’s what’s so heinous about our generation?

Erase your self-righteousness like you erase the allegations against your bros.

No, Luka. Not everyone is a victim, but most people have been victimized, and that’s why insensitive assholes who hype the foolish things you say, and Kanye said, and Trump perpetuates painted SJWs in such a brand.

No activist whom I have ever met has ever stopped at the internet. That’s because the internet is a tool to SHARE information, to experience new thoughts and then to test them in real life – dummy. But hey, you did only one semester of College before you realized anything you could get there your family already had, ain’t that right Mr. Fallback? Your co-star, Yara Shahidi, knows how formidable the internet is in inspiring people to make lasting decisions and choose to dedicate themselves to these issues and — so many rail against, abuse her, trash her as a SJW. I’m sure she feels your sympathies. A great woman, that Yara, and she will inspire many, through the internet, most likely.

Being an activist isn’t counter-culture anymore because you say so? Because you’re SOOOO counter culture? You peel my tuition off flings and hook-ups. What’s really good, my nigga?

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I see right through what you were doing here. Implying our struggles are done with because it’s not like how it “used to be”. And the “old days were better”. Bro, allusions are the tools of real artists, not the playthings of socialites. Keep it real, or keep it in your Balenciagas.

By the way, you’re out here criticizing the “fake” activists, as if they’re the ones who criticized you and your idols. It’s the real activists who be pounding the pavements who are on your ass, and the ass of your friends who do these terrible shit.

Yet, you persist on making it about how people are mean to you for speaking your mind. That it’s this PC culture and other Alt-Right buzzwords. That everyone is just so sensitive: WAH, WHY CANT I BE FRIENDS WITH A RAPIST?

WAH, WHY CAN’T KANYE WEST DISRESPECT AN ENTIRE GROUP OF MARGINALIZED PEOPLE?

WAH, WHY IS IT WHEN I SAY THINGS PEOPLE DISAGREE WITH THEY DON’T LIKE ME ANYMORE? IT’S LIKE PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO AGREE WITH ME BECAUSE THEY DISAGREE WITH ME!

(Bitch, you’re a little baby).

You complain about people being politically correct, and that it’s toxic and harmful to your humanity, when in reality, you’re just angry that no one wants to play in your playpen because you’re mean, and a bully, and no one wants to listen about how you saved those poor unfortunate black(er) people because you’re okay with sexual abuse and racial misconduct — NIGGA!

Grow up, Luka.

Be about more than your image you want people to care about.

Be about more than the echo chamber you squat and shit in and actually realize people are saying these things for other reasons than clout — unlike you.

Be about actually realizing where you stand in this culture and how your actions contradict your intentions.

Then, maybe the criticism you will mean nothing to you, because you know where you stand in the moral swing of things.

 

Steven Underwood

Bachelor’s of Arts in English

 

 

More of Luka’s poignant observations:

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#WAR: WHOM TO BLAME

Articles, Essays, Non-Fiction

By: Steven Underwood

In Columbus, there is a military stand at every College fair, at every job fair. Across the street, you hear about a Miss, or Mister whom has their homes and bills paid for by a noble son or daughter in the military. Advisors make suggestions to the middling student on how to afford college; athletes without the intellect to propel themselves academically into the D1 get a brochure for adventure.

Nothing talks about the pain and anguish that will be inflicted by them onto people whom look just like them.

The military is a billion-dollar enterprise and puppet of American greed. They swoop into foreign nations and flush them with violence and anguish until there is little to nothing that can save them from the monsters they eventually become after the are forced into the uniform and after they are forced out.

Image result for Army Recruitment

This is not to say there is no choice, but when the questionnaire is: A. You avoid the military and watch your family become swallowed by the persisting hopelessness of the city; B. Become consumed in the drug enterprise that is glamourized despite its entire market hinging on the poisoning of black and brown people (much like what they would be doing in the military) and risking the prison system; or C. Conforming to an organization that turns you into a weapon of people who are your enemy and promising a Hero’s journey in service of the government that has never protected them, you see that there is no choice at all. Any free will, makes you culpable in the downward spiral of your entire generation.

Recently, many leftist digital personalities have taken to bashing and wishing the extreme misfortunes of death, depravity and karma upon the poor. Some people are justifiably upset, victimized by the enterprises that have a stranglehold on the poor and exploits their economic disadvantages to harm everyone they’ve ever known. Others simply talk from a pedestal too high for them to see their own culpability in these military transgressions: how they’re upper-middle class suburban lives have swallowed programs, advantages and aid that the communities adjacent to them have starved without. I’ve seen these people every year in high school: they cross from the other side of the tracks – often for drugs – and dabble with the dark side.

Whatever the case is, I never think it’s a solution to focus on the mutual destruction of the lower class. That’s not very socialist, and therefore, that is not to the benefit of a disadvantaged group here, or across the seas. I won’t get into the arguments on compliance and force. I won’t get into the rhetoric of blame and target. Instead, I will get into the rhetoric of fact.

Fact: the Government chooses to fund the military over education and social reform programs.

Fact: the Government chooses to strategically place these programs and organizations that place the military pipeline between high school and economic liberty and expect its vacuum not to suck in the gullible naivety of 18 year olds.

Fact: the Government targets locations high in poverty, high in resources and high in such profound cultural dichotomies and western media propaganda over the last two decades that these exploited children can barely recognize if they will be battling people, or terrorists.

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In all honesty, I can admit that I have some culpability in turning a blind eye to the actions of the government and the exploitation of the poor in the military (Much like Ta-nahesis Coates, I do harbor a bias to Barrack Obama the person, and distinguish him as separate from Obama, the President). And I do blame some of these children – the young who enter the military to become hometown heroes, or to champion the imperialistic powers of the West; the middling students who refused to even attempt the other way out that didn’t include the pain of another: the people who knew they would be hurting others for their own wealth. (I may have subscribed to the institutional scam of Accademia, but I never picked up a gun in the name of the West). However, what I always do is encourage that focusing of power at destroying the root of an evil.

The root I so clearly sense is a government that is still stuck in the exploitation of others to create this construct of power that is incapable of being shared, without the poisoning of its lower half and the halves it cannot directly influence without anguish.

In all, toy soldiers execute a plan that a larger hand positions them to perform. Microcosmic actions always begin at the macro, as per the human constructs we subscribed to.

Backseat Driver

Art, Essays, Non-Fiction

By: Steven Underwood

Names have been censored to protect people, identities, and relationships

Some Men have these rides with one another that isn’t very fun, it’s always very hurtful, and it’s about doing your best to destroy the person closest to you, at the benefit of rising among a hierarchy that ultimately might not matter.

I participated in this while still in high school, and to this day I can’t imagine why. We were driving in the car up Demorest Road, a long street that connects you to the most important places in Columbus, Ohio. I’m in the back seat – neither my choice, nor the first time this weekend. See, this place – the back seat– is the most toxic environment in my circle. It’s where you’re forgotten and ignored and relatively useless to the overall direction of the evening. It’s where it’s whispered: “You should honestly just be happy we invited you, several of us didn’t want to.”

It’s a place I really should not have been, because the person driving the car was my best friend, B.

There is an unspoken truth to it: every man might have a circle, but every man also has a right hand. The dynamic between the two isn’t always equal – hell, the strongest side at the moment might even realize this, and will take advantage: hoping to keep the power on their side, lest they lose something important to their character. Yet, there is an agreement between the two: you will take care of your right hand, and your right hand will take care of you.

And still, I was in the back seat, and not by any insignificant act. I knew I was put there. I knew I had done something wrong in the eyes of the highest order of the hierarchy, and this was a punishment. Maybe in some group chat they were laughing at me; I already knew that in some conversations they were: I knew because I was told about it every time, and if I got upset, It would probably happen again, this time around someone I liked, next time maybe around people who could potentially like me. This was the rule of the hierarchy, because to them I didn’t bring anything to the table and I had no point to me outside of my relative loyalty.

B and I, lock eyes in his rear-view mirror. It’s for a moment, but I still see him smirk as he accelerates up the road. I try to figure out what I did wrong exactly, but I’m clueless. The car keeps moving, and I’m interrupted by a ringtone.

It’s another friend, a good friend. Someone more loyal than we deserve, and stronger than most of us gave credit too.

B quickly takes him off speaker for the conversation. I want to tell him to get off the phone. I don’t: we don’t die this time.

Our friend’s voice is stronger than the silence in the car without the music or the radio. “What are yall doing tonight?”

It’s very obvious: we’re going to eat, and going to a movie, likely to see our other friends – a crowd of girls who either have dated, will date or thought of dating every member of our circle.

B does that thing he does before he lies, before he convinces himself he is lying for everyone else’s benefit – that he is being selfless, instead of selfish. He smiles. Not a true, full smile, no, he shows his teeth and cocks the ends of his grin, like he is caught in a hesitant laugh. “Nothing. We just staying at my house tonight, for real, for real. Nah, it’s gonna be boring and my folks don’t want anybody else here. Talk to you, later.”

He hangs up the phone.

Noone laughs at M, but there is an energy of humor between all of them. I don’t feel it. I’m not in on the joke, because I’m observing and analyzing, and I feel more outside of the group, more outcast than the times I was the one on the otherside of the phone, hearing them lie to me and convincing myself I actually did not just get ditched, during a time I really needed the people who accepted the mantle of friend.

The Truth, like the sun, can never stay in the dark for too long before it rises. It elevated off my tongue and between my lips before I realize I had been with child my own ruin.

“Why did you just lie to him?”

The energy of humor dissipates, and suddenly I realize there are worse things to being outside of the joke. It’s being outside of the circle. They turn on me, quickly.

“I ain’t got the room in my car for him, Steven.”

It was odd to hear my whole name coming from him. I’ve long since learned to measure familiarity with how people use my name. When I’m good, useful and loved, I’m Steve. When I’m boring, broodish and antagonistic, I’m Steven. Coming from a friend, it shatters. After all, there’s so much difference in a letter when it’s said by someone you love.

I remain quiet the entire ride.

The next weekend, after a long week of classes and lunch room laughter, I find myself at home again. I call my friends, and conveniently, they’re all over our mutual friend, S’s house. They’re not doing anything tonight, and hang up the phone.

I open my phone and check the social media trifecta: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. On all three, I see the streetlights and stop signs behind a window. Someone else is in the backseat.

And despite the clear excuses your consciousness plucks from the river denial, you find yourself so sad you’re drowning in self-doubt and contempt.

There’s thoughts swirling about you that are dangerous to think and you’re stranded, alone. “Have I ever meant something to someone? Or has ever moment of care just been another rush to get me out of their hair?”

Men have this way of ostracizing each other worse than any other toxic environment because we often root ourselves in the domination of other creatures. For this reason, they build hierarchies. We compete with one another to rise in them. No one can be equal, and there’s always someone to be beaten or left out.

If you’re a B, you’re at the top because you learned to make yourself the top: by choosing people who live to love and love to nurture, and bleeding out the compassion from them until you’re floating in it.

We claim a bond between brothers is the purest form of love to exist next to that between a mother and child. That’s a lie. It’s maybe the most vindictive of relationships. The few times I’ve seen my friends cry, they followed up their behavior with decisions that derives on cruelty. Often, we know the things we do to each other, as men, are horrible, because we know we love each other; we know that if we lost the other person, it’d be a pain we couldn’t speak on; we know that romantic love isn’t sometimes the strongest love we can feel, because going forever without a girlfriend is reasonable, but going forever without the person who loved you despite never having to need you for anything is unrealistic.

And yet, men put each other, and our love for one another, into the backseat.

 

I Should’ve Talked Black

Articles, Essays, Non-Fiction

First Published Here at Bananago Street:

An analysis on racial discourse in America.

By Steven Underwood

As a kindergartner, I came clamoring home to share with my mother a stark belief: I did not like white people. In my adolescent ignorance, I had forgotten my best friend Dylan, who was not only white, but shared my love of imagined worlds of magical wonder, which I still cling to, and true compassion, which has since brittled with age. My mom took the time to remind me of Dylan, to which I replied: “I don’t like white people, but I like him.” I’ve always felt that this was my first direct confrontation with race. Earlier, just shy of ten years old, I had been called a “Nigger” for the first time in my life. I, essentially, had been beaten with a weapon forged against me to prosper.

Of course, I had experienced racial micro-aggressions in my life. That one time, when I was six, when my mom had been arrested by the police because they said she “looked” like she had stolen her Purple Ford Taurus. This other time, when I was seven, when a boy’s father snatched one of my white classmates away from me on the playground in South Jersey and muttered about nappy hair under his breath. I was expected to be the most coordinated in basketball, the fastest in football, but the dumbest in my Reading and Math classes. Or, when my mother cradled me in her arms for the first time, and decided to change my name from the ethnically unique Alante to the more Eurocentric Steven.

In an unnecessary justification of my childhood assailant, I’d say the boy—that boy– was using words he hadn’t completely understood, as children do. He merely knew that this word was designed with malice, that he could hurt me using it. He’d been taught that he had the privilege to hurt others with this weapon, a belief that was reinforced by my teachers, all of whom were white, because when I neglected to properly defend myself, or my culture, with words or actions he was not chastised or reprimanded. Rather than taking up the duty to correct him, this boy would assume that he could always get away with certain hate speech because something in this world made it okay.

I reflect on this day, with the new adult ignorance I have acquired by a decade of wandering aimlessly through life pretending I know what I am doing, and realize that my mother had taken the opportunity to establish my bigotry as inherently wrong and something that should be punished. She took my words and used them against me to show how my hatred and bigotry could effect not just me in the long run, but those I love. She taught me to be ashamed of my prejudices.

My teacher, however, was trusted by parents and administrators to cater to help raise a child and did not ever do the same. Though this event may seem something so minor that an infraction is not necessary, we must understand that the systems of oppression within the country are in the subconscious, the things that we experience, and beliefs that are reinforced by context and action—or lack thereof. Early on, my teacher was offered a chance to discuss race but fled it and failed both of us.

Throughout those subsequent months, spanning a dozen more collied moon phases, my mother had realized I was developing into a black man. She took the time to set me aside and made it clear to me what that meant. Yes, she disclosed I would have to find my own meaning of blackness (which, I chose to define as passion for who I am and respect for those who sacrificed and built for me to be here today), but there was the customary topics of fears, concerns, and troubles that one of a similar background as mine might expect with this: Steven, in a situation with the police your life comes first, and what’s right comes second; Steven, not all of them have your best interest at heart and will pursue you with despite; and Steven, you will always have to try twice as hard to have half of what they have.

I did not believe her. I always remembered Dylan and the impact he had on my life and that I had equally been bullied by black kids as well as white. In my young life, I had experienced the troubles of blackness in this country and knew very well that there was something strange occurring. It was this same instinctual sense that told the children who was the parental favorite, though mom and dad often said they love you all equally. But, more importantly than the white friends I’ve gained in my classes, I had reasonable doubt to my mother’s feelings regarding race in this country.

My mother’s name is Tamara Fluellen. Even now, almost a whole foot smaller than me, she feels taller than me—roughly five feet of honey skin and beautiful weave taller than me. She was the only black person in Willingboro High School in Willingboro, New Jersey and therefore often faced ridicule by her white classmates– as the other. In one particular event, she told me of the day her male classmates attempted to attack her after school. There was a mob of them, but none of them faced punishment for attacking her. Tamara Fluellen had been a victim of a hate crime and had seen the hideousness of anti-blackness in this country. Someone who experienced this kind of hate, could not possibly speak without bias. Someone who was victim to this kind of pain, could not possible understand the good in others when lost in the cold and dark.

Unfortunately, at every possible turn, my mother was proven right. I recall my father once saying every time my mom was infallibly right about something she said as a moral, a heifer lost its spots. I am still worried about the amount of cows in this country who must be absolutely albino.

Blackness is not as celebrated in this country as it should be, at least not unless it is whitewashed and bastardized. Often, it is Cinderella trapped in the cellar. It is she who maintains the beauty and glory of a household built by her ancestry but doesn’t reap any of the benefits. It survives but does not live. It eats but is not nourished. I often find that I cannot talk about my blackness and how I enjoy or love it without someone chiming in that their whiteness is somehow in contrast or conflict with it. That my pride in who I am and my heritage is an attack on their culture.

In my late teens, I’d already learned that black culture was one of the most vital things in America. It is literally American culture, as American as baseball and the apple pie the slaves cooked. To be American, you are required to enjoy something that has either been influenced by or was directly associated with black culture. Music, art, fashion, all of it had its root in African-American influence but are not ever required to value it or its impact or even favor its people. You can always be white and wear cornrows and box braids, listen to rap music, wear African tribal prints or wear black face, but the same cannot be said for actual black people—who originated this culture. We witness an imbalance in privilege so severe that the privilege makes the other edgy and unique when worn in bastardization and appropriation. Yet, this is still often disregarded as myth. “We are all human, and human culture cannot be appropriated.” Or essentially “Cultural appropriation isn’t real.”

Often, when I say “Black Live Matter,” someone must always chime in with “All Lives Matter” and completely derail an entire conversation that could have been productive. When I enter settings that are designed to embrace black beauty in contrast to white beauty standards propagated for almost 500 years, someone must step in and say “White girls do it better.” They see these attempts for “pro-blackness” and see “anti-whiteness” because privilege dictates that anything that isn’t the normative is an attack—much like how pro-white was always supported by white supremacy.

At a distance, I can still sense the awkward shift of my peers in their skins when a discussion on the topic is started and to that I recall my teacher, in her seat, refusing to acknowledge the child who attacked me in class or those men who attacked my mother, all of who went justified in their bigotry. Worst, I recall my own attempts to undermine my mother’s experiences merely because I felt that her pain blinded her to some assumed truth of the world.

This stigma that pain devalues the argument of oppressed bodies needs to die. We must acknowledge that there is a system of privileges—simple things like knowing your life is valued, that justice is absolutely guaranteed, that you will appear non-threatening enough to avoid death, your opinion is always necessary and that anywhere you go you will be free of racial prosecution or othered– set up in this country and anyone who is a victim of it is not a credible advocate for change is harmful to growth. We judge that because they cannot be entirely logical in a situation that they are wrong. As if logical arguments have led to a safer, more pleasant world.

Some of the most valid changes in history have been established not on logic but on emotion. Slavery, in some lights, was in fact the most logical method of exploitation to develop America into a superpower in just under 200 years. However, the most sensible argument provided against it was based on emotion. “These people may look different, but they are human and they experience pain. Abusing them, and harming them, in these ways are wrong both religiously and philosophically”. So, why is it that we feel that we can disregard the pain of black bodies as a reasonable argument to openly acknowledge racial privilege and systems of oppression in this country especially in a discussion on social and societal reform based on race?

Members of the black community have a lot of things to say about this. In the safety of homes, churches, and barbershops—safe zones– we’ve accumulated a number of arguments regarding why we are disbelieved. One theory is that at the end of the day we still seem different on some base-level. So we’ve had those niches of African-Americans who changed themselves to appear more white appealing—non-black spouses for mixed raced children, shunning “black” music, art and culture to appeal to whiter worlds– but they still aren’t believed. Some suggest it has something to do with respectability politics. They think maybe, if they look credible that they will be believed. They peacock in their suits, ties, and clean shaven haircuts cleaned of black curls and naps. They aren’t believed either. Some look to logos for their arguments, and dig deep into calm, calculated answers with strong evidence. They definitely aren’t believed and are in fact often shunned as “preachy”.

An impasse has developed along with an answer: because white privilege in itself describes a system of privileges that is experienced on a micro and macro-level it becomes harder to empathize. When another person has to come up with convoluted analogies about how blackness is experienced in this country and how whiteness benefits, it only further justifies the existence of that said thing.

When someone says it hurt like a wound, you are able to sympathize to an experience of pain you’ve have earlier in your life. When someone says they were hurt by the death of a loved one, everyone understands this profound sense of loss. When someone experiences heartbreak, it is one of the easiest intangible emotions to recall mentally. On the other hand, when I say that I was hurt by being called a Nigger, a Coon, a Thug, or how cultural appropriation affects me emotionally and spiritually, I am forced to paint a picture to justify my emotions and forcefully invoke empathy. I am then also forced to access my credibility on this, and then I am challenged logically. I have to work twice as hard to access a basic human empathy that says believe that I am in pain, and know that you have the ability to end it with just your actions.

A discussion is necessary for many of these stigmas and problems to be adjusted. Systematic Oppression and White Privilege were all built and subsequently woven into the state of imperialized countries with the understanding that it is subconscious and silent yet still obvious. I can’t help but think about what would have happened if my teacher had told that childhood enemy of mine that using those words were wrong and how it would have affected him. In many ways, it justified my blossoming perspective of blackness in this country. There might actually be more cows with spots in this world, if people were willing to discuss race openly—and respectfully to those who are at risk—and consider the idea that maybe they are at an unfair advantage.