Do you remember a few months ago when people were unfriending folks left and right because they found out their friends were Donald Trump supporters or über-conservative or even sometimes closet racists? Yeah, that never happened to me. In fact, I’ve only had to side-eye a few people because of their pseudo-support for Bill Cosby, but never to the point of unfriending people for their racist views.
In fact, I’m not sure anybody on my Facebook timeline has even expressed really racist views. Because I think that my timeline is too black. I’m not sure how many white people I follow on Facebook, but it surely is a very-minimum amount, which isn’t on purpose, but alas, such is my life.
There are no active racial debates. The only contentious debates that seem to happen on my timeline are relationship-centric because somebody writes some article and then, usually, some dude says that women need to be the ones doing x, y or z, and then all hell breaks loose and almost always, Brick kills a guy.
You know what does show up on my timeline? Every day? Another police shooting. Another interesting or funny meme. Some random fight from WorldStar. Discussions about the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. Notices about really black events happening that will largely include lots of black people doing or saying black things. Some article with the term “black” in the headline about what black folks aren’t doing, what white folks are doing or what black folks should be doing. Some story that explains blackness or why we shouldn’t have to explain blackness.
My timeline is Dead Mike from CB4.
Folks talking s—t about Serena Williams? It’s there. All things Yoncé? It’s there. Kanye West love and hate, LeBron love and hate?
How much we will all miss Obama? Swooning over the first family? Love for Sasha and Malia? Check. Check. And Check. X swagger on a hundred, thousand, trillion.
It’s also full of articles from news sources that I’m pretty sure are legit but feature stories that never show up on CNN or other traditional news media. I’m not saying that you people don’t read legit news; I’m just saying that my black-ass timeline includes a large number of news sites that I’ve never heard of before that clearly are doing the reporting on news that America isn’t talking about.
Also, my timeline is full of criticism of conservatives, though every so often a comment will show up questioning if we black people are a monolith and why we can’t have our own opinions about any number of topics, especially those political. Hillary Clinton vs. Bernie Sanders? My timeline is a Skittles-like explosion of articles and opinions on who we should choose and why. Though my timeline is extremely Sanders-centric.
Now, to be fair, I don’t find this to be a problem … so much. It’s the same issue I have with my Twitter, which is decidedly black as f—k. I know it is not representative of conversations that are happening outside of the blackosphere. Effectively, my timeline is one big-ass barbershop, and this isn’t a bad thing.
But sometimes I am curious about what is happening on the timelines of other people who have to unfriend people. What the hell are white and other nonblack people up in arms about? Case in point, on Sunday, President Obama made landfall in Cuba, as the first sitting president to do so in almost 90 years. This was a monumental event no matter where you fall on the Cuban political spectrum. I know for a fact, and because I read lots of articles all day long outside of Facebook, that a vast many people felt negatively about Obama’s trip. I understand why the opinions are split on Cuba, especially in Miami.
My timeline? Everybody’s gearing up to head to Cuba, and it was full of discussions about black Cubans and how excited everybody is about hopefully normalized relations with the tiny island. Plus, free Assata.
Now, there is a way that I could open up my timeline to some of this nonblackness that I am curious about on occasion. For one, I have two FB profiles: one for Panama Jackson, who is part of VerySmartBrothas.com and lends itself to lots of blackness all up and through this dancery. On the other side, though, is my FB page that utilizes my real name, which includes tons of my classmates who have no idea who Panama is from high school. In Alabama.
Now, it’s not to say that I would expect any of my high school classmates to be raging racists or anything; quite the contrary, actually. While my high school was in the great state of Alabama, we had some pretty solid race relations, despite the Confederate flags and paraphernalia that were plentiful. It is Alabama, after all.
I had plenty of white friends, and should I reach out to most of them, I would fully expect a friendly conversation to follow. But opinions are opinions and are shaped and molded by experiences large and small. So I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the folks I went to high school with did have some opinions that fell on the opposite end of the spectrum from mine, and possibly offensively so. Granted, I don’t begrudge anybody his or her opinions, but I also rarely go onto that FB page, for reasons. It also includes my white family members who might also have strong opinions that I’m not sure I want to know about. I like loving my family.
Now, it’s entirely possible that it’s all kumbaya and unicorn hugs, but maybe it isn’t.
Which leads me to living mostly on my possibly too black timeline. Again, there are times when I’d like to know what the other side is thinking, but I also know what websites to read for this purpose, so I guess it’s a minor inconvenience, like somebody double-parking in a spot really close to the entrance to a building when there’s an additional spot a few spaces over. Sure, I’m annoyed that you double-parked and cost me a close spot, but I’m trying to get my steps up on my Fitbit anyway.
I do think my page is too black, since I don’t know the life many folks lead where they have racists and malcontents and unsavory figures all over their pages, but I also suppose that’s not a bad thing. I’m just super abreast of the black conversation.
I guess my Facebook, like my president, is black.
There are worse problems to have.
Panama Jackson is the co-founder and senior editor of VerySmartBrothas.com. He lives in Washington, D.C., and believes the children are our future.