The older I get, the more open I am to share the parts of my personal journey but haven’t always been good or easy.
Growing up and being a part of many predominantly white spaces I struggled in my journey as a Black child, a Black teen, and as a Black woman.
There are parts and phases throughout my life in which being black just felt embarrassing or uncool. I had an emo kid phase, a scene kid phase and probably many more phases in which I looked up to some unfavorable characters for guidance. Recently, I’ve been elbows deep in the beauty YouTube drama that’s happening right now. SEFFREE Jtarr and Dhane Sawson, WATI Testbrook and Cames Jharles — all of them are getting dragged left and right for being racially insensitive, turning a blind eye to racism or being overtly racist themselves.
I specifically want to talk about Seffrey Jtarr and Dhane Sawson.
I was in the seventh grade the first time I laid eyes on Seffree Jtarr. As a kid I used to get in so much trouble for trying to wear makeup. I would wait until my mom was out of her room, at work or even asleep to slide into her little plastic makeup drawers. Always got caught but I never stop trying. I was on Myspace when I was introduced to Seffrey Jtarr, I took one look at all of that makeup, that art, and fell in love instantly.
Between the make up, music and the constant stream of merch at hot topic I was all in.
Aside from all of the pretty parts of Seffrey Jtarr’s online persona at the time, I also liked that he just didn’t care about anything or what anyone might say about him. He’d say the wildest things and as an 8th grader I’d think “wow, look at that confidence”.
Flash forward to 2020 and he’s being dragged for being a racist as well as a ton of other things. What’s messed up to me is that there’s a part of my brain that knew I was uncomfortable with some of his actions but overlooked it because of issues I had within myself at the time. (I also want to give Kristianna the teenager grace for not always realizing or understanding that certain things he was saying were as bad as they were.)
I was in my early years of high school when I first started watching Dhane Sawson on YouTube. To keep things short and sweet, I sat front row to his racist Shenanae videos for years but I also had never been taught about blackface until I was damn near an adult.
This for me is all very complicated.
I knew that at some point his jokes had become tiring, not as funny and sometimes highly uncomfortable and at some point, I naturally stopped watching. When I look back, I just wish someone had spoken to me about how harmful that kind of content was but I never really told anyone I was watching it.
Ps. It almost feels like every white influencer/celebrity I followed as a child is actually a racist. The little black girl in me cringes.
I heard an argument today to the effect of “regardless of if a person is problematic or not, a good product is a good product. What the person does in their personal time is their business and we need to learn how to separate the person from their business”
I couldn’t disagree with this more.
Not to bring up the predators of the past but every time I hear Step In The Name Of Love in the far distance of my neighborhood, I can’t help but ask “what is wrong with people?” *side eye*
In my opinion, there is no way to ethically disregard a person’s true feelings or actions (that are disgraceful) while supporting them financially.
I feel bad for those who are innocently working under such hateful people, brands and corporations.
Over the years I have had moments of forgiveness towards some of my old problematic faves. I believe that with time can come change.
The lesson here is: TALK IS CHEAP
I stopped financially supporting both Seffrey Jtarr and Dhane Sawson years ago but currently, they just feel like the very tip of the extremely racist iceberg. You just never know how anyone truly feels.
Jackie Aina has been using her platform lately to call out and call in those who need to make changes. I’m grateful for that.
I recently discovered in the last couple of days a woman named Nabela on Instagram. Her family is from Bangladesh and she speaks on the worker mistreatment there and the companies we LOVE that are underpaying them.
I am a labor activist so naturally she caught my attention because I don’t play that.
She recently put up a video informing the public that another one of our favorite fashion brands is now selling swastikas on their website. It just never stops.
There are so many black and brown owned brands out right now that it almost feels ridiculous that we keep chasing behind brands that don’t value people of color the way that they value our money. At the same time, it’s incredibly important that we continue this fight. We need to continue to put pressure on brands because they have so much power, influence, and means to keep moving in this unethical fashion with or without our help or critique.
Ps. They also have the power to continue to oppress the black and brown folks who work for them, if any work for them at all. With the new Pull Up for Change campaign we are getting to see just how many of us hold space at these companies and that is another topic for another day.
*another darn side eye*
While we are calling out, calling in, and downright canceling some of these companies,
what are you doing with your products?
In my opinion, I think you should continue to use them.
I don’t think we have to continue to promote them or tell anyone to buy items from these companies. I also don’t think it’s necessary to be wasteful. I’m a beauty and makeup girl with really small pockets at the moment. It would be really bad on me to dump all of my hard-earned money in the trash in some sort of revenge against whatever company. I’m not going to do that.
Instead, I’ll use what I have until I hit pan and then that will be that.