I’m sure you all have seen the video circulating that depicts a black man/white woman interracial couple and what happens when said couple goes to a barbershop. In short, a black hairdresser “hates on” the couple.
The video is similar to those What Would You Do? videos ABC is known for, and the camera crew interrupts the faux “racial discrimination” scene in the process and pose questions to those who challenged the hairdresser on her opinions.
The barber shop performance of mock racism is beguiling in that no actual racism takes place outside of what is scripted by the producers. (Now in my opinion no racism takes place at all; no, not even the comments of the acting hairdresser. But I’m going to avoid semantics and continue my argument). Instead, numerous Black patrons of the barber shop were quick to defend the white actress doing a familiar performance of timidity, or they mind their business. These Black people exhibited a familiar level of hospitableness. One Black woman levels with the actress with respect and kindness and negotiates a truce between the women she does not know are hired actors. This makes me question the utility of this skit altogether. The only disreputable Black woman was the fictitious one the producers thought up. What is the precedent for the scenario they designed? Why depict a phony case of racial bias, except to perform a reinforcement of the ideology of post-race and remind us of how we should be “moving on.”
At the centre of the drama is an actress who plays a thoughtless, tactless Black woman who is unable to make sense of her objections toward the meek white protagonist who plays the willing victim. Why do the producers choose to make a caricature of what are complex feelings for some Black women? Why didn’t the producers create a script that more closely reflects that many of us, as Black women, are unconcerned by individual Black men dating individual white women. That we sometimes divulge our sensitivities for what feels like a growing estrangement between ourselves and Black men, and interracial couples can be an apparent signifier of that. The actress could have articulated, for example, that as a result of this estrangement Black men express their resentment, and sometimes hatred, of Black women as pillow talk with their white partners. That when this comes full circle back to us (as anecdotes from white women we acquaint ourselves with, or as a threat from the women who pine for Black men exclusively and want to knock a sister out of the running) it hurts and hinders interracial friendships between us as women.
I’m glad I caught this essay dissecting the video. What say you about the video and the essay?