Loyal reader L wrote in to express her dismay at the comments under my post titled "Put 'Em On Blast: Rolling Out TV" (LINK):
I came across your blog today after looking up some info on an old musician. I decided to look at your current postings and saw all the beautiful Christmas photos. Then I saw that video. It was heartbreaking and hard to watch. I know people are supposed to be grateful for being given gifts when they can't afford to buy their own. But I can also see how this could be someone's breaking point, as you put it. Perhaps mommy really needed her children to believe that she and their community would provide that day.
There are women feeling like that all the time, and they react in all kinds of ways. They have my sympathy.
But that's not my real point. My heart really dropped when I realized that none of the commenters understood why you posted the video or why PBrown was so upset about what Rolling Out TV had done -- even though the letter accompanying the video was very explicit. No one read it. Or if they did no one cared about the point being made. Which to me means no one cared about the bigger harm done to the community and consumed the story as it was fed to them, as they are used to doing.
- Less than 3 minutes of a 7-hour event means this sister hardly destroyed it. This kind of problem can and does happen at any kind of event no matter what the background of the people involved. The black/self-loathing exhibited by the commenters was much more disheartening than the woman's tirade (I'm not going to call her ignorant. Who knows what she saw there. While I can't fault the sponsors because I wasn't there, often events like this are over-promoted and under-supplied so the real ignorance or lack of preparation could have been evident to her.) Of course there was a better way to handle her disappointment. And I hope that she learns that she's going to have to figure that out and use it if she ever finds herself that upset again, especially in public.
But that's not where the real harm to our community was done. No one had to see this. It wasn't important, it wasn't meaningful, it didn't teach anyone anything, it was less than 3 damn minutes, and no one got hurt. Why are people not seeing that a black news outlet (one of our few, for what it's worth) decided that this was news? I would hope that most people would have rather watched children play with their toys or dance or eat or whatever other wonderful things could have happened there. Or maybe interviews with the sponsors or the parents, ANYTHING but an angry woman upset about the lack of toys. I would hope, but I would be wrong. Clearly most people would rather find yet one more reason to not love and support our community. I believe that someday we will grow out of this cycle of self-hatred. I love black people enough to believe that will happen some day, so I'm going to move out of being disappointed in those comments and offer my love and sympathy to those brothers and sisters who haven't yet figured out how to give or receive that kind of compassion.
And yes, Rolling Out needs to do better than this.
Keep up the good work,