Week in Review: A Nigerian Buttigieg Supporter, and Recognizing Minority Creators

Welcome back, I know OI has been quiet of late thanks to putting the finishing touches on my latest novel, The Spectacular Seraphim Versus the Fame Monster (available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle). The other half of it is that after the hiatus, there’s been so. much. going on.

First, I want to start with something gloriously happy that took place amid a relatively somber NBA All Star weekend replete with memories of Kobe Bryant: Jalaiah Harmon was invited to perform a dance she created, Renegade, which has since achieved the kind of viral success in the hands on other social media creators with no nod or credit to her creation until now.

There’s a lot that can be said about this in the age of social media virality: there’s the argument that a dance like this is a template that other creators are free to leverage, but one must acknowledge appropriation and that it is a bit of theft not to credit artists from whom you’re taking. In this case, the NBA got one right and gave a young woman her time to shine for her achievement of creating something that had a cultural moment.

Before you accuse me of reaching with the mention of appropriation, it’s noted in the article above that Harmon was a late invitation to the show, and the NBA originally had white TikTok “sensations” who have rocketed in popularity in part due to their copying her dance. Also, TikTok itself is a strange evolution from Vine, a platform which was notably rich with people of color creating humorous and viral content that people still reference years after its shutdown.

All in all, it’s wonderful seeing a young woman get recognized for her creativity, and even more so that it includes this conversation and acknowledgement of respecting creators. Well done, NBA.

The All Star festivities of the NBA were a nice break from the usual deluge of news that occupies every other avenue of social media these days. Are you keeping up with the news on politics since we’re now in an election year? How about just the comings and goings of the Democratic primary? It’s a lot. For one thing, there’s the challenge of what media there is available to consume. In some cases there’s a dearth of media attention and unjustified lack of coverage that amounts to outright erasure for Elizabeth Warren:

Even if you wanted news on her campaign and policies, you’re shit outta luck, which is a shame. It’s baffling to think about, but really needs to be noticed and understood by us average media consumers: it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of news constantly being barraged at us, but we have to consider that the gatekeepers of these outlets are making decisions of what to include in that deluge and sometimes more importantly: what to exclude.

On Sunday, February 16, journalists around the country paused to determine if a Twitter account that belongs to a Nigerian man was actually Lis Smith, Buttigieg’s Communications Adviser, posing as a foreign supporter of the Mayor. I’m not linking to the article: see above. Amid this deluge of “drama” around a Twitter account was the constant thrum of hunger for each person to have the funniest joke or find the smoking bullet that proved Chinedu was actually Smith all along.

These are our gatekeepers, ladies and gentlemen. Buttigieg doesn’t have support from minority voters, and there’s plenty else to be said about the justification for that lack of support in his track record and his clumsy attempts at outreach thus far. At the risk of sounding defeatist: we’re in 2016 all over again and getting buried in spectacle rather than demanding substance. Warren’s lack of coverage may be due to that: she’s a substantive candidate: she speaks in real terms of plans, intentions, and ideas, but we’re too busy gobbling up the spectacle.

I enjoy a good funny tweet as much as the next person, but when it comes to what we’re following in political news? Give your clicks to stories and coverage that matters. News outlets are amoral. They’re businesses. They’ll put out the content that keeps getting clicks, so give your clicks to better news. The Kent State gun girl (no, not linking to anything about her), has a platform and sponsorship entirely because even if she’s reviled there are thousands of people following her, reading her tweets, and watching her videos.

Here’s the dirty secret: advertisers don’t care if you’re watching out of love or hate, you’re still seeing that Monsanto ad regardless.

Your clicks are your power and you’re better off clicking on wonderful people like Harmon above than chasing the high of watching Gun Girl making dumb arguments, or reading in depth exposes of Twitter Burner account conspiracies. Consume responsibly friends.

Author: Y. Balloo

Amateur novelist / Work in progress.

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