Tweeters too quick to cry ‘racism’


Graphic by Rachel Buigas-Lopez.

By Sakshi Venkatraman
Staff Writer

In America, it is a known fact, that even 50 years after the movements for civil rights, racism is still rampant on the streets of even the most diverse cities. Each day, people are put down and categorized unfairly because of the color of their skin; I can attest to this, having been in the position several times.

However, it seems to be becoming a common trend to cry ‘racism’ at a situation when there is no racism occurring.

For example, Taylor Swift recently released the music video for her new single, “Shake It Off”. Since then, the 24-year-old

Graphic by Rachel Buigas-Lopez.
Graphic by Rachel Buigas-Lopez.

actress/singer has been bashed on social media as critics claim the video contains material that is racially stereotypical.

These claims have sparked a Twitter-based debate over whether or not the singer meant hostility towards any race.

Accusers claim the “Shake It Off” video’s depiction of all black dancers in one scene was a “slap in the face” to African-Americans and the perpetuation of the stereotype that all black women twerk and dance provocatively.

The hatred shown towards the singer on social media escalated so much, the director of the “Shake It Off” video, Mark Romanek, was forced to responded.

“We simply choose styles of dance that we thought would be popular and amusing and cast the best dancers that were presented to us without much regard to race or ethnicity,” Romanek told Vulture magazine.

He also reminded the public to remember the satirical nature of the piece and the fact that it used “a whole range of music-video tropes and clichés and stereotypes”.

While watching Swift’s video, I was actually quite satisfied with the way she promoted self acceptance and happiness, and I had to rewatch it a couple of times to determine exactly what these tweets were talking about.

In “Shake It Off”, Swift promotes an attitude of facing bad situations with grace and positivity, something that we can all learn from, and I can only hope that she herself is “shaking off” these outrageous claims against her.

Two months prior to the release of the “Shake It Off” video, 20-year-old singer Meghan Trainor also released a video for her hit song “All About That Base”. The song is supposed to be about self-love and accepting one’s body no matter what shape or size.

The positive message of the song was promptly contradicted when Trainor sang a lyric targeting and shaming the bodies of thin women. Although her message was spoken and directly insulting, Trainor didn’t receive nearly as much attention for it as Swift did for her “indirect attack on black women”.

Other singers, like Nicki Minaj and Beyonce, regularly feature all black dance groups in their videos and get no pushback from the media whatsoever. So what is the difference between them and Taylor Swift? I can only think of one; her skin color.

Critics are suddenly becoming very quick to play the race card, but if the same video had featured only white dancers, Swift would surely have received an equal amount of backlash for racial exclusiveness. A virus like this on social media is indeed a double edged sword.

What bothers me about these situations is the nature with which issues regarding alleged racism always rise to the top like cream (no matter how ridiculous or unsupported), while issues with more solid evidence seem to sit at the bottom of the pot, waiting for the cream to be cleared before they are addressed.

To clarify, there are racial issues that are 100 percent real, and that are actually taking a toll on people’s lives. Swift’s dancers, and the supposed targets of her stereotype, at the end of the day, still received fat paychecks, while other member of our own country are suffering from joblessness, facing hatred and living unhappily because of their ethnic background or the way they look.

Although it sounds condescending, it must be stated: there are real problems in this world, real racial problems, and we are amusing ourselves with these “issues”, that we have created ourselves, that are really minute in comparison.

As a woman of color, I know what stereotyping feels like. And the fact that society is starting to play the race card at every little thing feels like a slap in the face to the members of society experiencing the harsh realities of these situations.

Soon, when a real situation regarding racial hatred or stereotyping arises, people will regard it the same way as they are now starting to regard Swift’s supposed stereotyping: as a ridiculous accusation made by bored people looking for drama to scream about.