Way back in May 2017, a local blogger named Frank wrote about “Why so many blacks in ads?” I signed up for the comments to his post, and they were numerous. And usually awful. I wrote a reply piece, which generated some bigoted responses.
But not nearly as many as the original post did. And DOES. More than a dozen in 2021 alone. One Anonymous respondent posted: “Did you ever imagine you would create a hate magnet? I’m not saying you are a hater. You asked a reasonable question. But very few replies even attempt to answer the question. They just come here to post hate.”
Another one wrote: “Oh yeah, I am going to print this to a .PDF file and start distributing it on-line every week to the major White Supremacist web sites. Don’t worry, you’ll get full credit. You can try to block me, but as long as this is up I’ll use it. Thanks in advance. Did you realize that there is 137 pages of this racist gold?”
To which, the blogger replied: “Yes, Anonymous, I was trying to seriously discuss an actual question, and was stunned at the volume of comments — far more than on any of my other 1000+ blog posts in 12+ years — with practically all the comments embodying the crudest of race hate. What gets me is how these people actually think they represent a ‘superior’ race when their comments prove they themselves are the inferior ones.
Backlash of fear
I should note that I know Frank in passing and I do believe he was asking an honest question. Even at the time, I thought the query was naive, and that the responses would reflect the venom that exists out there. Still, it has been instructive, sometimes painfully so.
But I think that the premise of the question is fuzzy. There are data on Statista. “During a June 2020 survey conducted among adults in the United States, it was found that 17 percent of responding Hispanics said that they never saw anybody who represented their racial or ethnic background in advertising. The same was true for 10 percent of White and African American survey participants.”
Assuming the accuracy of the perception, it seems that some people are seeing a demographic eclipse. A majority is becoming a minority. And “the fundamental dividing line… is between those who welcome and those who fear the way America is changing.”
I understand that change can be scary, difficult, annoying. Negotiating change feels treacherous, especially if you’re on social media. But it can also be therapeutic. I’ve noticed that in my own circle of friends and churchmates, there are a lot of “aha!” moments. The things they didn’t understand or had never heard of.
I remain cautiously optimistic about the human condition, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.