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UPDATE: I posted the original open letter on my old Tumblr blog and thought that would be the end of it. Apparently, I have discovered new evidence that may indicate how Facebook racially targets its users, so I have tweaked my old entry a bit. Grant it, this might just be conjecture, but it seems way too coincidental. Also, since Facebook has publicly apologized for allowing “humorous” anecdotes about violence against women on its platform, it’s a damn good time to point out to them that they have to take the racist blinders off too. Plus, I have a snapshot of the ad in question! Have no fear; it’s still laden with all of its snarky and mallet-correcting goodness. So, Ladies and Gentlemen, cis and trans, I present to you my updated rant:

Dear Facebook,

Today was just like any other work day. I came in relatively on time; logged on to my computer; and began to respond to the assigned tasks that were sent to me by my employers. During the course of the day, like the millions of white-collared 9 to 5ers do, I logged onto Facebook to check on statuses, updates, and the like floating around in my lovely nerd miasma. While scrolling through the proclamations of love for all things scienc-y, geeky and socially progressive, I stumbled upon a personal ad that you placed in my newsfeed which very clearly stated that the social network which prides itself as being an intermediary for individual expression has no idea who the fuck I am:

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Look, I understand how target marketing works. I understand why target marketing works. I understand why there are more Foot Lockers in Rogers Park than Wrigleyville; and why there are more bike shops in Lakeview than Lawndale. The sad fact of the matter is that American society has, overall, become prone to marginalization, and American companies are thereby capitalizing on this marginalization. That being said, what I don’t understand, is how you let this ad reeking of racist, sexist, and homophobic implications appear on my newsfeed when you only had the following facts to work with:

  • I’m black;

  • I’m a woman;

  • I have black family members and friends;

  • They comment on my status updates;
  • My relationship status is unlisted

Now, I’m going to take time out of my already busy schedule to educate you on all of the wrongs that you committed by posting this ad on my feed, because you clearly listened to Tyler Perry and decided on what I wanted for me instead of taking the time to scroll through my personal information and figuring it out for yourself.

Why It’s Racist

When you “assume”, you make an “ass” out of “u” and “me”. By posting this ad on my feed, you assumed that I would only be looking for black men; that I would NEVER, EVER entertain the radical idea of *GASP* dating outside of my ethnicity! OH NO, BRER BEAR! NOT INTERRACIAL DATING! What would the Founding Fathers think?!! Oh wait…

One of the drawbacks that heterosexual African American (cis)women face in the dating world is that many of them still think that it’s taboo to date “outside their race”. Karyn Langhorne Folan wrote an amazing and insightful book on the trials and tribulations that heterosexual African American (cis)women face in finding love because old racial wives’ tales perpetuate this stigma of looking for love outside of “our own”.  While she can only speak for herself, and her account is biased in many aspects, Ms. Folan does bring to light a serious socio-romantic problem that many heterosexual African American (cis)women face due to the macrocosmic inability to understand this simple concept: the color of your skin does not dictate the content of your character or your capability as a romantic partner. By placing this ad on my newsfeed, you are perpetuating years of social and racial stigma, and are thus limiting my options in looking for the one thing for which all humans undoubtedly search: love.

(And although it’s none of your business, no, I am not single; no, he is not black; and, yes, I will give you a couple of seconds to recoup from your fainting spell at that radical revelation).

Why It’s Sexist

If any of the negative implications screamed the loudest, it was this one. How DARE you imply that black women are generally unfaithful?! How DARE you imply that black women are generally licentious, manipulative and/or back-biting?! How DARE you imply that black women are generally not worthy of a good person’s time and affection?! How DARE you imply that black women are a commodity to be bartered for to other black men?! Are you taking dating ad tips from old 18th century southern plantation journals?! I’m being serious here. I want to know if you got a piece of romantic advice from Jefferson Davis because that is the ONLY thing that could possibly make sense.

Do I even want to touch on the fantastical ideals of what men and women should be that were lambasted all through this ad? You know what? I do. Do you know what the biggest detriment to any relationship is? It’s getting mad at your partner because he/she/zucchini is not who you envisioned him/her/zucchini to be. We have a massive problem in our society wherein we try to squeeze ourselves and others into this Patriarchal ideal of how men and women should be instead of being who we are and seeing our partners how they actually are. (If you’re wondering why I left the genderqueer population out of that statement, it’s because the Patriarchy doesn’t recognize the genderqueer demographic as an actual and growing percentage of the population. To the Patriarchy, the genderqueer population is full of boys and girls who haven’t grown out of the “playing dress up” stage). By sticking to this horribly restrictive fantasy, we are cheating ourselves out of being able to see our partners, and thus being able to truly love them.

By posting this ad on my newsfeed, you basically told me that I need to forget everything that makes me the (cis)woman that I am today, so I can reshape, reconfigure, redesign myself into some sort of Beyonce Knowles Carter knock-off in order to get that better-than-perfect black man to love me because who could possibly love me as I am at this minute?

I mean, that’s my ultimate goal as an African American woman, right? Because you’re Facebook, and you know everything about all of your members, so you would clearly have a better idea of who I am and what I want than I do.

Why It’s Homophobic

Where the hell do you get off assuming that I’m even straight?? Where in ANYTHING that I have posted since joining your establishment in 2005 has told you, “This woman likes dick! She won’t consider anything else! It’s all dick-all day for this lovely lady!”

Look, the population of African American women who are gay/bi/a/pan/omnisexual may not be increasing at the same rates as Caucasian men or women, but it is not a population to be discounted, ignored, or mistreated. I stumbled across this shout out to African American women of various sexual orientations, and I was reminded that a small group of people fighting for a better tomorrow are indeed the ones with the most profound voices.

So, where does all of this leave you and I, Facebook? Perhaps this rant was all for naught; perhaps you’ll block me from access to my page; perhaps I’ll transfer my wares to another social medium. Or, perhaps, you’ll learn the importance of reading all of the information that you strip from our pages on the day-to-day and finally understand that we users are not here to appease your prejudicial ad targeting.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Cross

aka Not Your Expectation

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