“It’s one thing when black people aren’t discussed in world history….. But when, even in the imaginary future – a space where the mind can stretch beyond the Milky Way to envision routine space travel, cuddly space animals, talking apes, and time machines – people can’t fathom a person of non-Euro descent a hundred years into the future, a cosmic foot has to be put down.” –Ytasha Womack
On Monday Night, a new trailer was released for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. One thing that immeadiatley stood out to fans of the Legendary franchise was the addition of black faces sprinkled throughout the cast, not as background props, but as main characters.
A vocal minority felt as though this new diverse cast was a sign of a white genocide and took to Twitter to express their outrage (Spoiler: There’s still a ton of white people in the movie)
Since Black Twitter is well versed in the art of dragging racist trolls, it didn’t take long before #BoycottStarWarsVII was flooded with people expressing their disgust at the hashtag. As a result, it seems like what caused the hashtag to become a trending topic were people actually speaking out against the boycott and racism, as opposed to other way around.
Racists trolls started #BoycottStarWarsVII because the lead characters in the movie are Black.
— Tariq Nasheed 🇺🇸 (@tariqnasheed) October 19, 2015
This is why afrofuturism is so important pic.twitter.com/x3sRuBeQaY
— ryrie irving (@_theghettomonk) October 19, 2015
This scenario is a plot that has played out dozens of times before. Black body transgresses social norm, racist trolls attacks in an attempt to uphold white supremacist ideology, Black Twitter comes to the rescue.
However, it is becoming increasingly common that individuals and media outlets are writing these incidents off as mere anomalies. There is a collective effort to write this off a “one or two” bad apples, as opposed to any legitimate issue. The fact that this particular hashtag was created by a couple of trolls on 4Chan provided a neat and convenient escape pod for people who want to act like this sort of thing doesn’t happen every couple of months, and doesn’t want to take it seriously. For instance, remember that time where racist trolls hurled ugly racist slurs at a black girl who dared to play Rue in the Hunger Games? Or that time when just the idea of Idris Elba playing James Bond was just too outlandish for the author of the series to wrap his head around because Elba was simply too street?
The truth of the matter is that the white imagination has a long way to go when it comes to how they perceive black bodies. For far too many people, black skin is more than a pigmentation, but a social marker that not only dictates how one should behave, but also where and when in time we’re even allowed to exist. When we just say, “Well, its only a couple of trolls. It’s no big deal”, we’re missing out of an opportunity to educate people and let them know that, yes, these issues still exist in 2015; which is precisely why we need to continue to push for even more representation in the media.