I remember when George Zimmerman was acquitted for the murder of Trayvon Martin, and everyone was in an uproar, in public, and on social media. Soon after, I started noticing numerous tweets and posts circulating on my timeline from people who have gained a large following. Their popularity is based off their social and political views, speaking out against injustice, and sometimes defending those in the spotlight who became victims of racism and sexism in the public eye and in the entertainment industry. I followed a few of them, and to be honest, I gravitate to some because of their views on the state of our country and what we need to do to resolve these issues...or so I thought. There were a few who talked a good game and came off as believable, but as time went on, I and many others saw their flaws. By flaws, I mean deep rooted misogyny, sexism, colorism, bullying, and faux activism.
My first experience with these social media activists was this guy who went by the name, Yao Khari. His twitter profile was very much about black power, being a black militant, and HBCUs. At first, I was inspired by his tweets and agreed with most of what he said. Over time, I found myself disagreeing with him more and more. While I continued to follow him, I noticed that he had an odd obsession with his female followers, that was my first red flag. He started making sexual tweets and even tweeted about how different HBCUs should host sex parties and orgies. He would then cover up by tweeting mediocre sex liberal logics and answers.
The second red flag was when news broke that African American students at University of Missouri (Mizzou) were victims of racist threats and taunting and some school officials didn’t take the threats seriously. Instead of trying to alleviate the situation, Yao decided to take to Twitter to tell students at Mizzou that they deserved the threats they received because they didn’t decide to attend an HBCU. A few days later, he also tried to explain that Martese Johnson wouldn’t have been a victim of police brutality if he had gone to an HBCU (mind you, he went to school in Virginia but the incident happened off-campus. How did he come up with that conclusion, I don’t know).
The last and final red flag were when Yao tried to say that Tyra Banks was less of a black woman because she had a child with a white man and that she let the black community. Now at this point, I really start to think this man...excuse...boy was trolling, so I asked him, “why does it matter?”. He responded saying it does matter and that I was attacking his character and proceeded to block. I’m attacking his character...because I asked why does it matter if Tyra Banks has a baby with a white man...yeah this dude sounds dumb. Fortunately, him blocking me on Twitter opened the door for me to find out his true colors.
After tweeting about Yaori blocking me, a few people contacted me on Twitter explaining how they had the same problem with him. One twitter user introduced me to how problematic he is by leading me to the hashtag #BlockOutYao. From there I learned so much about him. I learned that not only did he lie about his educational background, but he was using his pro-black, pro-HBCU platform to have sex with underaged girls and harass women into sexual acts including sending sexually explicit pictures. Although he has been called out on twitter (and still is), Twitter has done nothing, and Yao Khari made another account, still preying on young girls. Yao’s use of the “stay woke” trend to harass women is problematic, but what’s even more problematic is that there are many other men (and sometimes women) like him.
There are a lot of people who have a large social media following and claim to be “activist”, yet their actions say something completely different. After people have found out about Yao, many other social media figures have been called out hypocrisy and problematic statements and activity. Jeffree Star, a cross-dressing make-up artist, rose to fame thanks to his MySpace popularity but has been rapidly losing his fan base due to his racist tweets and cyberbullying. Walter Lee Hampton, a gay YouTube vlogger who rants about the LGBT community, has been confronted by others about his internalized homophobia, racism, and was even confronted by Derek J at a panel discussion in Atlanta. Earlier this summer, black women took to Facebook to call out social activist Ashley Markell Santinac for using his activist platform to extort money from his female followers. Screenshots of his monetary exchanges were later leaked to Facebook and since then his Facebook account has been deleted.
I’m certain that before the summer is over, another popular social media activist will be called out or put on blast for their hypocrisy and degrading comments, but before that happens, I think we need to take preventative steps so that this doesn’t happen.
We need to stop putting these social media activists on a pedestal.
Plain and simple.
Sure most of them talk a good game, and they may seem genuine in their actions and fight for the cause, but behind the keyboard and the “likes” and “shares” they receive, most of them aren’t as high and mighty as they like for others to appear. Like any social media star, most social media activists often have no family, friends, or social circle outside of the internet (which is why most of them spend a good amount of time online), have a disturbing past, have mental issues, have issues with socializing with people, or they seek attention on the internet because they don’t have stability and security in most or all aspects of their life. If you don’t fit their standard of what being an “activist” or what being “woke” is, or if disagree with them, they will start making personal attacks, blocking you, and so will their followers, but they're supposed to be about “unity” and “uplifting the community” right?
The information and messages you find with these social media activists, you can find in much more positive and credible people. You can find these messages in people who are doing the research, doing the work in the communities, and with the people, you care about. If you truly care your people and your community, look into people who don’t just talk about, but who truly embody it.
At this point of the social justice movement, the number of people who are noticing the lies and hollow views of these activists is increasing rapidly. Social media users aren’t falling for generic quotes and recycled logic that you can find on Tumblr. The days of looking for the next Shaun King or DeRay are over because no one’s paying attention anymore. We, myself included, don’t need the teaching of a false Facebook status to teach us what we already know; and that is to love, respect, and build our people and our community, for all it is worth. To be honest, half of these “woke” people on social media are nothing but bitter internet trolls taking their anger out on others because they haven’t come to term with the fact Tyrone made fun of them in the 3rd grade. With that being said, black people, buy those Jordan’s, black women, wear whatever weave you want...those ashy hoteps are going to fade away in a few years anyway.