We can care about Solange and the Nigerian girls at the same time
I’m so tired and weary of the people who are currently guilting anyone who is sharing light news and celebrity scandal in the place of constant posts about #BringBackOurGirls.
Some people are all on Facebook and Twitter saying “WHY DO YOU CARE ABOUT SOLANGE WHEN 200 GIRLS ARE STILL MISSING IN NIGERIA?” and I am here to tell them to relax and go have a seat somewhere. It’s spring. Park benches are now available so people can go #OccupyaSeat.
Are we all so simple and basic that we only have the brain capacity to care about one thing at a time? We are not. Our brains are not Windows 95. We can keep more than one program going at once, and the assumption that our interest in the gist and gossip of Elevator-Gate makes us care less about the 300 girls who were kidnapped in Nigeria is pretty disrespectful.
We (well, *I*) haven’t forgotten about those girls. I’m still reading about new developments and hoping they make it home where they belong. I’m still scouring the interwebs for any new and reputable information I can find. Just because some of us are allowing ourselves to be distracted by fluff doesn’t mean we stopped giving a damn.
There’s a post that is being shared all over my Facebook newsfeed called “The 5 Shocking Jay Z & Solange Pictures You HAVE To See.” When you click through, it takes you to a story that uses the pics of the Boko Haram madness happening in Nigeria. Basically it’s the bait and switch technique, and it’s resting its laurels on the fact that we won’t click it if it had the particular subject matter.
It’s holier than thou and super wack. If someone doesn’t want to be exposed to the pics and information of the Boko Haram situation, this clickbait won’t force them to give a crap. The “A-HA I GOTCHU” technique of information-sharing is cheap because coercion is not a learning incentive.
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That post basically exists to make people feel bad for even giving the Solange-Jay-Z story any attention, as if we need to live in a world of absolutes. This ain’t dodgeball. Why do I have to pick a team?
What the people who are trying to make the rest of us feel some sort of way refuse to consider is that for some, the need to remove themselves from certain situations is a form of self-care. Especially when you feel helpless to fix or change whatever the crisis is. For others, we distance ourselves from it because of a need to laugh to cope with the desire to cry later. Either way, WE CAN CARE ABOUT TWO, FOUR, SIX THINGS AT ONCE! That’s why Jesus invented juggling. Get off our backs!
I implore folks to jump off the high horse they’re perched on and come ki-ki with the rest of us down here.
People love playing the “You Don’t Care” Olympic games even though they win no medals. They sign one more Change.org petition and they think they’re Malcolm X King Jr., and it happens after every major event or crisis, without fail. “How can you watch VH1 when there are starving kids with polio and ringworm on the south side of the west side of Africa?” Maybe it’s because I’m a fully-formed complex human being who is wired to multitask and multi-care.
I’m a writer, a feminist and an activist. I’m also Nigerian, so this situation with the kidnapped girls feels really close to home. I can show some receipts of the work I do in the social justice space (and I run a nonprofit organization too). However, I cannot wallow in the heartbreak of all the misery happening in the world. For me, it’s a matter of maintaining my sanity to be able to distance myself from injustice sometimes. Laughing re-energizes me so I can wake up tomorrow to keep fighting for the rights of women and girls and people of color and all that.
Do not assume that people making less noise means they’re doing less meaningful work. Do not think that you being loud equals you making impact. Sometimes it does, but they aren’t synonymous and can be very much mutually exclusive. Do not assume that because you’re seeing less posts about #BringBackOurGirls that people are forgetting those girls.
Congrats to those of you who can do nothing but post about the hashtag and the situation around it. Your contribution is appreciated ,and your ability to wallow in it will truly help bring the girls back. And please, sign one more petition that doesn’t really ask for anything specific, just “support.” Shade.
I will keep talking about the trivial gossip and pop culture randomness. It doesn’t make me any less an empathetic human being or any less well-informed on the important things happening around the globe. I can be shallow one day and inspiring the other. It makes me as versatile as a jean jacket.
Let’s empower each other to continue to pay attention without calling folks to the carpet on some self-righteous tip. Raising awareness about issues truly matters, and raising our voices is one part of it. However, temporary silence doesn’t mean permanent apathy.