Even while quarantined, white people just can’t stop being racist

OPINION: A viral TikTok video shows us that white supremacy remains more contagious than COVID-19

(Photo: TikTok)

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate the world around us, Black people once again face the brunt of such hardship, both institutionally and now socially.

Even in the middle of a global healthcare crisis, blatant racism still can’t seem to take a break. Africans in China are facing mass discrimination in public spaces, including restaurants. Matters have gotten worse to the point that McDonald’s had to temporarily shut down a location in Guangzhou, China to “further educate managers and employees on our values, which includes serving all members of the communities in which we operate.”

READ MORE: Activist pleads for African nation to welcome Blacks airlifted out of China

Here in the United States, some white people are using their time during quarantine to just be racist as a way to pass the time.

Last Thursday, two white high school students from Carrollton, Georgia posted a viral video on the social media app TikTok mocking the elements of “making ni**ers.”

READ MORE: Georgia high school students expelled over racist TikTok

In the cringeworthy 50-second clip, the couple pours a cup of water of ingredients they label as “Don’t have a dad,” “rob people,” “black,” and “go to jail” over a piece of paper in their sink labeled “ni**ers.” As another bit of shade, and adding further insult to injury, the pair makes it a point to have the cup empty when it’s labeled “Make good choices.”

Oh, the irony.

It didn’t take long before Black Twitter and its allies gave this pair of young racists the desperate attention they were seeking, with such backlash leading them to be expelled from their school district.

“The racist behavior observed in the video easily violates this standard,” said Dr. Mark Albertus, City School District superintendent in a statement. “They are no longer students at Carrollton High School.”

How are you going to get expelled on your day off? Where do they do that at?

I wish I could say this was an isolated incident, but it appears to be several others jumping on this trend of posting racist TikTok videos for clout. A quick browse in the Twitter search engine under “racist TikTok” and you can find several problematic AF clips mostly done by white teenagers perpetuating all kinds of hurtful stereotypes and slurs about people of color.

READ MORE: Olympian is target of racial slurs during USA Fencing Zoom chat

The kids ain’t alright. Where are their parents?

Even outside of TikTok, white teens are finding other ways to racially torment Black people. The latest virtual racist phenomenon is known as “Zoombombing” which has led to white people hijacking the Zoom meetings and chats of people of color and disrupting them with verbal racial slurs and threats. Recently, Tiara Moore, the chair of WOC Space, had her Zoom chat hacked by racists harassing her group during a safe space session.

Perhaps one of their parents was the white woman who made it a point to compliment me on my facial mask at the store last week and then thought it was okay to note how “not as scary if it was a bandana or something.” We are in the middle of a damn pandemic and white folks are still finding ways to concern themselves with respectability politics and fragility.

I wish I could say I’m surprised by any of this, but I’m just convinced that racism is more contagious and incurable than COVID-19 and the only way we can get through this is by guarding our own joy and protecting ourselves.

If that means telling Karen at the grocery store to fall back (and give you social distancing) when microaggressions are being made toward you or just blocking racist content on your social media newsfeed — do what’s best for you during this time.

I’ve made it a point to not argue with trolls and have asked my followers to not tag me to viewing traumatic/problematic content online as well.

The most important thing Black people can do right now is to protect ourselves not just from COVID-19, but from the added racism that comes from it.


Ernest Owens is the Writer at Large of Philadelphia magazine and CEO of Ernest Media Empire, LLC. The award-winning journalist has written for The New York Times, NBC News, USA Today and several other major publications. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and ernestowens.com.