I have to write this because it’s purely upsetting and an example of modern racism. The kind of subtle racism or what i call “creeping racism” that black men face, even by people who say they’re that person’s friend.
In this case, I’m almost 3,000 miles away from San Francisco, and thus missing an event I’ve covered with my own media brand and approach for the last three years.
A friend of mine was handling press sign up for the event, and so I worked out what I thought was a clear understanding that that person would have designated people who work for that person sign up to be vloggers on my YouTube Channel.
So, we, myself and the designated people (whom I have met many times before) have a phone talk about how my media system works. So far, so good. I am quite clear in giving instructions. First, I wanted the smartphone held horizontally not vertically. Second, the idea is to livestream the experience of the event in real time, not so much a specific occurrence.
I also explained to the designated people that once a livestream is made on my system, it goes everywhere in seconds, and you can’t go and call back or easily take down the images. What I got bac in our talk was “Yeah. We get it. We use Facebook live.” I had to explain, this is not Facebook live and it’s not one platform, but many coordinated ones, and assembled by me. It’s taken some years for me to get the system to work.
I then explained that one of my friends was in Gaza for the “2018 Gaza border protests,” and made a cool livestream that, with my system, became the top news under “Gaza Protests” for about a day. I was stoked about the power of what I worked to build and wanted to make sure they understood what they were dealing with. I had the feeling they were not hearing me, just shining me on.
So, we made a livestream and that went out as I said. Then, one of the designated people asks that I take down what was done! After what I took pains to explain! I said “no” – that can’t happen and it’s all over the place and that was why I took great pains to explain the system. I panicked because I though the stream was removed by that person, as well, and feared broken links all over the place. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.
So, they told me they would make livestreams through the weekend. So, I got just two that next day, and waited and waited. I figured someone would ping me to let me know they were getting started. I was excited and told others about the arrangement, and because I’m trying to raise money to grow my company around this media approach.
So, I sent a text asking what was happening, and then another one to my so-called friend. Instead, I got back words about sending photos from the event after it happened. Nothing about our agreement. Finally, I pressed and asked what happened? I texted one of the designated people, and asked in a clear, professional way, what happened. No feedback.
So, finally, I get an unbelivable call from my so-called and now former friend saying that I yelled at her designated people, and that they were scared to work with me! And I’m 3,000 miles away pn a phone, and we had one talk, and did not need to have another one!
My simple response via text was that I was tired of what I call “creeping racism” or “subtle racism”: the act of a person being nice on the surface, but all of the time holding very clear stereotyped race and sex bias against you.
So, you can be an African American media tech entrepreneur that’s 3,000 miles away giving instructions to people you know and have met many times, but in the end your presentation becomes just another example of a scary black guy. Forget what they said they were going to do – they lied to me and employed creeping racism to justify their actions.
And rather than my so-called and now former friend defending me and reminding them of our agreement, that person’s the one who calls and reflects to me their insecurities – which, really, are that person’s as well. So, here I cut off the designated persons from my YouTube Channel, and never once called them, or want to, yet my so-called friend sends a text saying “Don’t call my people.” I sent a text back that said “Stop making up a lie. I don’t even want to talk to you, let alone them.”
Unbelievable? Yes. Sad? Very. But my Mom called it – she had the whole deal figured out before I did. For some reason, I have gained some people in my life who were never really friends, and all of the time had issues with me that are based on race and sex.
Other people, generally white, have the freedom of establishing relationships that lead to tech media companies like Bleacher Report or The Athletic. Or BuzzFeed What I do I get? Some good people, to be sure, but some relationships hallmarked by creeping racism.
I dare say I’m the only black man in tech out there who’s experienced this.
I had to blog about it. I’m tired of it. It’s got to stop.
In closing, I have to thank those who have vlogged on my channel and not done that, and understand and support what I’m trying to build. They’re awesome.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media