When White Bloggers Talk Black

Last week, writer, poet, activist, and blogger Olivia Cole, wrote this stunning takedown of the sci-fi thriller Lucy. Starring Scarlett Johansson, Cole highlights and criticizes the film’s subtle premise which suggests that human progress is exclusively embodied by a blonde-haired, blue-eyed white women.

Olivia Cole is a remarkable blogger who I’ve been following for awhile. In January, I stumbled across her blog, which featured a Freshly Pressed article about the Richard Sherman “thug” controversy. In it, she poignantly articulates how thug is essentially an appropriate way to dehumanize Black males.

A columnist for the Huffington Post, she’s penned a plethora of quality articles about race. Another exceptional example of her writing examined Forbes erroneous portrayal of Iggy Azalea as a revolutionary for women in hip hop. This piece, so pointed and correct in its criticisms, perfectly summed up my personal discomfort with the pedestal mega-media outlets were placing Iggy on. Cole’s article inspired my own, in which I detailed the gentrification of hip hop.

She’s also an author, writing Panther in the Hive, a sci-fi, coming of age tale, featuring a Black female as the lead protagonist.

Olivia A. Cole is one of my favorite bloggers. Her analyses of racial controversies are enlightening; a breath of fresh air in the era of quick media, where bloggers are more concerned with clicks and followers than they are with content.

She also happens to be white.

An exercise in survival, I’m usually skeptical of white bloggers who delve into racial commentary. For one, I often find a lack of understanding. Typically, when white bloggers talk race, they talk of singular, insular incidents; and not the larger context in which racism is placed. Furthermore, there’s little mention of institutionalized racism, or the ways in which racism plays out in today’s politically correct world. Peruse through Policy Mic for some examples.

Next, I find that some white bloggers opine for personal advancement, not social justice. There’s a tacit expectation of reward for amplifying the plight of the marginalized … and it’s this reward that gets them blogging in the first place. An atrocious example is this viral piece about the skinny white girl who had an existential crisis because a heavyset Black woman dared to do yoga. The white girl was a victim in her own tragedy, and projected her privilege and limited perspective onto others, resulting in a cosmically offensive article barely hidden by the guise of “Starbucks feminism.” (TM)

Yet, Olivia Cole avoids these stumbles. Her work is entirely selfless, and rife with context weaving history, politics, pop culture, and personal experience in 500 words. Cole is aware of her privilege, and recognizes that her skin affords her reach and leverage into the mainstream. She wields this power into crass articles that don’t shy away from obvious truths and realities.

Olivia Cole is a solid example of cross-racial dialogue. She’s one of the few white bloggers literate in racial language. Her phenomenal work inspires me, and I have no qualms saying that, even though I know her success is mired in white privilege. Although I sometimes resent that she’s able to offer crass and targeted words about race relations that I cannot (out of fear of being labeled an angry Black woman, reverse racist, or otherwise), I wholeheartedly and avidly agree with her sentiments that she articulates so beautifully.

As an independent blogger, she is my role model. Although I know my journey will vary from hers due to the nature of skin color and the consequences it brings, I stand in solidarity with her reflections and observations about race.

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Arielle Newton, Editor in Chief. Get at me @BlackMusings. Get at us @BlkMillennials


6 responses to “When White Bloggers Talk Black

  1. F*** Lucy and Hollywood…..yo, did anybody see the trailer for Gods and Kings?….LOL I swear I only see about 3 movies a year….this year it was Hidden Colors 3, and hopefully Dear White People and the new Hunger Games.


  2. You might be interested in the link to Tressie McMillim Cottom’s lecture http://wp.me/p28iGT-12E (yes it’s an hour long, but she’s funny, down to earth, as well as she intellectually kicks ass, so it’s worth the time) and she talks about institutionalized racism from an educational and jobs perspective and frames it in a specifically classist manner… she covers the internet as you are mentioning with likes and follows, and breaks things down in an enlightening manner. She thinks she leaves the audience a little without hope at the end, but I thought she was inspiring. Her students (she’s an intern working for a PhD in sociology) are lucky to have her. If you haven’t already discovered Tressie, Check her out. I think you’ll love her too. 🙂
    I used to read Olivia’s work. She’s fierce to say the least. 🙂 Peace to you and your work efforts.


      • Aw, you’re welcome for the info. Hope you find it useful to your own dynamic work. Well wishes and positive energy back. 🙂 And thanks for all the perspectives and voices you bring to the table in order to educate.


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