We all know that the power of white a woman’s tears knows no bounds, however are those tears grand enough to time-travel and rewrite the course of digital history?
This is the question that folks, mostly black and on Twitter (I have an issue with “Black Twitter” but that is a story for another day), have been grappling with since “ABC’s Nightline” ran a report last night on the woman behind the international social media effort to raise awareness about the missing schoolgirls in Nigeria, particularly the popularity of the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.
It seems that Nightline is all sorts of infatuated with the latest Hollywood trend, considering all the celebrities including Michelle Obama, are retweeting this hashtag now. And you know, maybe the news organization might want to report on the actual story behind the hashtag. Or maybe not.
At any rate, they featured this woman as the originator of the hashtag. Her name is Ramaa Mosley and she is a movie director. You might have seen her film called The Brass Teapot. Or you might not have seen it. But according to Rebecca Jarvis with Nightline, “For weeks, the girls were missing with little attention paid outside of Nigeria – until this woman [cuts to Mosley on a cellphone and sitting in front of her MacBook] noticed a small news item.”
Mosley further elaborates on her great contribution to society to ABC News:
“I went on Twitter and Facebook to see if anybody was talking about it and people were not talking about it. There are a few people, who mentioned it that are Nigerian and were posting about it. Other than that, nobody in the United States or in Europe had made any calls.”
I like how she flippantly dismisses the power of the Nigerian cross-continental massive on both Facebook and on Twitter as just “a few people.” Among those “few people” are some pretty notable and connected figures including Dr. Obiageli “Oby” Ezekwesili, who according to her Wikipedia page, is a former Vice President of the World Bank for Africa and former Nigerian Education Minister . She is also the creator of the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag, which she has been tweeting out daily to her 127 thousand followers (some of whom are Westerners in the United States and in Europe, or even fellow Africans themselves, now living in the black Diaspora, who might have Twitter accounts with non-African friends too).
We have known for years, white women have a mysterious elixir vitae hidden within their tear ducts,which, when sparked by the presence of full-on savior mode, will dispense into each droplet a smidgen of sunshine-spewing puppies, cotton-candy rainbows and Jesus’ healing blood. But now it seems that we have unlocked a new level to the power of white women’s tears, which now has a new enough momentum to turn back the hands of time, and rewrite some shit, including hashtags and social media movements.
This is truly huge news. A modern breakthrough in physics and technology. Way more important than those missing black girls. Why, with this news, the possibilities of revisionist history are endless: colonialism. Slavery. Hell we might be able to rewrite Biggie and Tupac’s tragic ending into a wonderful tale of how a white woman came along, ended the East/West coast beef and got the two rappers to pass the statewide standardized test, thus saving their public schools from closure. The sky is the white woman’s limit. Thankfully, Mosley was around to go into full white woman-crusader action or else nobody else with Internet access would have known about the missing girls.
And with the power of Greyskull behind her, she was able to leak those magical white woman tears all over her computer keypad, which then seeped into the mainframe, causing pandemonium with the interceptors and turbo-encabulator and eventually a shift in the space-time pendulum, which enabled ghostly apparitions of Mosley to penetrate the Matrix, beat the crap out of Agent Smith one good time and transfer all the anguish that was embedded into the tears genetic code onto a status update, which magically changed the world for good. And on the seventh day, she dried those heavenly tears and rested.
Or she likely just retweeted somebody else. But that’s not what she tells ABC News. More specifically:
“Mosley said that she decided to transform her initial feeling of powerlessness into action. She thought about getting on a plane to Chibok, Nigeria, where the students were kidnapped, but her 11-year-old daughter begged her not to go out of concern for her mother’s safety.
“She asked me to try to think of a way to help from here,” Mosley said. “I decided what I would do is that I would put out a call on social media.”
But Mosley, a director of commercials and documentaries, did not have much personal experience with social media. She had heard her daughter use the word “hashtag,” but she did not even really understand what it meant.
“I thought it was sort of a phrase that young people use,” she said. “Then I realized recently that a hashtag is like a call. It’s like a call out to the world and it’s also an amalgamation so you can pull together information, put that information in and get information back.”
Mosley knew that mothers in Nigeria were chanting, “Bring back our girls,” at protests, and she had seen it used on Twitter, so she decided to take to social media herself.
“I started shouting it to Barack Obama, my senators in California, to any celebrity that I could think of,” she said, “and within a few hours, I started getting responses.”
Honestly, it just gets more ridiculous from there including Mosley gushing over the Facebook page she created under the same appropriated hashtag (which at the time of published had around 40k likes but has since exploded with each news story about her alleged founding) and how the hashtag has been tweeted over 800,000 times, a credit Nightline gives exclusively to Mosley. Also, Mosley ends the interview, doing what white women do best: crying more white women tears.
Put aside the obvious appropriation, does she really think for one hot-ass minute that her single retweet of somebody else’s was that impactful, particularly in a continued wave of public cries from across the digital hemisphere, not only under the marquee of #BringBackOurGirls but also #BringBackOurDaughters, #RescueOurDaughter, #BlackGirlsMatter, #NigerianGirlsMatter, etc..? I have to say that is some pretty impressive narcissism.
And maybe Mosley is just truly naïve. Honestly, the entire story sounds, and reads, like someone really confused by how the Internet, particularly Twitter works. And maybe Mosley exists in a giant plastic bubble, down in a hole in middle Earth, where her neighbor is Smeagol and Gollum and the only contact she has with the rest of the above Earth world is through the statically low-frequency transmission of NPR radio, but I certainly would have expected Nightline to do some actual fact-checking.
And it is not just the ABC News department, as other outlets including Wolf Blitzer on CNN who have christened Mosley as the originator of the social media campaign. Some folks might think that in the grand scheme of things, this is all trivial, particularly when the goal is for all of us to raise awareness. But how much of this story about Mosley’s “hashtag activism” is actually on the missing girls? If you ask me, this is just a perfect example of how black women and girls find themselves cloaked in invisibility and their stories go ignored by mass media in the first place.