Earlier this year, I shared that I was no longer publicly posting YouTube videos. I mostly talked about the time investment that went into making them and the low payoff in the end. What I didn’t go into details about is all the “hate mail” I receive weekly from angry White men.
Sometimes I respond, sometimes I ignore them, and sometimes I just delete the comments. Either way, they are a constant source of annoyance. Apparently, I am the wrong colour to live the life they always dreamed of but can’t seem to attain. Even worse, I achieved this within a few years of arriving in the country they call home.
Most of the comments have come from one particular video. Not surprisingly, it was a video discussing my experiences as a Black person in small-town Wyoming.
Hilariously, I did not trash the state.
In fact, at the end of the video, I shared that I would rather be in Wyoming where the problem was racial ignorance vs. the Southeast where people are actually out to get you.
But, the angry White mob never made it that far. All they cared about was that I didn’t give this one town in the state a glowing review. Never mind that I had nothing but excellent things to say about Thermopolis and the rest of my time exploring Wyoming.
One guy actually started stalking my page. Every few weeks, he would leave another comment on a new video telling me what an awful person I was. At one point, when I shared that I had lost my property in Animas, he let me know I deserved it and it was my fault for being a sh!tty person. YouTube later deleted his comment.
One ignorant person made me “famous”.
About a month ago, I received one of those rare-ish mid-ground remarks. Essentially, a White guy commented to say he was sorry I had had those experiences in Wyoming. But, wasn’t it the same as when he entered predominantly non-White spaces and got weird looks?
I explained that no, it wasn’t the same. There is no parallel between a Black immigrant getting strange looks in a predominantly White rural area vs. a White person getting suspicious looks in a predominantly Mexican or Black hood. Why? Because he still occupies a place of general privilege that protects him and I do not. If you don’t understand why “reverse racism” is BS, check out my post on experiencing it myself in Mexico.
He informed me that privilege was fake news and that he would be sharing the video with his Black friend in Wyoming to see what he thought about it. He also told me that maybe I should travel more (hahahahahahahahah!) and that maybe if I did, I would feel less inclined to hold these very ignorant opinions. He later deleted some of his comments.
The one Black friend didn’t give him the response he expected.
A week or so later, I received another message on that video. This time, it was from a Black person who shared that they were born in Wyoming and could confirm the experiences I shared were true for them as well. He thanked me for calling attention to it and told me that he worked for a local radio station and had featured the video there.
I didn’t think much of it at first and didn’t even ask for a link. But, the next day, I received a Google Alert for my name on a Wyoming website. When I clicked on the link, I realized that the young man had not just shared my video. He had also given his own detailed thoughts on racism in Wyoming, publicly confirming that my experiences were not exaggerated or untrue because he experienced them too. He added that Wyoming had come a long way and that he felt confident more progress would follow.
I shared the link with my friend. His response was immediate.
Alex! That’s the largest radio station in Wyoming! This is a big deal!
We decided not to tell our friends and his family in Wyoming. He said it was such a big station that he was 100% sure they would see it. Within days, the messages and links started pouring in as our friends and his family got a whiff of the article. They were extremely supportive and continued to share the video and the links.
The tone momentarily changed in the video commentary.
For the first time, I actually started receiving positive comments on that video. Because of the hostility under that video, those comments usually come in via Instagram. People extended their apologies and offered to welcome me to Wyoming the next time I visited. It was a welcome change from the absolute bile I usually deal with. Hilariously, after checking back recently, I also noticed that some of the nasty comments I received over the past year were now gone―including one from the man that kept stalking my page.
Is it the end of YouTube hate mail? I doubt it. But, at the very least, it was nice to have another Black person validate my experiences. Someone with a trusted voice. Someone who, hilariously, the White folks thought would be squarely on their side. I admire his courage in seeing those nasty comments, including from his own colleague, and deciding that he would share his truth.
It only takes one voice to stir the pot. But, it takes solidarity to knock some sense into the numskulls we share America―and the rest of the planet―with.
Here is the link to the article. There are a few typos, but he’s a DJ, not a writer. Focus on the message. Feel free to share.