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This Comedian Is Playing the Race Card, But That’s The Point

The parallel universe Clare Brown creates on TikTok, just like the one we reside in, is basically guided by privilege and power. Except in this placeconstructed in videos written and directed by Brown, who also plays all of the charactersthe social hierarchy is ordered entirely from the Black gaze.

In her brilliant and disruptive videos, Black people run the boardrooms and newsrooms, and white people (here, theyre wryly referred to as European Americans) go on the fringes of society as people without color (PWOC). NY is New Nigeria, Nat Turner is celebrated rather than Robert E. Lee, and the Cleveland Colonizers and Washington Whiteskins are popular sports teams.

In these inversions of mainstream cultural markers, Brown challenges how rarely society interrogates Eurocentrism. Her dialogue, written entirely in microaggressions, underscores how racism doesnt just manifest as violent acts: The casual cases of bigotry in everyday conversations, which are designed to assert dominance over marginalized people, are what Brown recognizes as death by way of a thousand cuts.

Theres a universal misunderstanding of the term microaggression, since it makes it look like we should become more worried about big or real aggressions, Brown told VICE. I needed showing that the impact is definitely catastrophic for the individual receiving it.

Browns videos lean in to the term European American, a phrase rarely if used in true to life, regardless of the ubiquity of terms like African American and Asian American. The genius of Browns videos is they examine ownership of Americana by treating whiteness because the other. In a single skit, she addresses Eurocentric beauty standards, playing a hair stylist who charges extra to create straight hair because its too difficult to utilize. In another, she laughs at a depiction of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Christ: Thats not Jesus! Would you imagine? In these exchanges, she often speaks right to the viewer as if shes addressing a white woman called Megan, whose name is often mispronounced as Margin, as though she was an unofficial spokesperson on her behalf entire raceeven as she actually is often silenced and gaslighted.

Since creating these vignettes, Brown said shes gotten an influx of DMs from European Americans who see themselves or their family in the language she presents as humor. Although her videos can be viewed as anti-racist work, Brown is clear about her market. I make these videos for Black women, because we often get people telling us weren’t pretty or smart enough, she said. Its very important to me showing camaraderie and validity to those experiences. Youre not wrong. Youre just surviving in the upside-down. VICE spoke with the TikTok creator about how exactly she makes her videos to place things back perspective.

VICE: What inspired one to start this series?

Clare Brown: I started it on a whim about half a year after George Floyds murder. What followed online was that there have been plenty of white people saying things such as, That is crazy. I had no idea things such as this happened. Then, you’d the Black community sharing their experiences and saying, This happens at all times. Microaggressions are little instances that slowly build to why we accept this degree of public violence toward Black people.

Were often offered types of racism from white producers and directors doing films that focus on a white audience. What we see have become literal types of racism from the 1950s and 60s: You cant use that bathroom, and a white savior swoops in and saves your day. The racism is performed.

The Black community, or really that of anybody of color, knows thats definitely not true. Racism is baked in to the way that people speak, interact, and maneuver around in to the world. I didnt believe that white people would understand it unless these were at the biggest market of what it feels as though and what it appears like.

These skits largely go on TikTok, which may be an extremely weird place for Black creators. Did you obtain plenty of pushback for the reason that space?

I’ve gotten banned twice. I believe Ive been the victim of individuals mass reporting me quietly, where I havent had the opportunity to create for weekly or two, but surprisingly, I havent gotten any visual pushback. I try very difficult to create every video something Ive experienced, seen, or heard. I make an effort to present my videos in a manner that you cannot ignore. There is absolutely no room for argument, because Im saying things just about everyone has heard.

I get a lot more pushback on Instagram, probably because its a mature audience, but its plenty of older, white men that are deeply upset by my videos. The argument is normally what we have a tendency to hear: You’re racist for drawing focus on racism. By discussing your experience, youre the one who is racist.

You mentioned that a lot of of the are pulled from personal experiences. Is it possible to share what your upbringing was like? You have an outlet to talk about those experiences now, but how did you deal with microaggressions then?

My dad was in the Navy, so we moved every 2 yrs, also it really depended on where we were living. The schools I visited were usually very white, and our peers and individuals inside our community were also very white. Surviving in the south in the 90s, plenty of Black families were the first ever to take action: I was told, You’re the initial little Black girl that weve had in this class. In middle school, I was 1 of 2 Black people in the complete school. I’ve these notebooks of items that were thought to me throughout my entire life. I look at those and make videos predicated on those situations, because I’ve had so many experiences where I was the only real person of color, period, for miles. When I moved to Harlem after grad school, my pal group was virtually everyone of color, but I was employed in an all-white setting then, too.

I rarely experienced the overt racism that you see in the films where people throw drinks you because youre Black. It had been always just bubbling beneath the surface.

Im fluent in coded racism, which explains why its hard for folks to deny what I say in my own videos. I speak that language, because its what Ive always heard. For white visitors to hear it spoken back again to them is nearly like, Oh, they know.

Its your dog whistle, but nonetheless blatant, which calls back again to the theory that Black folks are intellectually inferior or not perceptive people.

Exactly. We realize what this means to utilize words like traditional or all-American. They are all phrases that perpetuate white supremacy. Racism doesnt need to be pulling people out of these house and lynching them. What maintains white supremacy in a society? Microaggressions and language are in the foundation of this. My hope is that my page shows what Black folks have been attempting to say: We inherently reside in a white supremacist society, and everything we do reinforces that in a few waydown to just how we speak.

How did the microaggressions you experienced differ from school to the workplace? Harlem is obviously not the same as the rural south, however the corporate world can be completely different from Harlem.

A lot of the really hurtful microaggressions I ever experienced happened in school. Kindergarten to 12th grade was trial by fire. When I worked in Manhattan, the town was filled up with liberals who have been desperate to be observed as wokebut I worked in the wonder industry. The complete idea of our brand was to uphold white supremacy. Youd hear things such as, Does that model have the proper search for the brand? People werent touching my hair, however they still operated in an area that was designed for them. My videos reflect being within an environment thats not designed for you and what it feels as though when you make an effort to rebel against that.

I ran across your videos simultaneously that everyone began discussing microaggressions going on in this year of YOUR GOVERNMENT, where in fact the entire house is attacking Taylor Hale for existing. The members are terrified to be regarded as racist, but continue steadily to allow it manifest inside your home.

I really do believe, for a white person, being called racist may be the worst thing that may eventually younot necessarily committing a racist act. To instruct white children never to see color would be to not teach them to look at differences and acknowledge that everyone includes a different lived experience.

Black folks are constantly discussing race and how exactly we match society predicated on race. What Ive learned from achieving this series is just how much white folks are in a position to exist without ever pressing an individual of color.

When you begin using words like ethnic or diverse to speak about a thing that is white, you obtain this friction.

Its the theory that whatever is established by someone white is European or tribal and exotic. You are feeling the strain of what it feels as though to be otherized or perhaps a monolith once you undertake a society where everything isn’t defaulted for you.

Just how long does it take one to flip locations that people rarely interrogate, because of conditioning, and flip it to another reality?

Shortly. We accept NY as York from England. I find places, usually in West Africa, to totally strip Europe from the narrative. Our heroes will be people like Nat Turner, individuals who fought for the freedom of Black people no matter what.

People rebel on that and say, Oh, but he killed little kids. But he was a hero. We accept likely to Robert E. Lee SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL and being Rebels. Nowadays, we head to Nat Turner High, and were the Freedom Fighters. We ignore that a lot of of the white heroes were horrible men who committed horrible human rights atrocities. Were exactly like, Thats fine.

You raised Margin earlier. How can you develop her as a character despite the fact that she doesnt have a face or any lines?

I needed to produce a character who felt nearly the same as myself. Shes a PWOC (an individual without color) in an area where everyone who has power is really a person of color. She began in an effort to discuss work microaggressions, but I started considering what it could appear to be if she started pushing back. I needed showing how fruitless those efforts will be. How quickly they might always break apart. How immediately she’d be silenced, and how quickly the default would be to think about the majoritys feelings and thoughts.

People ask should they will ever meet Margin. I dont think Id ever give her a face and a voice. People would naturally center her being the white woman you empathize with in the problem, because thats what youve been conditioned to accomplish. I get comments that folks are needs to feel harmful to Margin. Can you feel harmful to the only real Black girl in your workplace? Most likely not. Youre most likely not even considering her.

Folks are laughing within my videos because its so absurd to call someone an individual without color. Its so absurd to call someone a European American. Its absurd, because white folks are so far taken off needing to experience what we do at all times.

Kristin Corry is really a senior staff writer for VICE.

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