Friday, July 11, 2014

The "Daquan" Meme: It Shouldn't Be Funny

I don't find the "Daquan" meme funny at all. Basically, it's a meme created by Black Twitter that stereotypes the "hood" Black guy who exclusively dates upper middle class white girls.

Daquan is a pedophile, a money launderer (with the assistance of his white girlfriend), obsessed with sex, a rapist ("he let the whole squad hit"). He also shuns education. Supports violence. And is only concerned with making money (illegally) and being a rapper.

Although the meme is Black created, the "Daquan" persona is most certainly white created. And all of these memes are a joke on Black men. Particularly, the non-Black made ones that have been created since the meme has gone viral. It directly plays into the idea that Black men are especially misogynist, dangerous, lazy and manipulative, and sex crazed.

In this sense the meme didn't go viral because it's new and original. It went viral because it's very old and familiar albeit brought to the new-ish sphere of memes and social media. The "Daquan" persona is quite literally a twenty-first century articulation of how Black men have always been perceived. And not just "hood" or poor Black men. But all Black men.

Maybe I'd find it more funny if I weren't so knowledgeable about how these myths of Black male inferiority have been used to justify centuries of oppression and abuse.

Lynching, a far too common occurrence even up to the twentieth century, was justified by the "Daquan" image. Except in that context it wasn't a laughing matter. White supremacists invented an image of dangerous and slothful Black men who were sex crazed and obsessed with white women. And this prevailing image gave credence to the extrajudicial violent murders of hundreds of Black folks.

Maybe Black Twitter is not familiar with this aspect of their history. But by embracing this very dangerous stereotype and turning it into a meme certainly nothing positive can come from that. And we have to consider: is laughing at ourselves worth it if we're contributing to the maintenance of oppressive images... against ourselves?

Are we so bereft in our comedic capacity that the only jokes we have are ones that are on us? A plethora of comedians such as Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle would beg to differ.

Some might argue in defense of the meme that Daquan's really exist. To that I say: sure, men exist who are lazy and violent and sex obsessed and extremely misogynist. And they're of all different races and ethnic backgrounds. But clearly, this meme is saying something much more specific than that. It's saying that this is the norm for Black men. That this is all they amount to. All they are worth.

Personally, I don't know any Daquan's because Daquan is a hyperbolic stereotype comfortably placed in our cultural imagination due to centuries of white supremacy.

Prevailing images prevent Black men from being viewed as intelligent, caring, and ambitious. They aren't viewed as being able to think with their heads and not just their body parts.

I don't find a thing about that funny.

I find it to be a misrepresentation of who Black men really are. And moreover I find it dangerous. In a time where Black men are still routinely attacked by police, random white people who think they are the police, and everybody in between we have to be more socially responsible.

Or at least we should be.

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1 comment:

  1. I think its a case where many black people think this is just a funny poke a stereotypes and believe that many of the white people that look at these memes are laughing with us instead of at us. I see a lot of my friends post these memes on facebook and while they know that these memes speak for just a small percent of black folks a lot of them don't realize that the majority of white people take these memes to heart. Its not a laughing matter and with the amount of black hatred I have been seeing lately in my city alone I think its time that we shun these types of portrayal of our people and make a firm stand against it.