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The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News



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Op-ed: Popular Black media platforms promote right-wing extremism 

Emma Liu


“All skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.” That is what we, Black people in America, are told: that not every other Black person is family, friend, associate or comrade, but rather your enemy and an agent of anti-blackness and white supremacy. 

I didn’t quite realize what the elders meant by this as I hadn’t yet reached my current state of racial consciousness and figured my biggest enemies were either the gossiping kids down the street or Michelle Obama for apparently ruining school lunch. But they were right. All skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.

Founded by Angelica Ndidi Nwandu, a Black woman, The Shade Room, or TSR, is a popular media platform offering the trendiest and most scandalous Black or pop cultural celebrity gossip, news and interviews. TSR takes the saying “all skinfolk ain’t kinfolk” to unprecedented levels. With a roughly 28.7 million following on Instagram, according to their official profile, The Shade Room uses its influence to propagate right-wing extremism and both disinform and misinform, creating a cesspool of anti-blackness and the endorsement of white supremacy within the Black community in something as simple and manageable as a comment section. 

In 2020, NBC News reported Zaya Wade, the 16-year-old daughter of former NBA player Dwayne Wade and  Black actress Gabrielle Union-Wade, had come out as transgender. In 2019, popular overnight sensation Lil Nas X came out as gay via a series of tweets promoting his latest song “C7osure,” asserted his pronouns – he/him and they/them – and continued to present himself authentically and fluidly. Continuous publications of both of these Black and queer public figures on TSR has allowed for unregulated comment sections riddled with inappropriate and degrading transphobic and homophobic rhetoric. And we must also remember the unsettling misogynoir, featurism and colorism Black female celebrities are subjected to in those comments sections. 

But The Shade Room’s manipulation knows no bounds, as its latest and most discussed act of tyranny continues to misinform the community using the very cunning and unfortunately common tactic of clickbaiting. In early August, the New York Times reported wildfires spreading throughout Hawaii, taking nearly a 100  lives and leaving many others without shelter or safety, demanding the need for government aid. It was then announced that President Joe Biden would disperse one-time payments of $700 per household to Maui residents who were affected by the wildfires. The Shade Room, as always, was quick to run the story. But that wasn’t the whole story: in fact it wasn’t even close. The Shade Room failed to mention the additional aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, in the form of tens of thousands of meals, liters of water and bedding, according to an official FEMA press release. 

Naturally, the comment section was occupied with anti-Biden remarks. Some questioned the integrity and dependability of Biden as president, comparing what they’d been led to believe about the crisis relief aid for Maui residents to the substantial aid sent to Ukraine amidst a war, while others completely asserted their allegiance to former Republican president Donald Trump.

It was evident that very few commenters had actually read a credible article. It was also evident that The Shade Room had taken advantage of that very fact in the midst of the former president and Republican extremist’s reelection campaign.

So, this isn’t just a simple mistake of misinterpretation, error or confusion. It is a calculated and timely scheme of misinforming Black folk to the very philosophical and political system that devalues, disparages and steals their identity. And although many are realizing and speaking out against the disservice and deception TSR does to the community, like young TikToker, Joshua Joseph, or @jwilliamj, who has publicly held TSR accountable for its harmful agenda setting, a great number of Black folk still use The Shade Room as their immediate source of information, ultimately hindering social awareness and racial enlightenment. 

Black people, like every other demographic of people, are not a monolith. Sameness does not exist in any community and cannot be expected to exist in this community. I realize this. I realize that an individual’s worldview is shaped by many aspects of society — geography, financial status, religion — and inevitably creates contrasting political and social perspectives. But it would be foolish to say that this is just about opinion, but rather the deliberate manipulation and exploitation of the colonialist brainwashing, forced assimilation, fear and educational disparities plaguing Black people everywhere for financial gain. 

I fear where this path leads — a regressed community playing puppet and puppeteer by our very own. As unnerving as it sounds, we could become the very thing we fear. But alas, it is as what the elders said, all my skinfolk ain’t my kinfolk. 

Jarriah Cockhren is a third year student studying interaction design and journalism. She can be reached at [email protected]

About the Contributor
Emma Liu
Emma Liu, Deputy Design Editor
Emma Liu is a second-year behavioral neuroscience and design major. She is currently working as the deputy design editor for The News. Originally from Philadelphia, Emma loves to collect sonny angels, volunteer at local orgs and find good food in her free time.
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