Hunger Game Fans’ Racist Tweets: The Devaluation Of Black Children On Screen & In Real Life

With the vicious smear campaign launched against Trayvon Martin, the savage beating death of an Iraqi-American mother of five, killed in her own home by someone who left a note labeling her a “terrorist” and demanding she “go home,” and repeated assaults by anonymous cowards leaving hateful, obscenity-laced comments on MyBrownBaby posts, I really wasn’t ready to read, much less post, about the racist rants “fans” of the hit film, “The Hunger Games,” spread all over Twitter earlier this week after they found out two of the main characters are black.

Nevermind that author Suzanne Collins’ trilogy clearly describes characters Rue and Thresh as having “dark brown skin”; apparently, the very sight of the adorable Amandla Stenberg as Rue, the stunning Dayo Okeniyl as Thresh and the deliciously beautiful Lenny Kravitz as Cinna (whose skin color is not described in the book but is clearly played by a black man in the film) inspired these hate-filled diatribes, spotted by the Tumblr blog, Hunger Game Tweets:

Deep deep DEEP sigh. This ish right here? This ish right here? Made my damn head numb.

So now the mere sight of brown skin, even in a damn movie, incites people to show their ugly hearts? To publicly express absolute disgust with people of color? To so callously and cavalierly say, out loud and for public record on the internet, how much they hate human life if it comes wrapped in skin that isn’t white like theirs?

I can’t.

But Jen Wang of the blog Degrasian, sure did in her brilliant post, “Where The Killing Of A Fictional Black Child Exposes How We Feel About The Killing Of A Real Black Child. In it, Jen Wang does an incredible job linking the sickening sentiments from the Hunger Games Tweeters to the increasingly nasty move by some white Americans to besmirch the reputation and memory of Trayvon Martin by painting him as a drug dealing, rule-breaking, sass-talking n*gger who got what he deserved when George Zimmerman shot and killed him last month. Jen writes:

What I’ve been stewing over for the last few weeks is exactly that, that there’s a sickening bottom line in this country, and it is simply that certain people’s lives are valued less than others. I don’t know how we continue as a society knowing this. Because a society where mothers of black boys have to worry that when their children run out for candy, they might never come back–that society is broken. A society where the Muslim mother of five children could be beaten to death in her own bed where her killer left a note that reads “go back to your country, you terrorist” is a society that demands to be fixed. Every piece of legislation that criminalizes a person’s skin color–whether with regard to immigration or homeland security or law enforcement–needs to be challenged. Every cultural message that says one race is “less than” another needs to be checked. Is it a movie we’re watching about a dystopia that doesn’t give a shit about its disenfranchised or are we living it? The line for me has become increasingly blurred.

For me, the lines have become quite clear. Shoot—been clear: America has gone stone cold mad. I promise you, all of this racial craziness, ramped up shortly after the nomination of Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate in the 2008 presidential election and capped off by the racist Hunger Games tweets, have me feeling like someone’s been smashing cymbals in my head 24/7 for four years straight. Is it me, or does it feel like America is just one bad incident away from acting out a country-wide version of the riot scene in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing? Of course, this is not what I want. But I fear that this is what it is.

RELATED POSTS:

1. Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, Black Friends & White Privilege
2. Teenager Killed in Florida by Neighborhood Watch Brings Terror To My Heart
3. Neighbors Gone Wild
4. Evil Black Men

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

23 Comments

  1. Incredible! Liz Taylor can be Egyptian but black people described as black people can’t be black because black people are just not beloved enough??? Awesome. But at least we have something confirmed – racists are illiterate…

  2. You already know I agree w you. somebody is about to throw the trashcan through the window! Its just too much. excellent post, as always.

  3. great post…AGREE AGREE AGREE, but so sad. I am raising three kids and wonder how much worse things will get as they are getting older – shouldn’t it have been the other way around!

  4. Denene, my sentiments exactly. It feels like ish is about to go DOWN!

  5. Now I really want my money back for seeing the movie. Not only did I not like the movie, but this just takes it to another level. thanks for sharing.

  6. As an adoptive mother of an AMAZING mixed race child, I am just now understanding the depth of this issue. I love your blog and enjoy learning what I didn’t even realize was still an issue. Thank you for honestly and lovingly presenting thoughts.

    I think Rue is adorable in the movie.

  7. The sad thing is when I went off about this on facebook the other day one of my white co-workers replied that he also thought she was a boy for most of the movie and didn’t know “why they couldn’t find someone ‘girlier'”. WTF was that?!! Just when I think I have heard it all and can’t be more pissed he says some dumb ish like that. So on top of not being able to love and embrace black characters because of their skin, it’s also bad that she doesn’t have swinging straight hair and look like what HE perceives as a little girl!
    I quit people. When we can hate on someone as cute as Stenberg there is no hope.

  8. Great post! Those tweets had me in tears. There are some sick and pathetic people out there. Who cares if the actors in the movie are black, white or any other color? I have not seem this movie, but I have heard they are all amazing actors. That is what matters. Why can’t we treat each other like human beings?

    • Its definitely frustrating Sarah especially the one referring to Rue as a black b****h. How Unfathomable is it for any man to refer to a young girl as that. Then throw in “not to be racist as if it lessens the blow. That type of microagression is more disgusting that the outright racists at least I can believe they don’t know any better.

  9. I just got a pounding migraine. This is exactly why I don’t have a twitter. I’m almost ready to turn off my tv & get rid of my phone but then again even the Amish have issues. *Sighs* This thing called life. I’ve never visited this blog before but it’s nice to run into one that addresses real issues & whose commentators aren’t complete idiots. Thank you

  10. I too fear, that we (Americans) are on the verge of “country-wide version of the riot scene in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing”. I hope it doesn’t happen.

  11. I cannot express how incredibly sad, distrusting, embittered, venomous, and just plain… numb (heavy sigh), I feel right now about this place we call America- “land of the free.” As mother of a 17-month old black boy, I am finding it more and more difficult to resist allowing the hate to creep in. But I can’t let it. That’s what “they” want. And so I’ve gotta resist, I’ve gotta keep a cool head, I’ve gotta take the lessons learned and turn it into productive action, I’ve gotta show my baby boy that this place belongs to him too, I’ve got to give him the tools he needs to be well in an unwell country.

    • Amen. And the thing i worry about is if I am strong enough to do it. Am I strong enough to give my children what they need to succeed when everything around them is telling them that it is impossible.

  12. I think you have something Denene about the 2008 Election of Barrack Obama. I have always felt that my unemployment was extended ( 3 years now) because they hated him and anything that look like him will suffer. We are at the everyday level so they can affect us because they can’t touch him. I am a Social Worker with a Bachelor’s degree and 9 credits towards my Masters and I see jobs everyday that I can do. When I apply they never call back or respond to my emails. As for Hunger Game, I am not surprised and I feel a push back coming, a race war on the home front as well. I will be engaging in a series of race discussions in my community as a way to help descalate a tempature I see rising.

  13. Who cares? A few people making racist comments should not stir you or me, for that matter. There will always be racist pigs on earth, and social networking sites just give them a platform to voice their ignorance. There will ALWAYS be people who do/say dumb things, but they shouldn’t represent the nature of Americans. For every 1 person who does something dumb there are 100+ who do something honorable. Just like Flava Flav or Snoop Dogg does not represent all black people, neither should Zimmerman or racist tweeters represent all Americans. Unfortunately we have to have thick skin, or we’ll be crying and moaning everyday because someone said the n-word in a racist way on facebook or because justice was not served. We should handle the isolated situations and hope someone learns from them.

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby

      Tiffany,

      Thanks for your comment. You ask, “Who cares?” I answer, “I DO.” A lot of us should. Because just as you point out at the end of your comment, people need to learn from these situations. And the only way that can happen is if we shine a spotlight on them, call them out on their madness and let them know that it’s not cool or fresh or funny, but foul and hurtful and racist. I’m a longtime journalist, and a rule of thumb that we used to use to gauge our readers was this: For every person who wrote a letter to the editor, 1,000 more felt the same way but didn’t have the courage or time or wherewithall to express it. I’d venture to say that the same applies to those who comment on Twitter or Facebook or in the comments section of blogs.

      On another note: Here on MyBrownBaby, we talk about the intersection of parenting, childrearing and race. So we care deeply about these kinds of stories—as writers, as parents. As humans. You have the right, of course, to think differently. But questioning why someone else “cares” when you don’t doesn’t really add much to the discourse.

  14. WOW!!! My first time here, and I stumble upon some powerful stuff!!!

    WONDERFUL POST, and I most appreciate how you hit it from all angles!!!

  15. In my life I offten have a hard time finding others who care. and feel glad that here people do. my hole family is light skined people of color that color being black. but my cusins do not even know. because their mother can pass as white. and has shame over being black. my mother her sister is the only proud one and looks more white. but everyone knows she is black and is proud to be. but never tells her feeling on what her sister is doing to the kids. or that my grandmother and grandfather only say they are black when no one other than us are around. in this day and age no one would think that someone would hide what color they are. but it is happening in my home even from family. here you care about situations like this. I care about others also. when I read on this site I care about the stories but more about the commemts from people who care like me. it brings me joy to know that this site is here. and hope that my grandparents can some day not hide. and my hole family know who they are and be proud of it.
    Iam one of the only family members who you can see is black.I even am a dark shade and have never been so proud to say so.

  16. those tweets made me cry.
    i know it doesn’t matter but when i read the book i envisioned rue almost exactly as she looked in the movie. she was perfect. if anything, jennifer lawrence was too pale.

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