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I do believe the person responsible for The Onion tweet in question would have made that tasteless joke about any nine-year old actress. This tweet was ill advised and repulsive, not just because the actress was nine, or because MacFarlane had, earlier in the evening, made a joke about her being too old for George Clooney in sixteen years, but primarily because young black women, black girls, are regularly hypersexualized. There was this additional, fraught context that someone didn’t take into consideration and probably couldn’t take into consideration because they are oblivious. They are oblivious to the context because they’ve never been around people who are familiar with it, because they’ve never been held accountable.
People often fail to understand the importance of diversity. They assume it’s all about quotas and political correction but it is about so much more. Diversity (and we’re talking race, class, gender, sexuality, political affiliation, religion, all of it) is about putting multiple points of view into a conversation. It’s about ensuring that no one is operating in the kind of cultural vacuum where they don’t stop to consider context. It’s why certain people and shows and publications keep running into the same brick wall of public outcry about diversity—because these people consistently demonstrate a callous and willful ignorance of context. They see these lines that shouldn’t be crossed and cross them anyway because they are blissfully unencumbered by context.
I’m not outraged about this one tweet. I’m outraged about the cultural disease that spawned this tweet, the one where certain people are devalued and denigrated for sport and then told to laugh it off because hey, you know, it’s humor.