I’m sure that everyone has seen the most recent video of the security guard using a taser against a woman at an Atlanta mall. If you haven’t, you’re in luck because in addition to it being found all over the internet, it can also be found below. The video is, however, graphic and before it is posted, let me preface it with a story. I was riding home from work last week, listening to a certain white rapper’s satellite radio show on my way home, and just happened to catch wind of this story on one of the shows. The (white) host of the show explained that when he initially caught wind of the story, he felt bad upon reading the story that the woman had been tased at all – let alone in front of her children. He said that it seemed outrageous – until he saw the video; his breakdown description of the video was incredible to me: he described the store that the armed guard was securing as one of those stores in the ghetto with the “big butt mannequins,” and that the woman, basically being a hood rat, deserved every bit of what she got. Again, warning: some may find this video to upsetting or at the least extremely offensive.

I was not able to fully listen to the excerpt that was played on the radio, and the very next day someone attempted to show me the video, amused. He went online and pulled it up, against my wishes, and told me how the woman deserved it and how funny it was. Again, I was unable to watch the entire clip. Many other people attempted to show me the video and a trend that I noticed between real life viewers (and even online viewers – Black twitter finds their way to drama quickly) is that they all found some sort of entertainment in the video. These are not things that I find to be amusing.

I likened this video to the video of the Cleveland bus driver, which coined many memes including “you going ta jail now!” The video was a shot heard round the world, and the internet enjoyed the video and subsequent memes and videos very much from what I observed. The tasing video and the Cleveland bus driver video were similar in that all parties were Black. The perceived aggressors were Black women, and the perceived victims were Black men in their professional capacity who were defending themselves against violence or at a minimum the threat of violence.

busdriver-uppercutsI do have personal opinions of what could have and should have been done in both situations, especially in terms of both the bus driver’s and the security guard’s professional capacities. I also have opinions on who is the aggressor and what should happen when a person feels they are being assaulted. This post is not intended to defend either woman’s behavior, nor to call into question what initiated the assault or the end result.

The burning question in my mind is: what is up with the internet’s fetishization of assaults of Black women?

If you did not know anything about the circumstances or behaviors of the woman who was tased, other than she was tased by an armed guard in front of her children, would the natural response be “what did she do to deserve it?” or “that sounds funny!” What if you heard she was upset about something and verbally assaulting the guard?

And the same question of the lady on the bus on Cleveland; if the only information you had of the situation is that a woman is upset and arguing with a bus driver, and is then physically assaulted, is the response amusement and blame? (In fact, the bus driver made a comment like: ‘you wanna be a man, I’m gonna treat you like a man.’) What about once you are informed that both women are Black women?

Every opinion I’ve witnessed about both assault had few differences.

The similarities included judgments of the women in the videos, characterizations of Black women, statements about poverty (ie, the “hood” and/or “ghetto”), and justification for assaulting Black women. Certainly, in many cases, the first lead a direct path to the last. In fact, in all of this, the people in the videos that aren’t the Black women are painted as victors and heroes for their assault, combative nature, or arguable self-defense.

I got physically angry when the initial commentary I heard on the tasing story included comments about “big butt mannequins,” and hood stores, and the show host said that the ghetto broad deserved every bit of what she got. The Cleveland video was even worse; the teenage girl (who was being unruly and also being publicly embarrassed) was uppercut during the altercation and the public rallied behind the bus driver, petitioning that he not lose his job over the incident.

girl-fightThere are more videos both before and after these, including a locker room fight between two Black teenage girls that was posted shortly after the tasing video. There are memes. There are remix videos. There are dummy twitter accounts in the name of fun. All of these things perpetually devalue the violence perpetuated on the Black women/girls, whether in self-defense or not, and justifies that the violence is rational because they are either poor/ghetto/disrespectful/mouthy/whatever and it should also be recorded and sent directly the World Star immediately.

I don’t know how many hits World Star Hip Hop gets daily, but if I had to guess, I’d probably say far too many. Now, they aren’t the focus of this post by any means, but they are the first place many of these videos appear because they have deemed themselves the “CNN of the ghetto”. You heard me. I avoid World Star just like I avoid Media Take Out and Bossip. In addition to actually exhibiting hip hop and urban entertainment gossip, the site heavily exploits videos of real-life people and situations and capitalizes on the many images of real-life violence depicted.

In a brilliant post on The Guardian just after the Cleveland bus driver incident, entitled ‘World Star Hip-hop: making a bankable brand out of brutality’, Jason Farago writes:

It’s not the beatdowns themselves that make World Star so disturbing; it’s how they get there. We are all videographers now, and bystanders now do the work of media outlets, and for free. There was no thought on that Cleveland bus of stopping the altercation; people were too busy filming! (Indeed, it turns out there were multiple cameraphone-wielding passengers on the bus that day; after the first video went viral, a different angle was uploaded to another site – and then swiftly stolen by World Star.)

Not long ago, the knock against modern urban life was that it isolated people, and that in the face of violence we turned away. How things have changed: today we don’t only pay attention to violence, but we offer it up, gratis, to anyone who wants to make a buck off of it.

He also makes note of videos of fights in general, and not just assaults involving women, that go up on World Star’s website. While there is a mockery made of violence in poor, urban communities, I think that there is a different dynamic added when women are involved. Just like Maury is (still, sigh) heavily watched as a way to slut-shame poor and/or Black women, and ‘bitches be like…’ memes hit the internet daily, women of color are poked fun at daily on the internet. Violence against women of color isn’t the new black, but public acceptance of it is — especially if the woman is, well…ghetto.

I don’t know that it should be stated since it is not the main focal point of this post, but I’ll state for the record (and to avoid backlash) that I think that both the woman in the tasing video and the young lady in the Cleveland video exhibited grossly inappropriate behavior. However, the internet equates colored folks to trash based on the behaviors of the people in these videos, and finds gratification in “ghetto” Black women. Yet and still, I do think that there are other remedies that the other parties in both videos could have taken to diffuse the circumstances as exhibited in the videos. Still, I wonder what the reaction from the internet would be if the women in the videos weren’t poor colored girls? Why are we so amused by these videos?

  • Mwatuanghi

    Great post. I myself found the infamous uppercut the bus driver gave the one lady to be a bit overboard. I think in the other situation, since the lady kept approaching the man and wouldn’t leave the premises, as well as initiated the conflict that led to the tazing, that perhaps tazing was safer and less problematic than the alternatives that seemed present. What bothered me especially though, was how the father of the children had not done anything to break them up in the first place and had only gotten involved after the incident occurred. But that’s another story. I think what makes this kind of media so appealing and highly sought by the public is that they love to see black dysfunction to gratify their own private classist or racist views.

  • James Wooden

    This is a really important topic. These videos are like a type of pornography which provide an excusable way for the viewer to express an otherwise socially taboo visceral racism. (Look at how THESE people act). At the same time, on their face the videos are also pure shaming, which is probably one of the most basic ways to express distaste at socially unacceptable conduct. Videos which are simultaneously shaming and racist. I do not think this fits any dominant social science models.

  • Val

    The reason these vids are so popular is because no one feels bad when a Black woman is assaulted. Society has trained everyone, especially Black people, that Black women are valueless. This indoctrination has been going on since the first enslaved Black woman was raped and beaten by her enslaver.

    This continues today with not just these kids of videos but the descriptors used to describe Black women like chicken head, hoe, hoodrat, bitch, etc. Those terms are used to dehumanize Black women. And unfortunately even many Black women now use those terms to describe other Black women.

    We live in a country where we barely own any media. So for the most part we, Black women, have no say in how we are portrayed. And even when Black people own media, like that website you mention, they many times cater to the lowest common denominator.

    The result is Black women being brutalized and no one bats an eye. In fact the chorus is usually saying she deserved what she got. I bet if you substitute a dog in those videos and have them be on the receiving end of an uppercut and a taser, there would be an uproar of sympathy for the dogs as well as calls for their attackers to be punished. No such support for Black women though.


  • In both situations the woman was aggressive to the point of laying hands on to someone else. Nobody is required to accept that. While there is an argument to be made that the bus driver could have chosen otherwise as he had to step to the woman to hit her, the security guard was literally being hit in the head when he took action. Being punched in the head by an angry “southern lady” is not part of his job description.

    I have zero sympathy for either woman. Look we have just stated that women will be in combat, for reasons of equality. Equality means just that. There is no reason to feel sympathy for aggressive, nasty women any more than I would feel sympathy for an aggressive, nasty man. If these were two men that had gotten tased or took an uppercut after starting a confrontation they couldn’t finish no one would bat an eye.

    Don’t hit other people because you might get hit back or tased and wind up on youtube where people laugh at your stupidity. We should ask why are some people so quick to resort to violence and how can we teach them otherwise.

  • Livication

    As stated in the above post, I do not think that either of the women acted appropriately at all and I’m not sure that this post was intended to address the behavior of the subjects of the video, rather than the audience and how the internet sensationalizes and attributes (wrongfully, I’d argue) labels that demean women of color and/or or lesser socioeconomic circumstances.

    (Further, I think that contributors of this blog have had a very clear and consistent position on tasing and less than lethal weapons.)

  • Livication


  • Dorian Mode

    You can’t be serious, is this the type of behavior you condone, both women in both videos were in charge of the situation all they had to do was act like a normal rational human being instead of a gangster. It’s embarrassing to everyone to see a woman act like that, was all that cussing necessary, especially in front of her kids, she even had the kids start a chorus, I have sympathy for the kids and that’s all. I’ve seen this behavior time and time again and it usually happen when the woman is caught doing something she should not be doing like shoplifting, she knows it’s embarrassing did the woman deserve the upper cut, YES, did the woman deserve being tazed YES, are all black woman bitches, NO, do all black woman lack the social skills to have an argument without violence NO, but you must admit our sisters have got to do better.

  • Livication

    I’m not sure that you read the post; no one condoned anything. And your comments echo the entire point of the post.

  • Reggie

    That Atlanta security guard should have hit that ignorant, foolish woman with 1000 more volts of get right. It’s amazing to me that in this country you need a license to drive a car or a boat or to fly a plane; but any fool with genitals can have children.

    The scary thing is that, that crazy heifer is someone’s role model.

  • Livication

    Who should decide who has the right to have children? A century ago, your grandmother or great grandmother may have been a candidate for selective eugenics.

  • myOpinionage

    Point of order: The female in the Cleveland video was not a teen, she was 25.

    The problem is not one of the internet desiring to see black women assault others & be assaulted; the problem is 2 fold. 1) people are infatuated with niggerish behavior & deeds. I say that being an African American male. People love it, savage antics of low class undomesticated animals, much akin to why people like watching animals hunt/kill on Animal Planet. And WE give them hat they want all too willingly. Worldstar is a disgusting site that is degrading to blacks as a whole but WE are the ones watching & sending them ignorant footage. 2) people want to be famous, no matter how fleeting, and they somehow think ithis ignorance will be their conduit to caviar & furs. And the love wallowing in filth. Rather than show how we can improve ourselves & surrounds, lets show how disgusting we are. That seems to be the mentality. But here’s the sad thing; the way the folks act In these videos…when the cameras are not around…THEY ACT THE EXACT SAME WAY! No morals, no etiquette, distasteful & classless. We need to change our own mindsets and check ourselves. Its nothing new; before the internet you could see it in the evening news. Something happened in “the hood”. Do they interview the 8 bros in suits & ties…NOOOOO! Bypass them for the walking cliche of a perm, gold teeth, cheap silk and coonery