How Caroline Flack highlights hypocrisy and the erasure of black women

How Caroline Flack highlights hypocrisy and the erasure of black women (c)

Suicide is sad. Nobody should ever feel like that’s their only solution. Some of you may feel that this is way too soon but then no journalist felt it was too soon to talk about Kobe Bryant’s acquitted rape case so, here goes nothing!  

Valentine’s day deaths always remind me of Reeva Steenkamp. The woman murdered by Oscar Pistorious. On Valentine’s day morning we woke to the news and were told that it was accidental. Only later did the heinous truth come out.  And that’s the problem with celebrity deaths. We get the spin. The picture they want to give us. Reeva was a victim of domestic violence and there were signs of Oscars issues way before their relationship but, he was talented so it was ignored.

Flack’s dismissal from ITV’s Love Island was the right thing for the channel to do. The argument is that whilst Ant from Ant and Dec was supported through his substance misuse issues Caroline wasn’t. But Caroline was painted as a party girl and the denial about the issues in her private life dismissed as just one of those things famous people do. Dating a string of younger men became acceptable.   

Let’s be honest, media bullying is the British way. From the News of the World and Mirror, Piers Morgan and Phil Schofield (yes he’s problematic) we’ve seen the issues of racism and women’s sexuality dismissed or treated as wrong.  The only reason Caroline is getting this level of love now is because they don’t want to talk about two truths: Caroline preyed on young men and Caroline is white.

I’m seeing the same media who gloried over the inches they wrote for her assault on her much younger partner and dating a young Harry Styles then turn around and claim that we should be nicer to women in the industry otherwise we will have more of these senseless deaths. Were they too harsh after she assaulted her partner in December? I don’t think they were harsh enough and no harsher than if a male celebrity beat up his partner. Hard to tell as we don’t talk about women preying on younger men or male domestic violence. These are still taboo subjects.

What I do know is that we have proven how evil they have been to black women. Diane Abbott, Meghan Markle are recent examples. Where was the call for the industry to be kinder to women? Neither of these women did anything to warrant any abuse and yet we all allowed it to happen by supporting the media that encouraged it. Piers Morgan is still on TV. Come on .

And therein lies the problem. Like #MeToo Black women aren’t seen as victims. Until it happens to white women or there is outrage from a large population, we ignore it. Who is checking in on their mental health? Channel 4 allowed Jade Goody, Jo from S Club 7 and Daniella Lloyd to bully Shilpa Shetty until the Indian population took a stand and said enough. Who is saying enough for Meghan or Diane?  We stand aside and let Lizzo be vilified for being big and nobody cares if she lives or dies. She’s objectified. We are objectified. Caroline however will be remembered for being a delight.

I hope her soul rests in peace but let’s not canonise someone who was clearly on a self-destructive path and wasn’t being helped by those around her. Her story should remind of us how little is being done for those with serious Mental Health issues and victims of domestic violence. But we know it won’t be. And for that I’m sorry as I know that it will be minorities that continue to suffer abuse that is ignored by the majority.

© Chelsea Black 2020

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