At The End Of the Day…

End of the Day Blurb

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Interpretation vs. Intention – Which is more important?

I was listening the the BBC’s “World Have Your Say” earlier this year, and they were discussing  a new ad campaign by Australian makeup company, Illamasqua. This image landed with the tagline, “I am not dreaming of a White Christmas.”

“I’m Not Dreaming of a White Christmas”

A company representative on the program insisted that their concept was one of juxtaposition, yin and yang. They make high pigment makeup and they wanted to showcase the intensity of their colors.

Others have taken offense to, what is to them, a blatant reference to the horrendous Blackface practice which began in the  minstrel era of 1830-1890, and mimicked degrading stereotypes of black people at the time.

“Blackface is more than just burnt cork applied as makeup. It is a style of entertainment based on racist Black stereotypes that began in minstrel shows and continues to this day.” – black-face.com

Based on this definition, the ad could be seen as not representing Blackface since the racist, stereotyped entertainment is not present. Others again disagree, saying the large, red lips are a direct reference to the blackface style.

Throughout the program it became clear that no one wanted to agree to disagree. They wanted admission of guilt, and wanted to be right.

So what is more important, Intention or Interpretation?

According to Illamasqua, the idea that this ad could be viewed as racist never even crossed their mind. They were trying to creatively show the deep pigmentation of their make-up which ranges from deep black to shocking white. They went on to say they have a long history of supporting and promoting all types of women, young, old, black, white and everything in between. They stand by their history of promoting the beauty of all women, and don’t think their ad should be viewed as racist at all.

But some do view it as racist.

If they have a long history of supporting all skin colors, is it possible that the interpretation of racism is simply wrong? Or does interpretation trump intention – making this ad a hideous representation of racism and one that should be pulled and apologized for?

And around and around and around we go.

Yes, I called the police when you said you were going to kill yourself on Facebook.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And I would do it again.

You see, we are Facebook friends, which means on some level you have invited me to participate in your life. We knew each other as children, more moons ago than I am going to count. We haven’t had a direct message conversation, and the last time we spoke it was probably about our math homework or boys. My memories of that time are fuzzy, but I remember your face. I remember that I genuinely thought you were a nice person. When I accepted your friend request – or maybe I sent one to you – I invited you into my life, and me into yours.

Last night, at 1:30am you posted that you were going to kill yourself.

I found myself staring at the line, paralyzed. Surely a good friend or family member is going to respond on Facebook and tell you that they were on their way.

A few minutes went by, and the only response was a plea to not go through with it. The poster was thousands of miles away. As was I.

I called the police in the city where the post originated with my wealth of information. First Name. Last Name. City. Nothing else. The dispatcher said she would attempt a wellness check if she could find an address. I hung up.

That’s when I started to doubt what I had just done. I hardly knew you, had no idea if this was a serious threat,  What if it wasn’t a serious threat and you found out that I was the one that called? What if you get pissed at me, or what if I got you in some kind of trouble? What had I just done?

After my call, there was Facebook silence, and uneasy sleep.

When I woke up I searched for any news about your well being. Your “real” friends had since seen the post and were posting frantic messages of love and strength. I learned that someone else had called the police, and they had already done a wellness check because of an earlier caller. No information was received on how the check went. 24 hours later, and I’m still not certain of the outcome.

The only thing I know is that I made the right call, and I would do it again.

I can live with you hating me, un-friending me, even casting an evil curse on me.

What I couldn’t live with was doing nothing and finding out you meant it.

~~~

If you are thinking about suicide, or faced with a similar situation, here are some resources:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Reporting a Suicide Threat on Facebook

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