Over last several months, Danielle Bregoli–the catch me outside girl– flooded my newsfeed. If I wasn’t hearing about Milo Yiannopoulos or Tomi Lahren, I was hearing about her. Like Yiannopoulos, I didn’t understand the appeal. I’ve watched the video many times and it never got funny. But everyone else around me seemed to think it was hysterical.
Interestingly enough, it all seemed to change after Buzzfeed made the extremely terrible decision to publish what seemed to be an ode to Bregoli, praising her for “defying expectations for white girls.” Nearly every woman of color I know–myself included– grew up with society holding them to a higher standard than their white counterparts. I grew up with parents that did their damnedest to ensure I stayed out of trouble for that very reason. Even more so, they’ve told me explicitly how to behave around authority figures. Ebony Magazine didn’t wait to point this out. While I find myself nodding in agreement to the piece, I still cannot fathom how people find her to be funny or that it has lasted this long.
What made me angry about the promotion that was the Buzzfeed article is that society does not harbor prejudice or hatred against white girls that damages their livelihood. The internet might make memes about white girls with names like Lakynn. Breitbart and Return of Kings might mock girls with blue hair. But, white girls will never experience sexism the way women of color do.
White girls named Emma Smith will probably never worry about getting a job or having their credentials questioned. Black girls named Laquisha Johnson probably do.
White girls, for the most part, do not worry about their ancestral culture being bastardized in a sexual manner. Indigenous women, do worry about this every Halloween.
Although white men dressed in drag in early theater, their character never lead to years of oppression. Blackface did this to black people.
Buzzfeed’s article was incredibly tone-deaf and ignorant. While white girls can experience sexism and oppression, society will usually give them much more leeway than they do for girls of color.
On Dr. Phil, Bregoli bragged about stealing cars, getting into physical fights her mother and stealing from her. In February, Bregoli was escorted off a Spirit Airlines flight after punching another airline passenger. Bregoli’s bad behavior isn’t new or refreshing. In fact, everyone at some point in their life has gone to school with someone like Bregoli. Chances are, none of them have been rewarded for their behavior.
Earlier this week, Bregoli’s Instagram produced strange content. Two videos saying “This is the modern day celebrity? This country glorifies and makes famous a young girl for being disrespectful to her mother. She is no idol. She is no role model. She is no god. Pay close attention to what happens next.” in the description, “Democracy Dies in Darkness” is written in Russian. For a moment, the world rejoiced that this was happening. A third video eventually appeared. A distorted voice promoting the Glassface Instagram account. A profile check reveals it was a promotion for a music video, in which Bregoli appears.
The Daily Beast later revealed the stunt was “a commentary on the state of celebrity, current events…hysteria, fake news & conspiracy theories.” Even still, her mother brought her onto daughter Dr. Phil for the sole purpose of shaming her into good behavior. Now, she’s milking her daughter for all she’s worth and encouraging her behavior. Of course, encouraging your daughter to misbehave is poor parenting. Had Bergoli been black, the world would be appalled much quicker that her mother would be profiting off disrespect and criminal behavior. Conservative outlets would have searched high and low for both the mother and daughter’s rap sheet.
Black teenagers who act like Bregoli don’t get to appear in music videos. They don’t get to sell merch. They don’t get to go to clubs and charge for their appearances. They don’t get propelled into stardom with millions of followers. They end up either dead or in jail. They get labeled by society and the media as thugs. If society has no issue punishing black children for misbehaving–or in some cases, not doing much of anything– then we should have never rewarded Bregoli by making her a meme.