13 Reasons Why “13 Reasons Why” Neglects the Black Narrative

BY: BELINDA LLENARES

The suicidal issue has always been an arguable concept. Not to mention the prevalent implications of such content as it came from a relatively influential medium such as from one of the entertainment norms. Unfolding the secrets of “13 Reasons Why,” a series has been launched and aired to showcase screening of the popular novel by Jay Asherís. The context of the story revolves with how a teenage girl, Hannah Baker, was compelled to end her own life. Actually, many have taken it against the series as it entails suicide depictions. “13 Reasons Why” is also criticized to have disregarded the black narrative as it implies the following negative notations:
1. Firstly, to some black kids that are also Hannah’s age, there’s no viable reason why Hannah committed suicide just because things get a bit tough. Even though there are lots of problems that may occur in your way or path, the show paints Hannah’s struggles as the justification behind using suicide as a way out, when millions of black kids not only face the same bullying and brutal trials of high school, in addition to facing racial discrimination and the fear of walking home just to be profiled and attacked by the police.
2. It shows that suicide is an option and a wrong solution to escape from all the challenges of your life rather than teaching the strength and perseverance to face the problems of your reality and overcome it: lessons that many black kids are forced to learn while navigating a white-dominated society.
3. It shows that suicide is a way of revenge. The thirteen tape recordings made by Hannah reveal every person who she sees responsible for her suicide decision. It insinuates that vindication of her suicide lies on pinpointing each one to the expense of teaching them a lesson.
4. By certifying that bullying is a cause of suicide, it encourages that other forms of mental, emotional, and physical oppression can justify a suicide, which is not a message we want our Black children to embrace in this socio-political climate.
5. They manipulated intimate significance. By putting a romantic plotline at the center of the reasons why they have implied that the success or failure of a relationship can manifest as greater or lower chances of suicide. It can actually disseminate wrong interpretations and may give compassionate reasoning out of a tragic resolution.
6. The show fails to acknowledge the scientifically supported belief that people who decide to die by suicide often have a mental health problem. Mental health is another issue that is often neglected in the black community, and this would have been an excellent teaching opportunity.
7. They portray dangerous presentations to their young viewership. Such an emphasis on a visual display of suicide activity may decrease sensitivity, especially when inner city Black kids are sometimes already exposed to so much violence in day to day life.
8. They resonate comfort on suicide. Perhaps without realizing it, Hannah is really exercising her white privilege by committing suicide – she has no regard for all of the sacrifices her parents may have made to bring her into this world and work to give her a better life.
9. Why are there only two petit light skin black girls with curly hair on the cast? Why are they the only representatives for the black female community? There is little regard for the experience of any other black girl who doesn’t look quite like them.
10. The story goes very wrong. In times that Hannah needs help and advice she always feels she’s alone although her parents are always there for her giving her all that they can whether it’s for school or friends. I imagine this can feel unrelatable for many black people watching because she seems spoiled yet still unsatisfied with life.
11. Blaming others for your own mistakes. Nobody approaches her to kill herself. She’s the one who makes the decision. And her excuse is not acceptable, it’s just what all teenagers been going through, and some who are not comfortable middle class like her have it worse.
12. It can be a disease. Something contagious. For example, I am a teenager who struggles the same problem with Hannah, may be doing what she has done.
13. There are scenes which are simply inappropriate, especially with the teenagers which are the main audience of this book/series.

Do you agree with these reasons? Some more than others? Comment below.
Sources:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1217100.Thirteen_Reasons_Why
http://www.hindustantimes.com/brunch/why-13-reasons-why-sucks/story-xjdP3xqtXKtrZMej0r8PDP.html

Photo credit: Vijione.tv

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