The History of Planking
The other day, I received a Facebook status update by @HBCUBuzz who questioned why anyone in the black community would support planking.
They had a short code url for me to click on, and when I did so there was a picture of hundreds of black men. They were “planking” in between pieces of wood. They were laid bodies, on top of bodies, faced down with their feet hanging out. It was the position that bodies were put in under the boats as they traveled slaves to their destination by owners. Often resulting in the death of slaves.
So gripped by the picture, I didn’t know whether to throw up, cry for every black man that I could count in this photograph, write a blog to warn you or scream with rage at the ignorance of the subliminal messages behind the things we do and can not see.
With that said, I’m writing the blog. When I went searching for the history of planking I came upon an article by Tom Meltzer of The Guardian newspaper who speaks of a completely different perspective. He credits two young guys for starting this craze and his article implies that its the art of danger that attracts people to the game. The more unrealistic place you plank, and post your picture, the more kudos you get from the people around you who gather to watch you, in my opinion, “play dead”.
Here is what Xzibit, a rapper in the Hip-Hop community, turned actor has to say. “Planking is THE dumbest sh-t ever,” Xzibit tweeted (via TMZ). “#Planking was a way to transport slaves on ships during the slave trade, its not funny. Educate.”
This brings me to my own point, why would you want to play dead, anywhere, at anytime, and call that cool? After seeing the gruesome images of all the slaves who were actually pictured dead, its hard to stomach this as a game that a black man would play for artistic or any other pleasure.
I am truthfully angered by the fact that I see so many “followers” of so many things before they gain historical perspective. I am not just talking about plankers, there are churches planking too! Just because we want to allow the kids to express themselves doesn’t mean that we are not responsible for teaching them how to research, and make critical decisions. But, I’ve been on my church war path lately so I’ll save those thoughts for the next blog!
In the meantime, please google african slaves in a boat and see the original plankers. I don’t think this was an original idea by two inventing boys. Maybe this was something their ancestors thought of, (and executed), and it just reappeared as a game.
However you credit its origin, its disturbing to know that people who are dead were planked; murdered and now people are playing dead as a form or art. If you ask me, its a modern form of Russian Roulette.
It shouldn’t be long before Rhianna writes a hit about this one! Based on her last few dark-demonic lyrical expressions, she’d love to write about any cases of planking that actually show up as suicide.
Murder-Suicide, a game of fun-filled artistic expression, or my ancestors laying in a boat face down with their feet hanging out, planking?
Its history is deeply rooted in the annihilation of a culture, a brand, an entire race of people who have been mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually affected by the real “planking”.
BLACK MAN STAND-UP! Its not funny, at all! And this is coming from a sista who is not militant, or walking around with her fist pumped all day.
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- The New Planking (peopleofwalmart.com)
- First Planking, Then Cone-ing, Now….Falling. (perezhilton.com)
- Texas Trust Credit Union Takes Part in the Planking Craze (prweb.com)
- No sag yet for planking (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Planking, Silly Bandz, and REALLY Big Hair (godlovesteenagers.com)
- What the Democratic Party Would Rather You Not Know About Racism and Their Unclean Hands (re-post) (pumabydesign001.wordpress.com)
- After planking comes Tebowing (thesun.co.uk)
- After planking comes Tebowing (thesun.co.uk)
- Readex to Launch Digital Edition of the Library Company of Philadelphia’s Unparalleled Collection of Afro-Americana (prweb.com)
- Don Lemon: It only takes one drop (inamerica.blogs.cnn.com)
um. the only connection…real connection…i see between the planking game and slaves being transported on planks…is that they share the same name. Shawn T and others “plank” during exercise routines. I’m troubled by the lack of “education” on this topic by those who get angry at the supposed ignorance. Let’s be careful not to become angry out of our disgust for slavery. I just see NO real connection between the two except they both have the same name. I say plank on! (the game of course)
Don’t get me wrong. I was pissed when I heard the slavery piece mentioned. I posted on fb how folks need to educate themselves….til my good friend stopped me and asked if i did any research. i felt like an idiot because I had done none. So I researched and could find no hard connection to the slavery thing. Until I can find the evidence……the glove don’t fit!
Yup they just aren’t the same. Planking isn’t “playing dead” and it’s definitely not imitating what was done to slaves. It is imitating a plank, for no reason other than amusement and relief from boredom. Now here’s a question about the bad “planking”. If the case had been reversed – white people enslaved by black people, would you feel as angry about it as you do now? If the answer is “no”, then I consider that a bit racist….
i apologize I never responded to this. I appreciate your comments. It is not about “race” it is about slavery and the fact that this planking is associated with slavery. When people walk the plank, that is not a positive thing, and neither is playing dead. It is the symbolism behind the action not the fact that one might be bored when they are doing it. I have written a lot of blog since then and would love for you to stay connected. I like strong minded folks. Be Extraordinary, Res
Really??? Lets just put this to rest. example: I’m building a house, I use a piece(s) of wood, it happens to be called a PLANK(ing), all of a sudden I’m a discrace to humanity cause I used something called a PLANK. Because it also happens to be what they named something slave traders used to do two centuries ago. ( should probably be noted that it was probably not what the slave traders called it) However if I use a BOARD, or a piece of LUMBER ( Same thing as a PLANK) I can avoid the whole ugly situation.
Now lets describe what these people are really doing. (Planking) they are trying to imitate a plank!
they are not on the other hand trying to imitate how slaves were transported two centuries ago, big difference.
how to resolve this? call it something else! “BOARDING”? oh wait there are already a few other things called BOARDING ( boarding a plane, a boarding house, surf boarding, skate boarding)
so lets call it “hghjftsae”, oh wait that does not accuratly describe what they are doing!
there are so many words in the English language that have different meanings, why should Planking be the exception? Context, Context, Context!!! OMG I sound like my college professor!
aside from what it is called. we are doing these plankers a grave injustice, it actually takes a fair degree of strength to imitate a board! particularly when only a few places on the body are making contact with a solid surface. Laying down on the ground however is not really considered planking no matter how much you resemble a plank.
think I’ll leave it at that, however if you require any further differences, I would be more than happy to supply them.