When you, like Perez Hilton, equate being ‘fierce’ with black womanhood, you are not simply complimenting black women’s perceived awesome sassiness. You are saying that we are overtly strong, both emotionally and physically, which leads to us being denied the facets of femininity that white women are so easily given. This is dangerous in ways I cannot completely describe, but I’m going to try: Black women are raped more often than white women, because our ‘fierceness’ is linked to ideas of sexual promiscuity – rapists believe we ‘want it more’. When we are raped the police believes us less than white women, because our ‘fierceness’ makes them think we could have fought back if we really wanted to. When we are beaten by our partners, the same applies. When we argue with people, we are seen as immediately aggressive. If we raise our voices or get angry, it isn’t because you’ve done something stupid, it’s because we are black and we are female and our innate ‘fierceness’ makes us unreasonable and unworthy of being listened to. When we lose our children to violence, when we have to survive on food stamps and benefits, even when we go to prison, it’s all a-ok because black women are the fiercest of the fierce and so none of that is a problem and we can handle anything that’s thrown at us – and all of this has lead to a point where when we knock on a door to ask for help because our car has broken down, we are not given hugs and a cup of tea. We are shot in the face at point blank range because we are fierce, and therefore aggressive, unpredictable, and worthy of the mocking, fear and scorn that the world looks at us with.
Quote is from her good essay The ‘Fierce Black Woman’ Inside You Doesn’t Exist on Poejazzi, in response to Perez Hilton’s racist, misogynoiristic tweet “Inside every gay man is a fierce black woman!” Must read essay! Now, the very lazy response is for people to pretend like Perez is the only White gay man who has ever said this (as White privilege involves persistent attempts to individualize systemic issues as to deny accountability) or pretend that his specific awfulness (and yes, he’s awful) is the issue, not misogynoir itself which makes this is a common thing that many Black women hear every single day. I (that would be me, @thetrudz/@GradientLair) directly tweeted him too. His response to every Black woman was ignorance that got increasingly worse over time that day, including him eventually enacting Godwin’s Law.
If you notice carefully in this conversation, no one suggested that gay men do not experience homophobia or that when the conversation is about some Black women who treat gay men as “sidekicks” (which of course is wrong) is discussed, it should be discussed. So that derailment in the name of intersectionality (while of course ironically ignoring intersectionality origins) is not needed when it only happens as a gay man is being called out for misogynoir. As for the other predictable derailment, Perez having a Latina mother does not mean this is not about White supremacy, that he no longer has White-passing privilege, that his male privilege has evaporated nor means he is incapable of misogynoir and anti-Blackness. Finally, the derailment via male privilege and misogynoir—that Black women are empty and just “copying” and appropriating gay men—is not needed.
I know Perez thought this was an acceptable response to Pia’s video and she’s a Black woman but that is irrelevant. Privilege does not evaporate based on who you know that doesn’t have it.
Black women are not costumes to be worn or objects solely for consumption, period.
"They rap but they don’t know what true rap is."
"They play rock, but they don’t know how to rock.”
"They’re funny when they don’t talk about being ___."
Always with the unnecessary commentary.
"The thrill of appropriation lies in accessing the perceived authenticity… Transfer to a white body elevates the action. It’s no longer primitive because while nonwhite culture is assumed to be rooted in instinct, white culture is one of intent… White people clamoring to up their cred by appropriating nonwhite culture do so hoping to be rewarded for choices that are falsely seen as inherent in people of color." —Ayesha Siddiqi
I’m sorry about this. Nobody who’s of one ethnicity should ever be allowed to enjoy things created by people of other ethnicities. Nobody who isn’t Asian is allowed to use paper any more. Nobody who is not Native American may eat corn or potatoes. You only get to do something if it was created by the ethnicity which you belong to, otherwise you’re just appropriating it and can’t possibly understand it.
i found the white kid
I love how when people point out how white people should stop:
- claiming credit to have invented shit other people created
- only celebrating cultural practices when white people are involved while excluding the people who created it
- redefine cultural practices over the voices of the people who create them
- redefine cultural practices incorrectly, out of ignorance
….that white people assume the ONLY POSSIBLE SOLUTION is to never use them. That is to say, given the option of listening to, respecting, and giving credit to originators is so fucking impossible for them, that the only answer is that no one could use anything.
At which point i am entirely here for that. If they can’t be respectful… LEAVE OUR SHIT ALONE
"The Issue of Race"
This is a 1992 panel discussion from The Phil Donahue Show. Still relevant.
Excerpts from Part 1 (above)
"After being asked, ‘What do you know how to do here,’ one of the you brothers on the screen said, ‘Rob, steal, and kill.’ What did [Christopher] Columbus know how to do when he came here? Rob the native people of their land, kill them, and exploit them. What is in the best tradition of capitalism in this society? Burning, looting, rape, and pillage. This is something that is as integral to the United States as breathing. The problem with race in this country is that white people in this country do not want to confront their own history and live up to the consequences of that history. And when you don’t confront the truth, the truth will ultimately destroy you." —Dhoruba al-Mujahid bin Wahad
"When we deal with the issue of white racism, white people don’t deal with the fact that they are the ones who are sicker than anybody else in this particular issue. When you deal with the question of race, you cannot deal with ‘What’s wrong with these African people?’ The thing that happened in South Central started with a malady in the justice system where white people could not see white men who had did something against black men and penalize them for what everybody in this country knows that they did. So, the problem of white racism is that we don’t look in-depth and do these little documentaries on white people and what’s wrong with it." —Sister Souljah
Excerpts from Part 2 [x]
Phil Donahue: “So, my pleading to Mr. bin Wahad and Dr. [Alan] Keyes, in the white liberal tradition of, ‘Gee, you don’t totally dislike us [white people] do you—”
Jonathan Kozol: “Not to criticize you Phil, but naturally I’d like to feel I’m a nice guy and I hope black people would like me…But that’s wasted energy. The issue isn’t whether they like you and me, or not. The issue is whether they have an even shot in this society. They can’t afford to worry about our injured feelings. And they shouldn’t waste time on them.”
Excerpt from Part 3 [x]
"Latin America is essentially a conglomeration of European settler states. The conquistadores went and did the same thing that the English did here [in the United States]. When we look at the compositions of these societies, we see that at the top are light skin descendants of these conquistadores and at the bottom are native people and black descendants of Africans. White skin privilege is a European ideal and a concept that was exploited with the economic system, their religious philosophy, and imposed on people of color. So when we talk about Latin@s, let’s understand what we’re saying here. We’re talking about Latin@s who, for the most part, have African blood in them. They have internalized racism just like everybody else. When we look at Asian Americans, many that initially came here came to work the railroads. They were treated like dogs. But when we see a lot of Asians that come to the U.S. today, one of the first words they learn in their lexicon is ‘nigger.’ The United States’ major contradiction around the issue of race is white skin male privilege. If we don’t attack that, don’t analyze that, and don’t begin to deal with that, then we have a problem." —Dhoruba al-Mujahid bin Wahad
Excerpt from Part 4 [x]
"There was a period of time, in this country, after Reconstruction where African people owned a lot of land, businesses, and did a lot of things. What happened was the American government, the Ku Klux Klan, and other organizations organized in smashing that effort. It’s not that we haven’t tried to own lands and organize businesses, it’s that if you’re African in America, or in Latin America, or in the Caribbean, or in the continent, you will be hunted no matter what you do. They do not want us to survive and become self-sufficient. And you can say ‘no,’ but you haven’t lived this life." —Sister Souljah
Excerpts from Part 5 [x]
"You’re making a moral appeal to a country that doesn’t have a moral conscience. When white people feel angry about abortion, they come out in the thousands up to the millions to say ‘this is what we believe about abortion.’ Where is the white outcry against white racism that murders African people around this entire globe? It doesn’t exist. So, who are these good white people?! I want to meet them…" —Sister Souljah
"I want to say that the claim that there’s no conscience among white people in America is a great example of racism. I don’t think the face of racism is any prettier when it’s black racism than when it’s white racism. [In the background, Sister Souljah interjects “There’s no such thing as black racism.”] When Martin Luther King started his Civil Rights Movement, he put his conscience before the American people and shamed an overwhelming majority of the white people by the strength of his moral argument. [In the background, Sister Souljah interjects, “Then they killed him.”] […] He recognized that he was fighting for the reform of a racist America in the basis of the views held by the dominant white society. For that reason, he reached them and he so transformed them that you could pass the Civil Rights legislation—If you refute what I say by pointing out that Martin Luther King was assassinated, I can point out to you that Malcolm X was assassinated by a black man who hated white people.” —John Silber
"No. Let me say this. Phil, I got to fay this. You always go to white males to tell us what’s happening. This is such a lie, a crock of crap because the only reason political leadership in the United States conceded to integration, conceded to civil rights for black people is because the majority of the people in the world of the 1960s were ascending to political power and independence. The U.S. could not claim moral leadership of the world and enslave black people in a system of Jim Crowism. So, don’t make it like Martin Luther King appealed to the better half or the morality of white America. White America did what was expedient politically.”—Dhoruba al-Mujahid bin Wahad
Excerpt from Part 6, the final [x]
"I think white people have to spend more time talking about the injustices which we perpetrate. I’d like to see books written, in the future, not about the problems of the underclass but about the psychological distortions of the people who created an underclass." —Jonathan Kozol
My great-grandfather could, and did, pass for white. His only son, my grandfather, was darker and couldn’t. My grandfather told me a story of his youth that must have taken place in 1938 or 1939 in Jim Crow Louisiana. He accompanied his daddy on one of his jobs hauling things. My great-grandfather went in the front of the business as a white man. They sent his “boy” (my grandfather) around back. My grandfather waited in the back, alone. His father, whom he was named after, let these people think that his only beloved son was no relation to him to preserve the lie of his whiteness. Because his whiteness helped him provide for his dark housekeeper wife, and his only son, my great-grandfather gave up part of who he was in order to survive in a world that was turned against him.
I used to straighten my hair. It was not out of an attempt to become white. It was an attempt to be invisible. My nappy hair is the most prominently identifying of my ethnic features. When my hair is straight I am confused for Latino, Vietnamese, Pacific Islander, sometimes even Italian. I have never said that I am anything other than what I am. But I have seen differences in how I am treated that cannot be entirely imaginary.
Note: Anecdotes about people who are officially classed as “non-white” yet function as “white” are always interesting because they reveal that being “white” is functional rather than exclusively based on genetics or ancestry.There is a sizable number of non-white people who may be able to function as “white” but choose not to do so and while they may be mistaken as “white” at first glance their functioning soon tells the story. If the author’s great-grandfather had not made the expedient choice and refused to send his son to the back, the revelation of his black ancestry would have been unavoidable. Of course, his ability to function as “white” would have then damaged his ability to provide for his attempted family. “Whiteness” is predicated on unjustly inhibiting and mistreating non-white people. Non-white people do the math and do their best to navigate in this system and cannot be blamed for these kinds of hard choices. The Racists (White Supremacists) who force people to make these kind of decisions and produce the conditions where they are necessary are most to blame.
"Whiteness" is a political class that grants exclusive benefits for those who are members and who will agree to function in a certain way. And this certain way involves the global mistreatment and dominance of those who are classed as non-white, in all major areas of people activity (economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex and war).
That said, the heartfelt essay quoted above, is well-worth the read. In addition to the social phenomenon known as “passing” it also deals with “stop-and-frisk” and anti-blackness.