I recently took a bit of a social media hiatus because of an especially trying week on both Twitter and Facebook. With defenders of Bill Maher saying n*gga and Bill Cosby rape apologists, my soul could bear no more and I had to take a step back. I titled this post what I did because of how Black women are routinely treated throughout social media spaces and how it is a microcosm how we are treated in the real world. I often hear “social media isn’t real” or “it’s not that serious” and I have to push back on that. Real people are behind those avis that you see stalking and harassing Black women. Real people are sharing their stories of victimization, pain, triumph, and sorrow. Words can and do hurt, even coming from an account with a bald eagle and American flag as their picture.
A little more backstory about why I had to step away from social media. You would think by now that the general consensus from “liberals” is that white people saying any variation of the “n word” is not okay. Also, that Bill Maher has a history of saying extremely racist, Islamaphobic, and bigotted things on his show. But of course, as is the case for any white man behaving badly, people had to come to his defense. Mind you, nothing bad was actually going to happen to him. He’s a rich, white man in America. The definition of an untouchable. So in my attempts to explain to people who claim to be anti-racist, liberal, “post racial” I was met with extreme pushback. From insinuating that I have never watched his show in full and that I am taking the various times he’s said n*gga out of context. #WTF To my, and others, rightful indignation being dismissed because “there are more important things to worry about.” As if, as adults, we aren’t constantly multi-tasking. It’s absolutely possible to be mad at Bill Maher and keep tabs on what the Tampico Demon (Donald Trump) is doing to further ruin our lives.
So much of the responses I’ve received to my comments are specifically because I am a Black woman. This is not to say that Black men who were making similar statements didn’t receive pushback, but they were approached in drastically different ways. As a Black woman, when people disagree with me, there is no intention to listen or think critically. There is no exchange of ideas.I might as well be talking to brick walls. The responses are all thinly veiled assumptions about my intelligence and gaslighting. These types of responses are mainly from white men, who cannot fathom conceding to the fact that a young, Black woman is right or may have insight that they do not. My lived experiences, educational background, and research be damned. I, somehow, don’t understand the history of n*gger or how racism works. I’ve had a white man say “As a white man, I know I don’t fully understand your experience with racism, but you’re still wrong (sic)”
Then we move on to the growing trend of Facebook suspending the accounts of Black people, mainly women, who speak out against racism and misogyny. Because calling out racism is the real racism. These same Black people are inundated with racist trolls calling them everything but a child of God, doxxing them, and threatening their physical safety with no repercussions. I believe Didi Delgado put it best in her post “Mark Zuckerberg Hates Black People.”
Next, there was the abhorrent article Yahoo Beauty wrote on a good friend of mine. (After catching hell, it looks like they finally removed it.) This person announced her pregnancy and was planning to write about it because that’s what she does. She’s an award-winning author who can write circles around most of Yahoo’s staff. The author of the article in question, in fact, ripped whole passages from blog posts my friend had written years ago. As the kicker, she used the government names of her family within the article, one of whom happens to be a 10-year-old. This may not seem like the biggest deal in the world to you, but if you knew the well-documented history of death threats, rape threats, and stalkers that have followed her for years for daring to speak out against injustices and be a voice for Black women, you would certainly understand how scary it was to have her families names put out to a huge audience. And judging by the comments on the article, a racist, misogynistic, vile, and hateful audience.
Add to all of these incidents the countless posts, articles, articles, etc that show that everything Black women do is politicized, I’m just tired. The way we wear our hair, our educational paths, the careers we choose, our romantic relationships, whether we choose to have children or not, etc. Nothing we, as Black women, do is seen as individualistic. Everything is scrutinized to hold some deeper meaning about the culture. So often we internalize this burden to our own detriment. Remaining at schools with racist policies to show racists that “we’re the bigger person/ won’t let them stop us.” Working in a soul-sucking corporate culture in order to “prove we belong.” no matter how hard they try to push us out. Staying in toxic relationships because we don’t want to be a “stereotypical single mother/ single Black woman.” All this effort we put in, only to still be seen as less than, ignored, and pushed aside, at best. At worst we are harassed, admonished, and called an embarrassment.
I’m tired. I’m angry. I’m frustrated. I surround myself with other Black women that understand me, and we comfort each other in order to combat the palpable disdain for our presence in the world. But when society does everything in its power to show you that it doesn’t value you, there is only so much your sister circle can do. I hope that someday this won’t be the case, but I know it won’t be within my lifetime.