Humbleness, Humility, and Their Racial Connotations

I have issues with people’s obsession with humbleness and humility. Nine times out of ten people only talk about those traits when discussing PoC & even then what they really mean is something different. What people really mean is they want you to be submissive and self deprecating to the point of developing self esteem issues.

I also know damn well I’m not the only one who’s noticed that those terms only seem to come out as insults when talking about confident PoC.

When Beyoncé made Bow Down, how many people came out the woodwork to say they though she was “arrogant”?

How many people say the same thing of Nicki Minaj? Folks say she’s “full of herself” and they want to “take her down a notch” all the time.

How many discussions center around the fact that people hate rappers bragging about what they have while ignoring context for why they are?

How many people straight up hate Kanye without even taking the time to really look at his actions or look at his backstory?

People talk shit about Rihanna day in and day out about how they hate her cockiness.

On the flip side of that, how many people (some of the same people) praise white celebrities for their confidence? It’s been talked about before, but look at how obsessed people are with Robert Downey Jr. There’s a whole meme on tumblr about how people can’t tell the difference between Robert Downey Jr. and Tony Stark and people fucking love it. I’m being dead ass serious when I say I’ve never seen anyone, especially anyone in the media, say that Robert Downey Jr.  needs to be more “humble.”

Why is cockiness acceptable from Robert Downey Jr. but not from Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Kanye, Rihanna, or any rapper ever? That question is largely rhetorical because I’m sure we all know the answer to that.

I’m not gonna make any friends saying this, but I really feel like it’s a subconscious form of racism. It’s so subtle that I see that type of speech/thought coming from PoC (Black people in particular) just as much as white folks.

This is one of those times where I’m kinda left questioning myself. I’ve seen it so many times though that I’ve detected a definite pattern and I’m pretty damn sure I’m right.

UPDATE: 9/28/2013

Based on the reaction I got for making this simple observation, I’m now 100% positive I’m right. I had Black men in my mentions telling me I should be more concerned about Black men choosing to date white women or claiming that I was “defending Jay-Z’s white gaze.” Along with that kind of nonsense though, I got a flood of people telling me that they’ve noticed the same thing. The very strong reactions from people on both sides of this issue tells me that there is definitely something here. If we’re gonna make any process on the anti-racist front, this is definitely a topic worth exploring in depth.

Totally Biased: Kamau Speaks with Tim Wise (Extended Interview)

One thing Tim said in this interview stuck out to me in particular:

“If you don’t like white allyship in general, that’s a problem. If you don’t like the fact that every now and then, those of us who are trying to be allies screw up, then you’re not really prepared for this work because that’s what people do. They make mistakes, they screw up, they don’t treat each other very kindly. We’ve got a lot bigger fish to fry than to sit and fight amongst each other about who has the best and most responsible Facebook page or the most responsible and respectful twitter feed. The history of white allyship is way too important for me or anyone else to sort of walk away from it because we get beef with somebody.”

What the holy shit is that?! He just insinuated that if we don’t like white allies, we shouldn’t be doing anti-racist work. He just insinuated that if we don’t like the fact that white allies constantly fuck up, we’re not “ready” for this. He just insinuated that the criticism that white allies (namely himself) gets is based around Facebook pages and twitter feeds.

This is the man that people herald as some type of “savior” to the anti-racism movement! This man just went on national television and tone policed a massive swath of the movement, dismissed his most vocal critics (who just so happen to be WoC) as “trolls,” downplayed everything he’s done up to that point, and spewed out some of the most hypocritical statements I have ever heard come out of a human mouth. While he did this, Kamau sat there and ate that mess up like it was a three course meal from a five star restaurant.

In my very humble opinion, it is way past time for people to stop being lulled into a false sense of security by Tim Wise’s words and actually listen to what this fool is telling you. He’s shown us time and time again that he is no “ally” in the true sense of the word. What he’s telling us is that he is an attention loving white man who thinks that white “allies” like him are, and should be, front and center in the anti-racism movement. He thinks that white “allies” are so damn important that if you don’t like them or you have questions/comments about them, you need to get the hell out the movement. He does go on to say that white allies shouldn’t look at this as “missionary work,” and I do believe that he does think that’s true. He doesn’t look at this as “missionary work” at all. No! He’s here to get his name in the news and make some good ass money while he’s at it.

“Black children have no value in the eyes of White America.”

That was a phrase I wrote about six months ago that garnered a lot of controversy. People rushed to tell me how wrong I was. Countless amounts of people told me I was exaggerating, I was making things up, and that I was the racist one for pointing this out. However, that statement is one that I still stand behind to this day because it still holds true.

Just this morning there was a story about a white Dallas man who shot an 8 year old black child in the face while he was playing tag outside his apartment complex. This story isn’t an outlier unfortunately. There are so many stories of white people deeming Black children a threat or nuisance and either assaulting or killing them.

However, every time something like this happens, it get dismissed as an “isolated incident.” We get told over and over that it was just one person doing something horrible and there’s no pattern involved. When we try to point out that things like this have happened before, and the continued dehumanization of Black children in the media contributes to it, we’re told that we are “imagining things.” Meanwhile, the media tries to understand and humanize the killer while demonizing the victim. The most famous example of this to date is the Trayvon Martin case.

Anyone who paid even the slightest bit of attention couldn’t help but notice the character assassination carried out by the media and society at large on Trayvon, and later Rachel Jeantel. People were quick to brand him a thug, gang member, and threat to George Zimmerman. Lies were spread about how stole from the convenience store he went to and how he was armed when he confronted Zimmerman. Pictures were spread on the internet of “Trayvon” wearing a grill and with tattoos, but it was soon proven those pictures weren’t even of him.

Rachel Jeantel, a woman who speaks three languages better than I can speak one, was called ghetto, combative, and uneducated. People, both Black and white, made fun of her weight, her hair, the way she spoke, and her skin tone. Society was ready to assume so many things about Trayvon and Rachael simply because they were Black teenagers. Even though all those assumptions were proven false they still persist to this day.

Things like this happen on a daily basis, both on the national scale and in our day to day lives. So six months after I first said it, that statement still rings true. In some ways, I feel the need to expand it. Black children, Black teenagers, and even Black adults have no value in the eyes of White America. We are, at best, an inconvenience and at worst an outright threat to their way of life.

Twitter Rant of the Day: The Problem with White Feminism

I’m at the point where I really think it’s time that people stop giving a platform to these racist, transphobic, ableist “feminists.” These feminists don’t give a fuck about trans women, WoC, disabled women, poor women, or anyone who falls outside of their comfort zone. They fuck up like it’s their day job and dismiss any criticism as people being “divisive” or “hating” on them. They only listen to the people who blow smoke up their asses and try to silence the people offering relevant criticisms. Instead of waiting for these people to change (because they never will) hit them where it hurts, their wallet.

Stop buying their books, visiting their websites, or going to speeches. Stop supporting the websites that support them. Start giving time, support, and attention to the trans women, WoC, disabled women, and poor women who have been ignored. Start paying these women for the hard work they do both online and offline. Give the women who have been shunned and ignored by mainstream feminism a platform. Stop looking at these women as “free labor.” Stop asking that they write “for exposure.” Stop trolling their blogs and twitter accounts for content that you can jack and pretend like you thought of it all by yourself. Start paying these women and paying attention to these women like you do the white feminists who fuck up on the regular.

If feminism is ever going to be truly intersectional and inclusive, it has to start giving attention to people other than the cis, white, able-bodied, upper middle class woman. Until that happens, feminism will always have a problem. As it stands, the mainstream feminist movement is not for everyone. It has a lot of work to do before it becomes a truly inclusive movement.

Microagression Moment

I originally posted this on my tumblr blog but I feel like it deserves a home here too. This is something I still experience everyday and I’m sure I will for the rest of my life. So while it is an older post, it’s still very valid to my everyday life. I’m sure a lot of PoC out there can relate to this.

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The worst racial microaggression I experience everyday has to be that feeling of not being welcome anywhere I go. There isn’t a public place I can go where I truly feel like I belong there or that I’m truly welcome there.

A perfect example of this is what I experienced a few days ago. I went to the grocery store down the street and everyone, from the cashiers to the customers, was staring at me like I had five heads. The cashiers were looking at me like I was going to rob the place, the lady giving out samples of cold noodles gave me a glare like I murdered her first born child in front of her, and one of the customers had a death grip on his wife like I was going to steal her away at any moment. (Although, thinking back, I should probably find that man and thank him for being the only person on Earth to not automatically assume I’m straight. But that’s a topic for another time.)

Other people may be able to brush off the looks and stares, but I’ve gotten to the point where it’s just worn me down completely. I don’t like leaving the house now, not because I don’t want to do anything, but because I don’t want to deal with the stares and glares. I don’t want to deal with the whispers behind my back and I definitely don’t want to deal with the employees who just happen to show up on every single aisle I happen to be on. It’s exhausting and I simply don’t want to deal with it anymore. I shouldn’t have to deal with it at all, but unfortunately I do. Such is the life of a Black woman in America.