Do you think of your momma or grandma as an “inarticulate black welfare mother with 19 children?” If not you might be surprised to learn that certain–largely white–gays are paying big bucks to have one of their own dress up in drag and black-face as Shirley Q. Liquor, to be the MAMMY they never had but always wanted. What you are about to see is real and apparently this guy makes 75K—to—90k a year off of racism, classism and sexism—masked as satire—of an alleged childhood beloved black nanny.
So, in the traditional way in which black people begin their stories, “What had happened was . . .”
I attended this event where one of my best male friends was hosting. Upon arriving my best male friend comes and says, pejoratively and with great amusement, “Your friend is over there,” hinting to a black woman who every time I see her she gives me what I can the “stank eye.” And, if you are a heterosexual black woman you are quite familiar with either giving the “stank eye” or receiving the “stank eye.” Long story short, my best friend decides to play what I call, “The Great Black Male Conciliator.” He decides to prompt the “stank eye” woman to reconcile with me. I should state at this point in the story, I am somewhat hazy on why every time I see this woman she gives me the “stank eye.” Anyways, she comes over and tries to be nice to me and, of course, it comes across as completely disingenuous.
So, after leaving the event, it came to me why this woman continues to give me the “stank eye.” And, it has everything to do with my best friend. The “stank eye” woman romantically likes my best friend and perceives me as competition. Because she only gives me the “stank eye” when I am with him. So, I call him up and tell him this. And, of course, he denies it and says in the way black men say, “We are just friends. We worked together to get Barack Obama elected. We spent a lot of time together doing that, but we are just friends. I know for a fact she does not like me in that way.” And, all I could say was, “
Bullshit,you are completely impervious [let me use a smaller word, ignorant] of the privilege patriarchy gives you as a heterosexual man.”
Which brings us to the current discussion, “Are black men ignorant to how they engage their many female friends?”
On the last Friday of Women’s Her-story Month, I want to honor black women who are what I call “border-crossers.” Border crossing is centered in the margins and “what moves people” . . . the fluid transmissions and the mergers. It comes out of womanism and black feminism. It comes out the frustration with borders and boundaries. It comes out of the need to build sustained and people-centered movements.
In 2008, when I first read “Gay is the New Black” on the cover of the Advocate, I CRINGED at its implications. Even as I write, “Gay is the New Black,” it is unsettling because it elides, obfuscates and erases many tensions and concerns. You may be asking, “Why speak about it now, three years after the article was published?” The answer is simple—I feel the need to talk about my concerns and fears on the matter because of the Obama Administration’s legal/political move to position/add gay people as a protected class of citizens.
This month Vibe Magazine featured an open letter from Karrine Steffans telling of her struggle to leave an abusive relationship. What Karrine Steffans is known for is her truth-telling first about the gender and sexual violence of being a “video vixen”in the rap industry and now she is known for her truth telling about her struggle to end her domestically violent relationship with her ex-husband. Of course, both forms of truth telling provoked great backlash from both men and women who believe that “a real woman keeps her mouth shut.” However, Ms. Karrine continues to speak her truth irrespective of how people interpret it.
After reading Ms. Steffans’ open letter to Vibe Magazine, my heart grieved for her and the countless women who struggle for various reasons to leave their abusive relationships. Overall, Ms. Steffans’ plea illumines the visceral complexities of domestic violence, love, trauma, and escape. Her letter reminded me of my mother and grandmother’s story of spousal abuse. In particular, how my mother continued to love a man who would beat her and other women senselessly. Yes, the open letter made my heart weep, but it was the depredating comments about Ms. Karrine Steffans on various websites that really pissed me off made me angry. So, in solidarity with Ms. Karrine Steffans, I have decided to write an open letter to all the people who responded negatively about her struggle to leave an abusive relationship.
Dear Negative Comment Writers,
This week on the Oprah show Tyler Perry shared with Oprah how as a child he was beaten senselessly by his father and that even now his father denies any wrongdoing. His father states, “If I had beaten your ass one more time, you probably would have been Barack Obama.”Of course, Oprah was stunned and I too was somewhat flabbergasted, but for a somewhat similar different reason. His father’s comment reminded me of something my mother recently said about how she must have done something right given that one day people will call me Dr. So and So. Mind you, my mother did not beat me or my sisters black and blue. For all intended purposes she was a good mother outside the fact that she was never meant to have children. Yes, I said she was never meant to have children which would mean that I future Dr. So and So would not be a living breathing thing which would not be necessarily a bad thing because I do not think non-existing things sit around moaning about their non-existence. When I say she was not meant to have children I am referring to the fact that my mother’s spirit like so many feminine spirits were meant to be free unencumbered by the trappings of domesticity and motherhood.
I’ve decided to start a school entitled, “I Know Who You Are.” I know it’s a very weird name for a school, but it encapsulates the purpose of the school. I am going to teach little girls how to recognize predators not only the predators that walk down the street and abduct them as they are walking to school or the predators that creep into their bed as they sleep, but predators that come in a non-threatening, “I love and worship you . . . I will give you the world . . . trust me I am your Prince/Princess . . . I will make everything right” manner, but who’s very presence is sinister and downright starved for the light that naive girls and women emit. Because their light tells a story of trust without boundaries, devotion without commitment, care without concern. Yes, they are what I call P.O.W.s—Push Over Women.
And, let me be honest, I can’t stand P.O.W.s. They irk me. All, I want to yell to them is, “Put your big girl drawls on and fight, shit . . . whatcha crying for, you better woman up.”But, I realize that sometimes this type of “I am a strong black woman” motivation is not the most effective in training P.O.W.s on how to recognize and fight predators. But, I result to such tactics because I know what it means to be a Push Over Woman and the daughter of a Push Over Woman. It means making men the center of your life. It means never listening to your inner voice . . . your intuition. It means loving a man who fundamentally hates himself and who can only experience fleeting moments of happiness when he is beating you senseless. It means meaningless groping and touching without mutual intimacy. It means telling your daughter to never depend on a man but showing her your constant dependence. Yes, I know what it means to be a P.O.W. an untrained naïve woman . . . a woman who does not realize the power she has.
“Feminism tells us that the personal is political. Therefore, feminism is a useful frame for helping me to make sense of the gender politics that may be at play in my dating life. When a card-carrying feminist goes on a date, it is a feminist issue, maybe a micro-level one, but a feminist issue nonetheless. In my facetious blaming of feminism, I simply meant that the confidence which it instills in women concerning their intellect and the often radical politics it causes us to espouse, can very often throw a monkey wrench in one’s dating game.” —Crunktastic, July 15, 2010
Wow, for me this quote is “church” as my high school mentee would say. Meaning, this quote is the truth on the level of canonical truth. I cannot count on my fingers, toes, and follicles of hair the number of black men I’ve dated who have placed me in what Crunktastic calls the “mind f*u$k” category or as I have come to refer to it as the mental masturbation category. Meaning, [in your best non-British intellectually laced Idris Alba’s voice] “I, black man, will date you, black feminist, for a set amount of time . . . give or take three months . . . slowly draining you, my sweet ebony Amazon, of your bookish, but devilishly witty comments . . . then I, black man, will slowly nibble at your “cute” feminist push backs about my male privilege then after that I will marry La’Keisha because she has relaxed hair, childbearing hips, believes in religious “submission” and will happily keep my house and cook my dinner.”
Okay, I know this is a caricature of the some of the men I’ve dated, but the truth remains the same as Crunktastic humorously and facetious writes that, “the confidence which [black feminism] . . . instills in women concerning their intellect and the often radical politics it causes us to espouse, can very often throw a monkey wrench in one’s dating game.” And, I would go even further and say that it throws hammers, nails, the kitchen sink, and, yes, even dry wall into the mix.