Comments on Conversations Overheard

Today, I overheard a conversation between a white-adjacent woman and two Black people. One of the Black people, a Black man, was describing what seemed to be a discriminatory experience he had this morning. I couldn’t hear what happened to him. He apparently decided not to check the person who discriminated against him because she’s his elder. While he’s talking to two Black women to get their opinions on the situation, the white-adjacent woman chimes in and tells the Black man he should speak up, even if it’s awkward/difficult, because in the end, it helps everyone.

The Black woman tries to explain to her that it’s tiring as a Black person, or other person of color, to constantly let people know that their actions are discriminatory/racist and therefore, Black people or other people of color may not always speak up in these situations. This white-adjacent woman then proceeds to inform the group she is “half-Hispanic,” so she has to deal with discrimination too. I hear the Black people pause because I’m sure they were thinking, as I was, you CANNOT be serious. Did you just compare appearing to be white, though you may not be, with CLEARLY APPEARING BLACK and IMPLY THE LEVELS OF DISCRIMINATION YOU FACE AS A WHITE-APPEARING WOMAN ARE EQUAL TO THE LEVELS OF DISCRIMINATION AN OBVIOUSLY BLACK PERSON FACES?!!! I then thought, Furthermore, did you just have the audacity to tell Black people how they should deal with racism as though your white-looking ass is a racism expert?!! The caucasity!

Though this woman is technically a minority, she clearly hasn’t been treated like one because what she said was mighty white. When white people aren’t denying something is racist, they’re telling people of color how to handle racist things…which they don’t seem to understand…is an exercise of white privilege because the only thing white people know about racism is how to perpetrate it. This is not to say white people can’t educate themselves about racism. They can, but to fully understand how pervasive and systemic racism is, you have to be a person of color. That’s just how it works.

I hear the Black woman respond by saying, “Clearly not to the same extent. Clearly not to the same extent,” referring to the level of racism each woman faces. Then the Black woman ends the conversation, as I would have, because clearly this woman needs an education, and as Sweet Brown would say, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

Just when I thought I wouldn’t hear anything else that would make my blood boil today, I hear a Black woman proclaim to two people, a Black woman and man, that Cardi B has taken issue with strippers being left out of the #MeToo movement. This woman said she was done with Cardi B when she heard that. Both the man and the woman ask, as I would have, “What’s wrong with that?”

So this Black woman, let’s call her Jane, goes on to explain she has “less sympathy” for strippers if they get assaulted because they’ve put themselves in a situation where their job is to appeal to men’s most base instincts, and they “assume the risk” that things may get out of hand in a situation such as this. I thought this was one of the most ridiculous things I’d ever heard. This stance is presented as though it’s based on logic when all it really is is victim-blaming, which both members of her audience were quick to point out, as I would have been.

Following Jane’s “logic,” the only time a woman deserves sympathy when she is raped or assaulted is if she’s just walking down the street minding her business and someone jumps out of the bushes, grabs her and rapes/assaults her. Oh, wait. Jane might not even have sympathy for a woman then because she shouldn’t have been on the street without protection. Right, Jane?

As many of us know, a man jumping out of the bushes isn’t often the scenario in which a woman is assaulted/raped. It’s usually going to be someone she knows and saying that a woman “assumed the risk” by putting herself in a situation in which assault can occur takes responsibility away from the person who committed the crime and places it on the victim.

Needless to say, I was disgusted by this woman’s comments and lost all the respect I had for her. I think it’s sad to hear a Black woman not have sympathy for other Black women who are victims of sexual assault.

I looked up what Cardi B said, and she was actually talking about video vixens being left out of the #MeToo conversation, which I think is just as important and valid a point. Video vixens aren’t considered to be models or actresses, though they act and are styled to be physically appealing, because they’re mostly women of color. Cardi B said no one cares if video vixens are assaulted because people consider them to be “hoes.” (I put this word in quotes because as someone who comes from a feminist and sex-positive perspective, I know that hoes, whores, sluts, tramps, and whatever other disparaging words you can come up with to describe someone who is perceived to be having sex with several different partners do not exist and calling someone one of these names is just sex-shaming or, in most instances, woman-shaming. I didn’t come to this realization on my own. Feminista Jones said it during one of her Twitter Live sessions.)

I’m thankful for Cardi B’s comments. They let us know that while it’s great so many of the sexual crimes of men are being exposed and women are finally getting the chance to tell their stories and, in many instances, are being listened to, we still have a ways to go.

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