No Explanations Necessary
Conversations are especially abuzz since the day Beyoncé dropped Lemonade. The mention of “Becky with the good hair” has ruffled the feathers of some White women, some more notable than others. Context, familiarity, and sensitivity ranges greatly depending on who participates in these conversations. It is neither unusual for Black women to reference this anecdote, nor unlikely for White women to be curious, or in this instance angry, about this term.
Usually, I love these kinds of conversations. I enjoy a respectable contention of ideas that can be navigated among those who discuss it with dexterity and tact. I find strength and respect in ones ability to defend their position, even if others disagree, because the space to dissent should always exist. But this is different for me. This is one conversation I refuse to have, particularly, with a White woman. I refuse to explain why something resonates with or empowers me as a Black woman. In this instance, I refuse to rework, reword, or remix a concept to make it more palatable.
I’m not here for it!
I can’t help but also notice that whenever Beyoncé discussed women’s empowerment in the form of “Bills, Bills, Bills,” “Ring The Alarm,” “Irreplaceable,” or “Single Ladies,” White feminists sang along proudly. However with Lemonade’s intense focus on Black (female) empowerment, the sing-along ended abruptly. The simple mention of “Becky with the good hair” drowned out other topics to which anyone could relate, such as perseverance, insecurity, forgiveness and healing; and left Black women othered (once again).
White people have never had to explain anything. The interest to dissect and explain these types of phenomena has always been one-sided. For Black people on the other hand, not understanding the power and privileges afforded to White people poses too great a risk and is not conducive to our survival. This reality is as non-negotiable as it ever was. That anything empowering to Black people is ever questioned inherently suggests that one cannot understand why it exists, and thereby, hesitates to validate Black (female) empowerment as a form of resistance that seeks no approval, least of all, from those who benefit from our oppression.
I refuse, and I welcome you to join me in refusing to have these conversations. Enclaves of resistance cannot exist without the proper boundaries in place to bring about solidarity, and the courage to take action, or in this case, inaction. There is nothing to explain. We think, we feel, we relate, and so, we are!
You’re so privileged. I bet you think this song is about you…
Perhaps someone will humor you and give you the clarity you seek to allay your concerns of what you perceive as threatening. I will not. I am not even willing to waste my time explaining why your lack of understanding, is understandable. It’s far too onerous and exhausting to educate you about your miseducation. Besides, explaining how I identify and what empowers me is tacit agreement that I deem you worthy of the privilege that resigns you to be so unaware.
I recommend you read a book, and, I can do you a far better favor. I’ve compiled a list of questions for White people, some as crass as possible, so you may understand how ridiculous it feels to be questioned about your culture or identity, and why I can’t be bothered. Here goes:
1. Why do you steal…everything?
2. Can you give me back what you stole?
3. Don’t you wish you had melanin? You’d age better…
4. Why didn’t you hire me?
5. Why did you fire me?
6. How could you disagree with reparations for Black people? You’ve paid other groups you oppressed. Are you racist or something?
7. So, your privilege doesn’t have anything to do with your success…???
8. Is it difficult to breathe with such thin nostrils? Is that why you took up pranayama breathing?
9. Can I touch your hair? Of course if I were you I wouldn’t have even asked permission…
10. You know I make $.68 to your $.77, right?
11. How could you be attracted to and afraid of Black men, at the same time?
12. Why is my culture a trend for you? Your culture…oh wait…never mind.
13. Why are you mad though?
14. Do you think about Indigenous People on Thanksgiving?
15. You didn’t know the Black Panthers created WIC? I thought you would since most people on welfare are White…
16. By “ghetto” you mean neighborhoods intended for White people, right?
17. Your neighborhood has never been gentrified?! I thought that happened to everyone…!
18. Why do you think I would want to explain my preferences for cultural affirmation to someone who benefits from my oppression?
19. What would make you think I know the answer to questions about all Black people?
20. You don’t celebrate Emancipation Day?! Oh, I won’t even ask about Juneteenth…
21. Isn’t it ironic that your privilege is the reason for your power and your ignorance? I know you people like irony…
22. You’re afraid of me? You shouldn’t be, I have neither the power nor resources to cause anywhere near as much damage as you’ve caused throughout history
23. Wait, you thought having a Black child or Black partner was the same as being knowledgeable about or understanding Black culture, history, or identity? Hmmm…
24. Wait, you don’t wrap your hair at night? Why not????
25. Would you mind if I ask you a whole bunch of questions about sunburn, osteoporosis, and heroin? I mean, how else will I figure this out?
26. Has anyone ever told you you’re pretty for a White girl?
27. Why is whiteness so fragile?
28. Why are White people so passive aggressive? Considering your quest for world domination, we’re all well past coy…
29. My forty acres though…?
30. Bourgeois Feminism not working out for you? Have you considered Womanism? Nope, I’m not willing to explain what this is either…!