problematic white women and Black men: a legacy

lena dunham is one of the best examples of White Feminism

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a tweet from lena dunham on 3/7/2010 referring to “a little African American rodent.” this is not the first time dunham has tweeted or said racially insensitive comments.

Lemme catch you up on some pop culture that should not matter, but does because it explains misogynoir, or anti-Black misogyny, very well. There are going to be a lot of “hot takes” on this, but my reason for publishing this is not to get views or notoriety, but to center Black women’s voices. You can read these tweets from Black women (blowticious and eveewing), but you may need the context, which you’ll find below the cut.

In a Lenny Letter released yesterday, lena dunham displayed intense white feminist entitlement to Black men’s bodies, time, and energy. dunham took it a step further by attempting to read his mind because Beckham did not show her attention, attention she was not due. In an attempt at humor, lena dunham “accidentally” continued the fetishization and criminalization of Black men by white women. In short, dunham was projecting her whiteness and insecurity onto the Black body of athlete Odell Beckham Jr when she stated:

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“he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards.”

Once the internet got a hold of this self deprecating white feminism, dunham tried to make it up with the following set of tweets:

lena dunham and amy schumer used white woman sarcasm (and racism) to deflect the very serious issue:

this tweet has since been deleted, but user thewayoftheid captured a screenshot
according to schumer, a bandmate tweeted the offensive tweet from her account

dunham proceeded to make it worse by talking about continuing to attempt non consensual grinding (read: sexual assault) on Black actor Michael B. Jordan

Now here is where the misogynoir really comes in. Xavier Burgin, a Black filmmaker reached out to schumer on twitter that same day.

Burgin, dunham, and schumer talked. Burgin started a conversation about it on his account, stating that he wished he “had deferred to Black women.” dunham has since released an apology (which, as Tomarra Wagoner pointed out after I published this piece, does not actually apologize for her racism):

So what’s wrong with the situation? As evidenced above, Black women are now talking about their consistent critiques of not only white feminism, but dunham and schumer specifically. These critiques have been ignored, yet when a Black man speaks up, not only do they listen, they set a meeting with him.

My expectations for white people (and by proxy, white women) are very very low, so I don’t expect them to be accountable for their actions, their racism, or their obliviousness. Although white people really should be held accountable for their actions, their racism, and their obliviousness, the person who I predict growing the most from this is us watching it play out and Burgin himself.

This piece was not written to chastise Xavier Burgin. The question now is how do we do a better job of listening to Black women in the moment, rather than after the moment? And how do we use what we learned from Black women responsibly, rather than “learning how to mask [toxic masculinity] enough to get what [we] want,” as blowticious stated. We need to do better as Black men, and we need to listen to Black women because #BlackWomenDidThat. In short, this is the question we need to ask ourselves:

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