About All This Drama and Whatnot
My peoples. So this week has been a lot. I’ve been in the middle of an online firestorm for a Facebook status I posted, while I’ve spent the week in LA in meetings. I just landed back in Chicago, and I paid for that over-expensive ass, slow ass in-flight wifi to write this.
Folks outchea calling me everything but a child of God and churning out thinkpieces furiously, coming for my edges. Thank God I carry Jamaican Black Castor Oil with me at ALL TIMES. Lawd, I didn’t know that status would get all this attention because I’ve had less chill countless times. My well of chill is perpetually way drier than this.
I don’t know how to be quiet in the middle of people doing the most with the least in my name. So in spite of being told to leave it alone and let it blow over, here I am clarifying. Especially to my folks of LuvvNation who ride with me. Y’all are the ones who matter. And also, because some people I love and respect are being caught in the crosshairs and I don’t want them hurting behind this.
Now I want to make some things clear: I stand by what I said. I just want to make it plain this time and give it context because these new narratives being woven? Bruh. Nah. Some people are reaching like Stretch Armstrong to come up with what they think I said and meant. I’m impressed by the reaching!
First of all, the person behind Kinfolk Kollective thought my status was about her so her people ran through my profile CAPS CAPS CAPSing. And I’m like “Bruh. It wasn’t even about your fave.” I don’t follow her page so that conclusion was wrong, even with the WELP y’all keep thinking is your receipts, as if it wasn’t part of a larger thread I was replying to. I might be the side-eye queen but who do I need to lie to? Nobody.
Anywho, this issue kicked off because *one* mixed-race Black blogger/digital activist did something that I thought was fucked up and more than a tad hypocritical (and I am not naming her because I don’t want a witch hunt against her). A white lesbian woman emailed her and respectfully asked for understanding about something, and you would have thought this woman asked her to breastfeed her children and make jollof rice and chitlins over a potbellied stove.
Look up “doing the most with the least” and you will see this exchange. I won’t waste y’alls time with the details, but let me say this: some white people are carrying guilt, and if ultimately, we got certain Black folks using that guilt to get closer to white people which ensures THEIR OWN comfort in slick ways that only benefit them? I GOTTA call bullshit. I was addressing that particular case most of all.
But it got me thinking about the fact that there are people who use their marginalized categories to marginalize others, so I included a few examples of what I believe is problematic behavior that we engage in sometimes.
So I posted my status, and for the first couple of hours, all was well. Until all sorts of people saw their behavior in my status and felt personally offended and the shit went to hell in a flimsy handbasket. And here we are. 3 days later. Shit still going on.
From what I gather, the ones who are most upset are talmbout: I don’t like Black women. I don’t like African American women. I went Hollywood and got rich so now I’m pandering to white women. I don’t want Black women to be compensated for their work. Ok COMMES DES FACKONS, man. *face palm*
If I’m rich, my checks must be lost in the mail, but that’s neither here nor there. And the rest of the stuff is ridiculous because I identify as all of those things: Black, African-American and African. I’ve written about this in the past! Again, THE REACH IS REAAALLLL. Some folks are trying it.
Let’s get another thing clear: I want Black women to get these coins. Get these monies. We deserve to be compensated for our work. I’m ALWAYS talking about that and telling my fellow sisthrens to get paid. We WORK harder than anyone else for a fraction of the credit AND the coins.
But the way to do it is not by asking random white people to PayPal us $20 every time we answer a question in Facebook messages or on a platform we don’t even have control over. We are not obligated to teach them a damb thing but if we choose to do so in the form of answering a question, PayPal money ain’t reparations and some of y’all got these white folks out here thinking it is.
I’ve also seen it happen in FB groups that I’ve been in, where a Black woman basically asked for money for answering a white woman’s race-based question in the group. It was so uncomfortable to see. If any of my LGBTQ friends sent me an invoice for trying to get an understanding of the nuances of their realities that I might not be privy to, I’d be all “But…WHET?”
I want every Becky and Ethan to focus on systemic change, not PayPal tips.
Specifically, here’s why I think it’s problematic. White women — and white people in general — need to go to their places of influence and bring CHANGE back there. Don’t get over by giving me $5 on PayPal. Go back and hire a Black woman. Go back and pay a Black woman writer a fair wage. Go back and confront white supremacy and patriarchy in your own contexts. Asking for money in private settings feels like extortion to me and lets them off the hook in the wrong way, via private pocket change rather than public social change. I’m not with it.
I wasn’t talking about Patreon and folks otherwise getting support for their writing or their art. I wasn’t talking about people like Leslie Mac and Marissa of Safety Pin Box, who created a monthly toolkit with guides, and people can subscribe to. THAT is work.
I wasn’t talking about people actively putting their bodies on the line, like Netta. I wasn’t talking about people doing this movement work, like Charlene Carruthers of BYP100. I want any and every black woman to collect this coinage when you do that. GET PAID. But randomly eInvoicing for answering a concept in a walled garden is a business model that I can’t support. I think it does more harm than good. If you disagree, then cool.
I’m a free Black woman (shoutout to Jamilah Lemieux) who wants to see us ALL be free. And Becky an’ ’em can get this dragging often, because it is often deserved. I have snatched them by their brows and dragged them countless times, before and after November 8. I will continue to do so in the name of Sweet 5 lb 7 oz Black Baby Jesus in that manger. In the same token, for the ones who are ready to do the work, should we make them build a bridge so they can meet us on the other side? My feeling is yes.
Every gahtdamb day, I’m cheering sisthrens on. Meanwhile, folks talmbout I went Hollywood. Correction: I’ve been in this writing game for 14 years. After a looong journey, Hollywood came to me (bloop). Lawd, I JUST got “successful” 6 months ago when the book dropped. And I got here by being exactly who I am.
Much else of what has been said is just too damn out there and streeetched to even go into because people are just mad. TEW MUCH. And like I said. Folks are filling in the blanks and making up all types of stuff.
Look, I ain’t perfect. My activism ain’t perfect but it comes with joy and I hope with some grace. I want us to extend more of that grace to each other. More importantly, I want us to have better strategies. I want us to hold each other accountable. Some of y’all do that for me and I am thankful for you.
But if we can’t call each other out without massive trolling, what are we doing?
This won’t be the last time I say something people disagree with, and it surely ain’t the first time. My writing speaks for me and my life speaks for me. My job isn’t to make you always agree with me, nor does it mean I’m not your problematic fave. I’m still learning and growing, too. My goal is to speak my truth as I see it, even when it’s difficult to say and maybe to hear. And to say it, hopefully, with love. So yeah. Dassit. Take this as you will.
I’ma keep surrounding myself with Noir Pixie Dust. And like my girl, Kirsten West Savali likes to say: “Let’s get free.”
Update: Hey everybody,
I hear you. It’s been a shitty week for me that has weighed heavily on my spirit. After days of checking my ego and having people who love me tell me the truth, I have recalibrated. I am not uncheckable. This week taught me a lot, about this platform I have, my responsibility and the expectations that come with it. The higher expectations. You expect more of me, and I let you down.
So here’s the deal. I should not have broadly generalized a whole group of my people based on a few people. My mixed race comment offended a bunch of you, and even though you weren’t the target, you got swept up in it. I’m sorry for that. That took a long time for me to understand. I wasn’t trying to call Blackness into question based on amount of melanin. Your Blackness is not for me to judge (well, unless you’re Rachel Dolezal. I will not claim her). To my mixed race and light skinned folks, I’m sorry I made you feel like I was questioning your Blackness. Your #BLAXIT passport was never revoked or in jeopardy. I love us. I LOVE us.
I’ve learned that my words have more impact than they used to have (you’d think that would be a DUH) but like I said. Moving forward, I’ll be more cognizant of the impact of my words.
It’s been a shitstorm. Biggest one I’ve faced yet. But I’m listening and growing from it. Besides, I wrote a book called “I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual.” I can be challenged to do better myself.
I hope y’all stop coming for my edges now, in the name of Jamaican Black Castor Oil.