Why ‘Get Out’ Reignites My ‘Single White Female' Syndrome
For Better or Worse
No, this is not going to be a fuck you piece about how White women get to have all the fun while Black women are regulated to the glory of ancestral baggage and the spotlight that strenuously evades.
Actually, I lied — it might resemble something along those lines, but it’s purely from a testimonial standpoint.
But, not in a careless way that lines up all the beaten down stereotypes for the purpose of a bitch fest. This is my testimony — exhausted from the effects of a blast that echoed through the theater and managed to drown out the delirious babies that were screaming for freedom in the darkness of a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Get Out — the official movie of 2017 has been picked apart so radically that the bear bones still contain enough juice for an extended feast. Yes, it’s creepy and emphatically heightened in its delivery. Yes, Black people feel validated and even loved when they watch an offering that doesn’t sugarcoat the depth of their existence.
No, White people won’t get it because they are White and though there is nothing wrong with their genetic makeup — the world is not enough to contain how much they are celebrated for being — White.
I remember the first time I saw the 90’s classic — Single White Female. I was young and impressionable and surrounded by single White females who were kind of obsessed with me.
I don’t say this lightly and this is not a fabricated admission.
When I was ready to pursue my college degree, my Nigerian-born parents decided that an all-girls two-year college in an all White town was the way to go for their Nigerian-American daughter. They had also gone to University in the States and I was born, while my mother was finishing up her studies.
It was the seventies. Africans in America seemed to incite some level of interference with the status quo. White Americans spent a chunk of their time convincing the ambitious from the Diaspora that they were the elite of Black people. This was based on the treacherous narrative that if you could risk it all to come to a foreign land and actually succeed in garnering an education and a decent job against all odds — then obviously you are just as good as any White fellow who is impressed by the pronunciation of your “beautiful name.”
My parents’ friends liked our names. How different! How reassuring that you are not a common “Black American” with a name that does little to swell any interest, investment or camaraderie.
I ended up at Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri because it was understood that my journey as an America citizen needed to be pampered by an all White environment. My parents tasked me with the responsibility of selecting a White roommate after I was accepted — as if that would have been an challenge!
My short stint in the town of my nightmares was gratifyingly short.
The moment I arrived — I was surrounded by a bevy of onlookers who were fascinated by my British-Nigerian accent, thin template and modest disposition. They couldn’t wait to take me out for a night on the town. They referred to my appearance almost every time we interacted. They made me feel like a Beauty Queen on the loose. It was as if the myth they had pledged to had combusted the moment they set eyes on me.
There was nothing about me that deviated from the norm but somehow — I was this extra-terrestrial who gave their bigoted beliefs the foundation needed to strong arm the next generation.
A thin, attractive, well-spoken Black girl from Africa had to be handled with care and it was imperative to let her know her value in the eyes of those who aren’t used to such things.
I refuse to tout myself as a beauty back then but I wasn’t too shabby and the senior who was in charge of activities and recreation — chose me as one of the girls who would travel to the nearest naval base for a function that required the litter of girls that guys want to dance with.
All the attention was interesting but my schoolwork suffered because the staff was all White and clearly not equipped to handle circumstances that challenge their low tolerance.
So, I was left to mostly fail while my White friends flourished — and after two semesters — I was out.
I ended up at the University of Missouri-Kansas City where the reception was almost the same except for the fact that I was able to juggle options that reassured my growing awareness.
My best friend at UMKC was White. We lived at a house near campus with a White guy who was racist. His frustration with me stemmed from the fact that when he would ask me why Black people tend to be so fucking loud and obnoxious — I couldn’t come up with a reply that refuted his claims.
I was so lost and confused back then and it annoyed the Black friends I had and stimulated the White friends who weren’t really friends.
My college buddy ended up choosing a darker path, but we kept in touch despite her plight. I finally decided to let go last year when her infectious insanity threatened my ability to stay on course.
I told myself through the guilt of release that White women are just crazy bitches.
I don’t quite accept that, but this mental rant was built over time.
The obsession from college days that clogged my view — due to the “you’re too dope to be an ordinary Black girl” sucker punch, the White girl who I roomed with in Astoria, NY who hated my guts and threw me out because I was able to chow down whatever I wanted — whenever — without gaining an ounce of weight. The job at JMcLaughlin — an Upper East Side nest of goodies that employed the White Girls who smile in your face and then digest platters at Atlantic Grill — while they try not to choke on the reality of their sensational performance and astute adherence to protocol.
Get Out was gritty in the way that reinstated the Single White Female Syndrome that plagued me for most of my young adult life.
In present day times — I don’t have any White female friends at all.
No crowds tampering with my personal space — or the googly-eyed audience— resistant to the forces that I hoped would keep them at bay. I forgive myself for falling for the luster of having the center of the universe abide by the blink of my eyes — and the wonder of how I could represent something that seemed so fundamentally incoherent.
The Rose character in the film — with her wide-open charm laced with putrid privilege was by far the most frightening aspect of Get Out. The way she stood up to the police officer like a fretful royal hit in me in the chest — as I remembered Sandra Bland and how she was deemed with malice for daring to stand up for her rights.
Rose’s parents and their neighborhood posse reminded me of my parents and their misplaced allegiance to those who dared to impress upon them the damaging rhetoric that still causes blood to stain the streets — as Black children look up at the sky and grip their final moments with calm fury.
Rose is the character that makes it hard for me to have White women as close confidantes.
They say all the right things at the right time but pick the wrong time to be White. They march for equality and justice only when the cameras are active and the cops are drunk with the assignment of making sure that there will be zero casualties. They are White women who ignore the Black women who died for the sake of being women with the voice and altitude that White women claim with pride and shamelessness.
As the credits rolled, I sat with fear as I realized that Single White Females were applauding what I just encountered. I hated that I had spent all that time being White. I needed to be a Black Female and GET THE HELL OUT.
And that’s exactly what I did.