My Top Five Most Racist Experiences of 2017
Note: These are the most poignant racist moments I experienced in 2017. There were many more, they just seem pale in parallel to the experiences listed below.
5. Last February a white woman told me to f*ck off and “be somebody else’s Black friend.”
The woman claimed she wanted to help spread the word about my women’s empowerment group, Sisters with Aspirations. In reality, she was planning to use my existence to solve the diversity ‘issue’ her local political group struggled with. When I became aware of her true intentions, I bluntly — yet respectfully, gave her a hard no and wished her well in her future endeavors. The following day she sent me a text message telling me to go f*ck myself and “be somebody else’s Black friend.”
4. A white woman told me that, in her ‘experience’, all Black women do is bad mouth each other.
She asked me why I had so much faith in women. I told her my statistically-backed theory.
The strength and responsibility placed on Black women doesn’t give us a choice but to look out for each other. We are born and raised with an ‘us’ mentality. It wasn’t ‘just’ Erica Garner who died on the eve of the new year. It was one of us. It doesn’t matter if we’re defending the sister at our dinner table, or Sandra Bland, we will defend and support each other in an us fashion that allows us to… I don’t know, VOTE 98% FOR DOUG JONES!
Her response to my theory was to tell me that she worked with many Black women who smiled in each other’s faces and talked behind each other’s backs. I told her I had been exposed to enough of her biased, incorrect statistics and bigotry and quickly blocked her. Since then, she has left an awful review in the comment section of any written material published with my name on it. Her favorite line is, — in all caps (which I detest), “You aren’t a woman, you aren’t a feminist, and you aren’t a good person.”
3. I created a cyber riot after telling an online feminist group they needed to make their online space a safe, intersectional environment for all feminists.
After four days of intense emotional labor, racial-slurs, gaslighting, and race-baiting, an unwavering resistance to the oppression white feminists, and additional moderators added to their roster, all admins and moderators dedicated themselves to creating a diverse, inclusive, safe environment for all women. Sometimes, it works out.
2. A white woman tried to convince me that it was ‘totally cool’ for her to use the n-word.
I. Was. Not. Having. It. I told her to stop using the word and provided her with literature that would help alleviate the stupidity that was at the root of her terminal racism. Her response was a lengthy private message, explaining how ‘totally acceptable’ it is for anyone to use that word since, ‘your community throws it around’. Her response was filled with Snapple-cap quality intellect. At one point she referred to the civil rights era as the ‘segregation movement’. Bless her infected heart.
1. I started an online intersectional book club which was ambushed by racists and full-blown bigots.
After more than three hundred women from all over the country had joined and another two hundred more were waiting on the approval list within a 72 hour period, a throng of racists organized an infiltration, bombing several threads with xenophobic slurs, name calling, and race baiting, all at once. I knew it was bad when a white sister asked me, “What are you going to do to make sure white feminists know they’re not supposed to be the loudest women in the room?”
It took many tears, a box of merlot, and a powerful pep talk from my Facebook friend and mentor-in-my head, Sandy, to brush myself off. That was my worst experience with racism in 2017.
To be clear, this isn’t a “White people are so bad!” piece, and it’s definitely not a “Feel bad for me because of white supremacy,” piece either. This is a, “Watch what the fuck I’m not going to let happen in 2018,” piece.
Tamela J. Gordon is a writer, intersectional feminist, and creator of the women’s empowerment group, Sisters with Aspiration, as well as SWA’s Intersectional Book Club. For booking information, contact Tamela at email@example.com