Pssst! My little town has a weekend-long, town-wide garage sale every September. Last spring, a friend who teaches second grade in the city about 200 yards across a mossy river, asked folks to clean out their shelves for extra kids’ books. Yesterday, I collected the books on my street; I wish I could have gone a few blocks in any direction, but my creaky back lodged a formal complaint. Anyhoo, books for the kids. Shhhhhh! It’s a secret!
My neighbor put up her friend’s article on Facebook.
DEAR WHITE FEMINISTS, YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO IGNORE WOMEN OF COLOR ANY LONGER
Reckonings of all sorts are coming. It has been a good time to listen and learn. What are we talking about here?
Okay, mainstream feminist community, it’s time that you and I had a little talk.
You’ve not only screwed up. You’ve screwed up badly. And it’s usually after you’ve been given chance after chance after chance to get your act together.
That’s why I have a proposition for you. It’s time for a Come To Jesus meeting. Hear me out.
Jesus and I meet for cocktails all the time, which may be why I screw up all the time. Even though I know the author is not speaking to me, what have I done?
The celebrity nude photo hacking scandal is just the latest way in which mainstream feminism has screwed up with women of color.
Let me stop right there and stipulate a few things.
1. I have no time for celebrity gossip because my own shallowness is very high maintenance.
2. I am not making fun of the author or light of her points; au contraire, it is I that are small and covered with fur.
3. Being a celebrity means that pictures of your flesh are worth money, especially to creeps. If you take nude pictures for your own fun, some jackhole will steal them because they are worth money, especially to creeps. This is part of the Being A Celebrity package. Everyone, I hope, understands this sordid crap, so I’m not sure where we’re going.
We’re getting more than a little tired of having us and our issues ignored unless they happen to dovetail with what you find important. We’re tired of having to fight for ourselves with no help or support from you. And we’re especially tired of being expected to champion your issues without question.
Yep. Straight up: that happens. If you pay attention, you can see that everywhere.
When a hacker dug up nude photos of luminaries including Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence, supermodel Kate Upton and Olympian McKayla Maroney (whose inclusion brought the whole “kiddie porn” aspect to the discussion) it led to a lot of columnists and feminists to do a lot of writing. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the emphasis wasn’t deserved, because it was.
But, my mainstream feminist sisters, you all missed some folks when talking about your outrage.
Were it not for the folks at Essence Magazine, and believe it or not, the Washington Post, we never would have known that among those who had their privacy violated in this most heinous of ways was singer (and fellow Philadelphian) Jill Scott.
My shallowness is starting to peel.
How a multi-Grammy-Award-winning artist and actress escaped your notice has me a bit confused. That the nasty comments her photos garnered on Twitter got past you also makes me scratch my head a little since any time someone says something sexist to a woman on social media, mainstream feminism swarms like angry bees.
But since it’s not the first time that a woman of color has stood alone and without a mainstream feminist champion, I’m also not surprised.
I read Twitter for fun, only a day or two a week because I am ancient and have to double-bolt the front door to keep Death out on the porch, so I would not have noticed bees. Even so, it has not escaped my notice that any news story containing an African-American man or woman is followed by a radioactive comments section. The language of news stories is often biased and troubling. The obviously white commenters are often oblivious or rabid. This shit can really make you scratch your head for the future of humanity. I wade in, punch my way out, for all the difference it makes to the subjects of these stories. Also: I would not claim to be a mainstream anything; the author is not talking to me. Anyhoo:
In fact, Scott joins a pretty illustrious group that includes Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (one of the first women to run for president, although you never hear about it), First Lady Michelle Obama (the whole Fox News “baby mama” thing being my personal favorite), and a variety of other women of color.
She joins a group that includes women like Maria Fernandes, who died while taking a nap in her car between her four part-time jobs and Debra Harrell who is looking at 10 years in jail for felony child neglect for leaving her child in a park while she worked because she had no other child care option.
Every last one of us would be better off if we could get Fox News out of the hen house. Shirley Chisholm is one of the giants of modern American history. Michelle Obama is brilliant, accomplished, in enviable shape and seems like a genuinely kind person. This made me curious: what feminists does author Denise Clay read? What am I not reading? Let’s come back to this.
Scott joins the thousands of Black and Latina women who are currently missing and that get no face time with Nancy Grace. Now as I wrote that previous sentence, I realized that someone is going to say, “How can you say that we totally ignore the issues of women of color?! We spoke out for Janay Rice…”
That’s a no-brainer. Mainstream feminism couldn’t afford to ignore Janay Rice. Ignoring the video of a woman getting knocked completely out by her football player husband would have made you all look as hypocritical as Newt Gingrich leading a marriage encounter group.
And my recommendation for “Come to Jesus” would have quickly become simply “Cuss You The Hell Out.”
Nancy Grace scares me, but I absolutely see the point. Somewhere, I read that when Laci Peterson went missing, 19,000 other people were missing from California alone. I’m kind of obsessed with missing persons, so I am aware that when a person of color goes missing, the odds of a family getting help from the police and finding the person alive are truly miserable. The media’s fixation on missing blonde girls seems like a sickness when so many other people need help.
I keep watching Janay Rice’s face for hopeful signs, but worry about something in her eyes. I am afraid for her. A lot of people are talking and writing and talking some more, but I have said and written nothing because I am thinking about her family and that worries me, too. A woman can’t attain a certain age without encountering abusers and survivors and people who did not survive. I am well aware that I cannot save her and hoping she reaches out to the right people is both too much and not enough.
The stakes are a little too high for that with the 2016 Presidential Primaries coming around the corner.
I don’t believe Hillary Clinton even a little bit when she says she doesn’t know if she’s running for president yet. When she finally decided to make a statement about the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri, that was your cue. Or it should have been. Granted, she was late, and her lateness tells me that her “Kitchen Cabinet” has everything but Dishes Of Color in it, but she said something.
Everyone knows that when Clinton puts her “running for president pantsuits” on in 2016, you’re going to want women of color to be down with the cause. Some of you are still mad that we didn’t fall in line in 2008 and put your girl in the White House.
If you want us to help you make feminist history, women of color want something in return. We want our issues addressed. We want our contributions valued.
Yeah…about Hillary Clinton: I don’t know. She’s tough, she’s smart, but her politics are about 5.5 miles to the right of mine. She makes compromises that make me cringe, though every so often, she really comes through. She’s a politician who consistently surrounds herself with terrible, craven advisors. There’s a lot to worry about here, but even more worrisome is any Republican at all in the White House. Congress is fully fucked, the Supreme Court is churning out corrosive decisions on economics and money in politics and the last thing we need is a Republican President cutting the brake lines to speed our slide into serfdom. I’m not wild about the corporate Democrats, but a Republican President appointing a Supreme Court justice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg scares me. It’s not a great reason to keep turning up at the polls every four years, but it’ll do.
Hillary-based equivocation aside, hearing and addressing the issues of women of color is in everyone’s best interest. People who believe that for one group to prosper, another must suffer are simply wrong. The public discourse is full of this easily detectable crap: we don’t have any money, we can’t do such and such, who’s going to pay for it? As a society, we have all the resources we need. For our purposes, though, they’re in the wrong places and in the hands of people intent on keeping us desperate and separate.
Speaking for myself, I have been watching Ferguson with horror. If the situation weren’t deadly serious, it would be laughable that the police department should behave monstrously and think it wouldn’t be seen by the entire world for the monster it is. Speaking for myself, I felt like I was watching a dying creature in a vain struggle to survive a mortal injury because – in my opinion – the balance of power has already shifted. The thing does not yet know it’s dead. Two nights ago, the Ferguson City Council meeting on Twitter cemented my belief that in one election or perhaps two, Ferguson could be a much different place, depending on the determination of the people. It won’t be easy, but I think they can do it. Register everyone to vote, vote those paper-shuffling fuckers out, dismantle the system that ties up the African-American population in the court system. Then they have to be careful, because the system will try to rebuild itself.
Speaking for myself, I’m not sure how I can contribute other than listening when other people speak and trying not to be a jerk, especially to people who meet jerks aplenty in daily life. On this here bloggy, I’m more or less talking to myself in a Dear Diary way, with a vegetable garden and sidewalk cracks, but this situation and Clay’s exhortation are not about me. It’s true that I used to write about the many, many Maria Fernandeses and Debra Harrells of this world and haven’t recently, but I am not writing much about anything recently. Still: it’s not about me. I don’t have to be afraid or defensive. It’s okay to learn.
This billboard is in Topeka, Kansas and I couldn’t be happier.
Per Bob: Gazanias (Gazania rigens) are very drought tolerant flowers from Southern Africa. They have bright blossoms flowers and are half-hardy perennials. Photographed at the Rutgers Snyder Research Farm in central New Jersey.