Actions speak louder than words, and inaction sometimes speaks even louder. And when white guys in particular blink and blankly stare throughout the blogosphere when shit like Halle and Nita go down, I say black women should immediately enforce a strict no-catering policy.
I have been called a nigger three times in my life. The first time was in elementary school; a blond boy with dirty clothes and flies perpetually circling his face spat the word at me while on a swing. Then it happened again in high school—some cowardly adolescent thought it was funny to yell out the slur while I was walking alone from school. The last time came just before my wedding.
Damn, Christelyn is fine.
I was walking alongside a coworker passing out notices to homeowners about freeway work to be done in Costa Mesa, California...We talked about our significant others. He knew my intended was white, and asked me about it.
“What’s it like?” he asked, innocently. “Do you ever worry about what people say?”
“Not at all,” I said, full of cosmopolitan bravado. “This is California, not Mississippi.
Almost immediately after, a white pickup blazed passed us, a little too close to the curb. A man hung his elbow out of the window. Then it had happened the third and final time.
“Nigger!” The cowards hit the gas and zoomed away.
My coworker, who was white, seemed incredulous, almost embarrassed, and a little scared. Then, unsure of what to do, he chuckled nervously, “You’re not offended by those jerks, are you?"
~ Christelyn Russell-Karazin, Beyond Black and White
Fuck the speculation part of Halle's sitch; I'm monitoring reactions at this point, and I'm not seeing much productive reaction from white guys. I didn't see much reaction during the Nita Hanson bullshit either. And when I see all this inaction, coupled with women of color rushing to the defense of BW/WM, my warning bells go off.
Before I start in on the white guys, however, I need to say a few words to my fellow black women: tone down the desperation. Having a man is not that important. Having a white man is even less important at this juncture. When a white guy is accused/proven guilty of being racially abusive to his black girlfriend/wife, that is not black women's cue to start shaking in their boots or throwing themselves on the sword in the defense of dating white men. Cut that shit out now.
I maintain the silence on these issues - from white guys - is deafening. It's like the white silence which came after Bethany-fucking-Storro's confession. Now, I can see where the gays are chatting. I see where the womenfolk are chatting. And I can only imagine the smug looks on black men when this type of shit goes down. But I'm not seeing where white male bloggers are going off in force.
And I can only imagine their reasons why.
"This doesn't really have anything to do with me. I'm not the guy who did this."
No, but it's still your job to denounce and discourage this type of behavior before anybody else can open their mouths and say anything. White America, for all its trash talk, insists upon sleeping and breeding with Black America. When a white man is outed for this type of abuse - which goes all the way back into the days of slavery - and white guys sit quiet, your silence condones this behavior.
"This is just that couple. It's not that big an issue."
Bullshit. This is that exact thinking which kills white credibility; this convenient inability (read: refusal) to see how and why the past affects the present, and how fucked-up situations like these are rooted in a viciously ugly past. Carmen Van Kerckhove writes:
As I wrote in a post last year, just because you sleep with/live with/marry/date someone of another race doesn’t make you automatically not racist. After all, slave masters had no problem maintaining their racist beliefs against blacks while raping their slaves and fathering mixed children with them. Neither did Strom Thurmond. And all you have to do is read Susan Crain Bakos’s article to see that sex doesn’t cancel out racism. If anything, sex and intimacy have always been intricately intertwined with oppression.So you're damn skippy this is a big friggin' issue.
"I don't understand what I'm supposed to do."
Funny...when a white woman accuses an imaginary black man of rape, white men know what to do. When Bethany-fucking-Storro accuses an imaginary black woman of throwing acid on her face, white men know what to do. But when a white man is outed for being racially abusive/negligent to his black wife, white men are suddenly at a loss. Mm-hm.
"Nita/Halle/women like these are just playing the race card."
Excuse me, but white people play the race card. By bringing up the color of POC's skin in unrelated situations - which white people love to do for some reason - they are playing the race card. In other words, if a white husband calls his black wife a nigger, he's playing the race card, not she.
Quick recap, children: if your skin color is what's holding you back and causing you problems in a society, playing it as a card is the stupidest thing you can do.
"I think this is a situation for our strong black women to assert themselves."
In other words, you don't want have to do any heavy lifting. You don't want to be bothered with the "race stuff." Why defend the honor of a black woman when you can sit back and watch her defend it her damn self? That's why you chose her instead of a white or Asian woman, right? Because she's supposed to be "stronger" than other women?
Because she doesn't cry and make you feel guilty about things, and doesn't have any pesky needs or wants to inconvenience you, right? Because she's independent and self-sufficient, so you can get all the sexual and emotional - and sometimes even financial - support you want without your having to do anything in return...right?
Black women, stop catering
Stop telling each other, "It's okay...it'll be different for you" - that's denial. That's what I call Black Cinderella Thinking: the idea that with this country's history and its current racial and political climate, there's still a pure-hearted white boy out there waiting for all the black women who want one, and he's not a racist, and he'll take every wretched aspect of your love life and make it better.
The truth is, you don't know how shit is going to go down until shit actually starts to go down. So just as you're not supposed to assume every white guy is racist, don't assume every white guy isn't either - wait and fucking see. Just because he's pursuing you, kissing you, and proudly parading you in front of all his friends doesn't mean he's not racist. I know it's a sickly, creepy, scary notion - a wolf in whiteface - but it's reality. Deal with it.
Black women, have each other's backs
Sorry, ladies, but this isn't a post-racial society and we are still on alert. Remain skeptically vigilant at all goddamn times. I'm not saying presume specific things about people, or be a hostile bitch, or be paranoid - I'm saying do as we've always done and be motherfucking alert. Which means don't pet each others' heads and try to soothe each others' feelings when shit like this goes down. This is not a drill. Band together and have each others' backs because very few others will.
Black women, we deserve better
So tone the desperation down. Hold your head up and always remember that a man desiring you and bending over backwards to please you is the natural goddamn order of things. Stop being so "grateful" for compliments from men - any men. Stop putting up with shit from the men you're already with, and replace them with better models if having a man is what you really want.
You can have better. You do deserve better. Don't just say it and think it; act it. Exude it. Be it.