The hostility just came out of nowhere.
I was scrolling along my Facebook news feed when I came across an eye-catching photo. A beautiful and stylish Black woman is sitting with her gaze away from the camera. She holds a cardboard sign with rough writing that reads “Date who you want, but STFU about Black women”.
This image, of course, isn’t so much about interracial dating as it is about interracial dating without feeling the need to blatantly bad-mouth and disrespect Black women. For example, there is a difference between “I date [insert race] women” and “I date [insert race] women because Black women are this, that, and the other thing”.
I can get behind this sentiment, I think to myself. Without thinking much about it, I shared the image to my own news feed and kept scrolling.
Hours later, I receive a notification that someone with whom I went to high school commented on the post. It read:
Goes for black women too.
I was taken aback. I took another look at that image. Though it is implied, there wasn’t an explicit call out to Black men in the image. In fact, there wasn’t a specific call-out to men in general. I respond:
“Not what the post is about but k.”
“about dating who you want? It speaks for itself. But I hear more trash talk coming from black women than men.”
Here is one thing about me. I’m all good for a healthy and intelligent discussion about social issues. What I’m not here for, however, is a debate about “who has it worse”. I wasn’t trying to waste the energy, especially from someone who I don’t even speak to on a regular basis. Outside of social media reactions or shares, we hadn’t spoken to each other in years. So I simply responded:
It’s a slow day. I’m working on another project when I get a notification; someone has responded to one of my stories. This particular story is one I’m especially attached to, as it pertains to the livelihood of Black women as it centers around a news story that gathered very little media attention.
Khalil Wheeler-Weaver and the Absence of Sympathy for Black Women
Wheeler-Weaver highlights a bigger issue when it comes to the livelihood of Black women
However, as I opened the notification and read the response, I was met with this:
This was actually a rhetorical device. He knew female victims would get sympathy. It is much easier to ask for help, empathy and sympathy as a woman than as a man. It is much easier to be a victim as a woman.
African-American women in the U.S. as a demographic are doing so much better than African-American men. They get to claim dual victim status, being both black and female. It is hugely beneficial. The language of victimhood can basically explain a black woman’s whole life.
Of course that isn’t going to ever be comfortable or stable, since it is a community completely dependent on outside help. But as compared to their contemporary males, black females get the vast bulk of social justice.
I sit back in my seat, baffled. Yes, he was loud and wrong about some things but also..what did any of this stuff have to do with the fact that a man killed three Black women, attempted murder of a fourth, and not a soul was talking about it? It’s as if he ignored the entire passage, the entire rhetoric of Black Lives Matter, and jumped straight to it being a debate about who has it harder. And how apparently “victimhood can explain a whole Black woman’s life”? I didn’t really care much about his differing opinion, so much as to why he was commenting something so intensely irrelevant?
Also, did this person just hit me with a convoluted “All Lives Matter”?
The Oppression Olympics
When it comes to that last comment, I can’t say for sure who it is from. Mainly because this is a person who has no profile picture and according to their bio the only reason they have an account is to “review the biased, liberal bubble that continually eliminates opposing points of view”. So I guess that’s scholarly talk for “I want to troll and argue”.
However, these two instances aren’t the only times I’ve faced this problem. I find that any time I speak out on the injustices towards Black women, there’s always at least one person who has to bring in a group of people that I clearly was not talking to. For me, it kind of goes up there with the concept of “not all [insert group]”!
In another piece, in which I call out the global false “love” for Black women, I came across a comment that went off topic. To be brief, the woman basically turned it into a “yes, ALL women have it hard”. It’s as if to say that, because I did not include the phrase ‘all women’ in the title, that I was somehow disregarding the struggles of all women and putting Black women on a pedestal.
Where is it written that just because I take time to talk about a problem that is important to my people mean that I am disregarding everyone else’s problems?
It’s Not Always About You
I believe the worst thing you can do to someone who is voicing their stress, worry, etc. about something that they’re going through is try to turn the subject back around to yourself. In some ways, people do this to show points of commonality. However, in most cases I have seen, it does nothing to help the other person and simply just detracts from the point.
Even though this sounds like common knowledge, I find that it is not so common. I can’t seem to ever talk about a topic that impacts me as a Black woman without someone descending from the sky to let me know that “That’s not just a Black girl problem! I’ve gone through the same thing!” Another person also descends to say “Yeah! And don’t you know we’re actually the ones who have it worse than you?!”
Believing that a person honing in on a problem specific to their race, gender, or sex is done to be “divisive” just comes off dismissive and self-centered. Someone like this is not listening to understand, they are listening to orchestrate a response.
It’s a Societal Issue, Don’t Take it Personally
The thing about people who are quick to jump in and say “No, that’s happened to me too!” or “I have it way worse as a [insert race, gender, or sexuality]”, is that they are taking their individual experiences and making it fact.
In other words, when women talk about toxic masculinity and its consequences it should be a given they are not referring to “all men”.
When Black people voice their frustration with instances of police brutality and crooked cops, it should be a given they are not referring to “all cops”.
In addition, when people discuss colorism and the privilege that light-skinned/fair-skinned people have over their darker peers, it’s not to ignite a war on light-skinned people. Nor is discussing the problems of white privilege, white supremacy, or systems built for the benefit of the white man considered “attacking White people”.
In case you didn’t realize, these comments are being spoken to whom they are applicable. If you don’t fall into those categories, congratulations, you’re a decent human being probably. But understand that the reason people discuss these topics is because they are a wide-spread enough problem to cause concern and stress in our everyday life. Not all men are feeding into toxic masculinity and rape culture, but enough of them are. Not all White people view themselves as superior and to People of Color but enough do. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a step back and asking yourself: Why did this person say what they just said?
What Exactly are We Winning Here?
Sometimes I hear people go on saying “our group has it harder because of xyz” and I just want to genuinely ask them: for what are you trying to incite this debate? Seriously, what is the prize for being the most oppressed and marginalized group on Earth? Do we get a trophy? A cash reward? What is it about me talking about a problem that doesn’t include you that makes you believe that there is a competition to be won?
People will always have opposing views from each other. I’m not looking for everyone to agree with me on hard topics all the time. My problem isn’t that these people disagreed with me, it’s that they failed to stick to the actual topic. If a post specifically calls out a group of people in a title (i.e. Black women), shouldn’t it be common sense that the topic is going to revolve around that subject matter? Excluding topics of the oppression and problems of Black men doesn’t mean that I’m saying their problems don’t exist. All it means is that I stayed on topic.
Everybody on this Earth has their own set of problems. My discussion of one group’s problems does not negate another group’s problems. My problems as a heterosexual Black American woman are surely going to look completely different from the problems of a homosexual White man. And we can insert one race for another, one gender for another, etc. it all comes to the same conclusion: We all have certain attributes that can negatively effect our livelihoods; for some it will be to a severe extent, for others to a lesser extent.
Acknowledging my struggle does not mean I am disregarding yours. Seek to understand before you seek to respond.
These days, I don’t have the time or energy to explain to people why their response is irrelevant from the topic. Those comments go unacknowledged. Why? Because I’m sitting out on the Oppression Olympics. Y’all have fun though.