13 February 2010

Hurt to My Heart

I actually had a great day today. I got up early, went out to Half Moon Bay for Mavericks and generally enjoyed myself in that typical California way.

I'm prefacing this post with that because I don't want anyone to think this place is a repository for my ill thoughts. I did not intend on ending up in this place when I started out (or thought I'd ended) this day. But as usual, I got home and I got to reading and I ended up here because guess what: this world is fucked up. And it's about 10 times more fucked up for a Black woman.

I'm sure by now most people have heard about the inane comments and John Mayer gave to Playboy this week. I'll save you the read. It a big serving of misogyny with a healthy dose of racism and just smidgen of homophobia. For someone who brags about having a "nigger pass" he might not want to walk into any hip hop clubs anytime soon. But Mayer's douchebaggery aside, reading about him took me to two articles and both of them made my heart hurt for the genuine discussion about the bullshit that women of color but in particular Black women have to endure just to be considered human and not some collection of misguided stereotypes.

The first one takes Gloria Steinhem's "If Men Could Mensturate?" and turns it on it head with "What if Black Women Were White Women?" It's a simple essay which just gives examples of how Black femininity would be valued and treated as something to be protected but it's simplicity drives home a harsh point. I as a Black woman am not valued as a feminine being. I am not worthy of being protected. And most of all, my blackness just reinforces the fact that I can only be seen as beautiful ... "for a Black girl".

The second, Black Women Need Not Apply, (which can also be read in conjunction with this
article) discusses how stark issues of racism become when placed in the dating world. In some ways, it's the last bastion of openly accepted racism. But once again, it's the Black women who come out on the bottom. Just the way the men describe the prospect of dating a Black woman is nauseating.

On being with a Black woman:

But I honestly just wouldn’t feel safe.

You may be the sweetest girl in the world, but unless your entire family and your family friends are nice people, I don’t think I would be happy.

This just reinforces everything I ever felt going to a mostly white boarding school and university. I could be friends with a white guy or maybe even hook up with one but take me home, feel safe enough to actually date me? Guess not.

I think that's why recently I've found these "will I ever get married?" tropes in romantic comedies and television shows so funny because in light of recent statistics and these reactions in society why should I be worried about getting married when I should be concerned about being seen as a woman?

And what I particularly love about the second article is that it forces white women to understand that it doesn't matter if you aren't the ideal beauty standard. At least you're in race. So often, the response is "But I'm fat so I understand" or "What about Halle Berry? She's Black and every man wants her!" but when an international music star says
"My dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I’ve got a Benetton heart and a fuckin’ David Duke cock."
and we don't stop to examine the fact that it's about more than fitting into a size 0 dress and getting some hair extensions, that's a problem.

All I can say is: my heart is hurt because if this is what I'm contending with, I don't know where to begin.


hughman said...

thanks for making me think about things and as a(nother) minority i can relate to much of what you said about questioning your standing in "society". are those pictures meant to represent extremes? erykah badu has a different look of course but i never considered her looking any more (or less) black. is she seen that way? i'm sincerely curious as to what you think, not trying to be snarky. and for the record (and though i'm a gay man), i find both women beautiful but i personally think badu trumps berry every time.

shananigans said...

The Halle Berry pic was kind of just an example of what's considered "acceptable" Black beauty while the Badu pic I found interesting cause (of course) I think she looks gorgeous but she has the kinky hair and the jewels make her look like she's wearing shackles.

hughman said...

in your honor, i've been listening to erykah's new album all week. i would have anyway but i think of you while i do now.