Hi, Hey there, White ladies. We need to talk.
No, like we REALLY need to talk, and I know that in this climate it is generally a poor choice to have a white lady only meeting and publish it on the internet. But, I think this is the one time it is okay. Because what we need to talk about is whiteness. What we need to talk about is what it means to be a white lady, and how much like my friends who raise boys sometimes whisper in their ears “you will not grow up to be trash men” I sometimes look in the news and at my daughters and saw “we are not that kind of white person.” Because right now, too many of you are.
I need you to know, before we start talking about this specific problem that it is not a one off, you know? This not like everything is totally hunky dory except this one tiny thing and if we correct it then we can and dance in the sun like we are all in that classic coke commercial where everyone is skinny and beautiful and happy. I know that us white ladies really like to pretend that is what is happening. It is not.
Do you know how irritating it is to be told by men how safe we are when they don’t even know to ask someone to watch their drink, or to pretend they are talking on the phone, or turn their keys into wolverine claws when they are walking alone in the dark? Like come ON man you couldn’t make it a week! Do you know how annoying it is when you are explaining to someone the dumb stuff that a man asked you about why it takes so long to get ready in the morning, the same man who commented you on your “natural look” when it took thirty minutes for your to wing your eyeliner correctly. Like…..how do you even respond to a person who thinks winged eyes are natural?
Sigh. I feel like because we now all the dumb stuff men say to us, we should be sensitive to the fact that perhaps we don’t know everything about being a black woman, and that there are perhaps some experiences we do not, and should not have access to. There is a reason I love girls night, and I love my husband but he is not invited because it is girls night. It is not for him. Just like when you walk in the room it changes the dynamic between your kids. I do not care how much you and they want to be there, it is just different. Y’all no matter how down, or woke, or whatever you want to call it you THINK you are, if you are white, your presence changes the dynamic of a primarily black space. It just does.
And this is why we need to talk about #youoksis and how it isn’t ours to use. #Youoksis is brilliant, a social media campaign designed to not only talk about street harassment, but also give people the tool of centering the person who is being harassed. And the SIS that part is important and it is on purpose. Very often when street harassment is being portrayed in the media white women are the victims even though black women are even MORE likely to be hollered at inappropriately (Pro tip: you cannot holler at a woman you do not know appropriately.) with a three word hashtag Feminista Jones was able to center black women, tell us how to fix the problem, and also totally benefit ALL women who would like to just walk to their car in peace. It is genius, and it is by a black woman and centers black women, and all of that is on purpose. We benefit from it, but it isn’t designed for us. In fact #youoksis was designed in response to the fact that very often black women are ignored when discussing street harassment.
So imagine my horror when I came upon this #youoksis concert put on by, featuring, and I believe benefitting white women. Like COME ON! The hashtag has sis in it! White women do not call each other that! How could you not pick up on that. Well, they COULD Abby, maybe they do, you don’t know. I know that if they do, they need to stop.
Look, you know how your best friend can call you bitch, or a dear friend can refer to you as girl, but your husband or your male boss cannot? Yeah. That is the same dynamic happening here. There are black women in my life who love me like a sister. I care for them as I do my sisters. I do not call them sis. Because I am not allowed to and it sounds stupid coming out of my mouth anyway! I do not even call my own biological raised in the same house group text each other five hundred times a day sisters sis. We do not use that word. It is not ours to use. We were GRACIOUSLY included in #youoksis and we were being helped by it, but then we did the thing we do and we took it and made it ours.
And please PLEASE do not tell me that it is okay because some person of color handed you a “black card” that is not real and you do not get one. You just don’t. You want to know why? Because we aren’t black and we inevitably prove it. Like the one and only time I was awarded a black card only to look at the offerers shirt signaling he was a proud member of a black fraternity…and squealed in delight because I thought the shirt was signaling his affiliation with Hufflepuff, a Harry Potter house. Oh the caucasity.
#YouOKSis is by black women for black women and a freaking concert where only white women are represented is the whole reason so many black women don’t trust us. We need to do better, because we do know better, even when we pretend we don’t.
I thoroughly enjoyed this. I have a very close black friend who graciously points out how I can be incredibly dumb-white-girl sometimes. WITH me trying NOT to be, I still am that. You may think we know better, that’s very kind of you, but I think we’re kind of lazy and forget, or choose not to put the effort into filtering our choices through intersectionality.