Response to Comment

This post is in response to a comment left on my post “Walking away from the black community” one of the first posts I ever wrote. My response was too long to post in a comment so Here it is.

beautifulmindtss.wordpress.com  writes:

Where to begin… I think that your way at looking at the issues of the Black community miss a very complex picture. The reason why Black people cannot come together and solve our problems is because we are so divided. It’s man against woman, young against old, light skin against dark skin… the list goes on and on and on. In other words, the Willie Lynch letter, whether it’s real or not, is very true.
There’s nothing wrong with having your perspective driven by the fact that you are Black and a woman. It becomes a problem when you intentionally want to seperate to help a suposed greater good that really isn’t even good. The Black heros of our past, MLK, MX, Angela Davis, Huey, Garvey, Tubman, Soujourner, they did not fight for Black men. They fought for Black people. It’s true that the concept of fighting for Black people was histroically without full recognition of Black women’s particular issues, which is why many of our leaders fought also for the status of Black women. The fact is, Black women cannot be totally emanicipated without Black men, just as Black men cannot be totally emacipated without Black women. We are inner-connected. Brothers and sisters. When Jim Crow ended we were all benefited. When segregated schools ended we all benefited. When we get ourselves out of the economic slump we are in we will all benefit. And truth be told, Black women recieve the upperhand in school admissions and in the work force. Black men are far more incarerated as well. Yet when they are emanciapted from those issues we will benefit. And when issues that are particulaly devastating to Black women, HIV AIDS, misogomy by our brothers, when these issues come to an end Black men will benefit from that as well.
The divide and conqur method has always been used to keep us down, whether in slavery, colonialism, or political oppression. The more we waste time promoting division instead of unity, the longer things won’t change. Let’s educate Black men on the struggles of being a Black woman, rather than allienating ourselves.

My response:

Hi,

Thanks for commenting. I enjoyed reading your response even though it was exactly what I expected. For starters you seem to have an over simplified idea of why I said “separate.”  What I mean by separate isn’t excommunicate yourself from black men. WhatI mean by separate is “stop wasting your time trying to defend a group of people who 1. Have more privilege than you and 2. Who use that privilege against you.

Second If you want to know more on why I said that please read these posts below that I have written. ( read from top to bottom because the first one explains everything and the last ones go in depth)

https://notyourgirlfriday.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/black-women-strategically-neutral-and-my-new-blog/

https://notyourgirlfriday.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/the-conundrum-of-black-feminism-explained-further/

https://notyourgirlfriday.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/the-birth-of-the-black-feminist-paradox/

https://notyourgirlfriday.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/fools-idiots-morons-and-those-who-are-too-stupid-to-live-please-read-this-post/

https://notyourgirlfriday.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/girls-chris-rock-and-the-sweet-sweet-unnoticed-irony/

Now, let’s get into what you said.

The reason why Black people cannot come together and solve our problems is because we are so divided. It’s man against woman, young against old, light skin against dark skin… the list goes on and on and on. In other words, the Willie Lynch letter, whether it’s real or not, is very true.
There’s nothing wrong with having your perspective driven by the fact that you are Black and a woman.

This is true in some way. I suppose the reason why black women can’t come together IS Because it’s  man against woman.. light skin against dark skin…

But let’s consider for a moment why It’s this way. For starters, You seem to be under the impression that black men ARENT privileged.  And I’ve got to call you on that.  Black men are VERY privileged ( in relation to black women)  because they are men. YES, in the grand scheme of the United States black men have less relative power than white men.  (Just as I’ve explained in the links I’ve provided that white women have privilege because they are white) But they are privileged none the less.  Second of all, you are under the impression that these black men in the black community are going to WILLINGLY give up their privilege to come together as a whole.  I don’t know if you read the links I gave you above but I’ll explain why that can’t happen.

For starters in our racist patriarchal society (in the US I don’t know about other countries and won’t speak for them)  the only way to get a step ahead Is  to have racial privilege ( ie be white or close to it) or to have gender privilege( ie be a man)  Which  means that white men have won the genetic lottery and black women have collectively lost. We are neither white nor a man.  On the other hand, there are two groups who have partially one the genetic lottery, and those are black men and white women. If you read the link I’m providing below the author ( a black woman ) explains intersectionality. And the “but for”idea.   Basically she explains (like I’m trying to explain) how black men are only not on top because of (“but for”)  their race and white women are only not equal to white men because of their gender.

http://www-polisci.tamu.edu/upload_images/4/Crenshaw-Demarginalizing.pdf (page 65 )

But that’s not the biggest problem.  The problem is when it is time to create laws and pass out help to people, it is developed Top Down. That is, it is created to help people who already have race or gender privilege.   Meaning that when civil rights laws are created they are laws that help black men and when feminist laws are created they are created from the white standpoint.

But what happens if you are a black woman? Well If you read the pdf  (and I hope you do)  this actually works AGAINST black women.  She cites a case in which black women wanted to sue for gender discrimination and couldn’t because the company did in fact have women working at the site. But they were white! And they couldn’t sue for racial discrimination because there were in fact black people there ( But of course they were MEN) Where did that leave black women? Well these women’s cases were dismissed because they weren’t able to prove it.   Further when black women have tried to sue specifically as BLACK WOMEN, in one case it was dismissed because trying to represent all women ( ie white women) wasn’t possible.

Basically the laws are created to people with either race disadvantage or gender disadvantage, not BOTH.

Further you seem to think that if only black come together the affects will “trickle down” to black women. But that will NOT Be the case. The only way black men can be equal to white men is to have male privilege AND racial privilege. And the only way for white women to be equal to white men is to have gender privilege and racial privilege. Here is a quote from Crenshaw (it’s long)

Instead, the dominant message of antidiscrimination law is that it will regulate

only the limited extent to which race or sex interferes with the process of

determining outcomes. This narrow objective is facilitated by the top-down

strategy of using a singular “but for” analysis to ascertain the effects of race

or sex. Because the scope of antidiscrimination law is so limited, sex and race

discrimination have come to be defined in terms of the experiences of those

who are privileged but far their racial or sexual characteristics. Put differently,

the paradigm of sex discrimination tends to be based on the experiences of

white women; the model of race discrimination tends to be based on the

xperiences of the most privileged Blacks. Notions of what constitutes race

and sex discrimination are, as a result, narrowly tailored to embrace only a

small set of circumstances, none of which include discrimination against Black

women.

Imagine a basement which contains all people who are disadvantaged on the basis of race,

sex, class, sexual preference, age and/or physical ability. These people are

stacked—feet standing on shoulders—with those on the bottom being disad

vantaged by the full array of factors up to the very top, where the heads of

all those disadvantaged by a singular factor brush up against the ceiling. Their

ceiling is actually the floor above which only those who are not disadvantaged

in any way reside. In efforts to correct some aspects of domination, those above

the ceiling admit from the basement only those who can say that “but for’

the ceiling, they too would be in the upper room. A hatch is developed through

which those placed Immediately below can crawl. Yet this hatch is generally

available only to those who—due to the singularity of their burden and their

otherwise privileged position relative to those below—are In the position to

crawl through. Those who are multiply-burdened are generally left below unless

they can somehow pull themselves into the groups that are permitted to squeeze

through the hatch.

As this analogy translates for Black women, the problem is that they can

receive protection only to the extent that their experiences are recognizably

similar to those whose experiences tend to be reflected in antidiscrimination

doctrine. If Black women cannot conclusively say that “but for” their race or

“but for” their gender they would be treated differently, they are not invited

to climb through the hatch but told to wait in the unprotected margin until

they can be absorbed into the broader, protected categories of race and sex.

Despite the narrow scope of this dominant conception of discrimination

and its tendency to marginali.ze those whose experiences cannot be described

within its tightly-drawn parameters, this approach has been regarded as the

appropriate framework for addressing a range of problems. In much of feminist

theory and, to some extent, in antiracist politics, this framework is reflected

in the belief that sexism or racism can be meaningfully discussed without

paying attention to the lives of those other than the race-, gender- or classprivileged.

As a result, both feminist theory and antiracist politics have been

organized, in part, around the equation of racism with what happens to the

Black middle-class or to Black men, and the equation of sexism with what

happens to white women.

Now lets get back to what you said:

When segregated schools ended we all benefited. When we get ourselves out of the economic slump we are in we will all benefit. And truth be told, Black women recieve the upperhand in school admissions and in the work force. Black men are far more incarerated as well. Yet when they are emanciapted from those issues we will benefit. And when issues that are particulaly devastating to Black women, HIV AIDS, misogomy by our brothers, when these issues come to an end Black men will benefit from that as well.
The divide and conqur method has always been used to keep us down, whether in slavery, colonialism, or political oppression. The more we waste time promoting division instead of unity, the longer things won’t change. Let’s educate Black men on the struggles of being a Black woman, rather than allienating ourselves.

Yes black women somewhat benefited from civil rights and feminist laws but ONLY because again in some way they narrowly fit through the hatch. But lets not pretend that the laws created now and before are made purposely to benefit black women .They are made to for black men and black women lucky enough to have a specific problem.  (Another good book to read is All the Women are White All the Blacks  Are Men)   In fact black women have been largely silenced because the two groups supposed to represent black women only help people who are black or woman.   Not only are black laws ( the few that are made) made for black men, but the black community also has a large problem of telling black women that  black women are in fact somehow “better off than black men” Hell you yourself just said.

“Black women recieve the upperhand in school admissions and in the work force. Black men are far more incarerated as well. Yet when they are emanciapted from those issues we will benefit”

Sure black women graduate more than black men.  Yes more black men are incarcerated.  But you are still thinking on the unilateral schema that black men are not privileged because of their gender. For example all of the sports scholarships that go out in the black community, end up going into the hands of black men.  The majority of black music  stars  that reach mainstream are black men and they hold the majority of money.( That black women never see again.) And they got their fame and use their fame to destroy the image of black women. Further on our  level (middle class)  , while black women graduate more and may be incarcerated less once they have their money they  DO NOT get to use it in a way that benefits them. Because they are forced to be the caregivers of their parents and grandchildren.  I don’t know if you’ve heard the studies that say black women have a savings of 6$. (It could have been eight)

Finally you seem to think that black men would or can give up their gender privilege so that we can all work together.  That CAN NOT happen. NOT if they ever want to get ahead.  Meaning they have to KEEP their gender privilege like white men to get themselves through the latch. Just like when it comes down to it, white women need their racial privilege (and then gender privilege to equal white men)

That means they have to press the advantage they have over black women, and largely why black men don’t mind sex privilege or patriarchal societies. (That was never black men’s problem. The problem was they were under white men) and the same goes for white women.) That means that black men need to favor light skin over dark skin, and push a society where men are in charge and black women subordinate.  It’s another reason why black men don’t acknowledge sexual harassment, street harassment, rape of black women by black men, intersectinoality, colorism ect. To do so would mean to change and give up privilege. And that can’t happen in the basement Crenshaw describes.

Imagine the basement like this  (x’s represent people)

xxxxxxxxxxxx—–white men

———————————–latch to get out.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx/xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx- Black men/white women

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx- black women

Say that black men give up  their sex privilege and work with black women to get ahead  and actually achieve racial equality.  If they have racial equality but give up gender privilege they will still be where they were to begin with (albeit where white women are) The same goes for white women. If white women give up racial privilege but gain full gender privilege they will still be right where they are. Second to white men but equal to black men in the “but for”game.

Black women on the other hand will have nothing. Because they can only get through the hatch with ONE or the OTHER.  You can’t use both. ( In fact in the Crenshaw pdf it was said that black women couldn’t be a protected class in itself because black women would then have the same racial and sexual protection as WHITE MEN) and that ain’t going to happen.

In this unilateral basement both groups need privilege over someone ( black women in this case) to have any relative power.

So where am I going with all of this. Well my point is that black women are NOT needed to have any movements.  Unless you simply need a body count (which is why the civil rights movement worked). They bolstered the numbers.  But once that is over black women won’t be able to receive full racial benefits because of their gender and they won’t be able to receive full gender privileges because of their race. IF they did things would be equal. And in capitalism that can’t happen.

When I say walk away from the black community (and feminist community) I say that because black women are getting used.  The laws created are going to hurt black women. ( which is why I say in another post being a “black feminist “is a paradox.”) Further, for the black community to come together black men want black women to stop supporting feminists for the good of the whole. What happens in this case is black men area able to use sexism to hurt black women to gain racial rights. Same with the feminist community. Feminists don’t like to admit to racial privilege and want black women who come to the group to forget this is an issue. In turn these same feminist end up hurting black women who forget about this.

It’s creates a big cluster F black women can’t get out of.

So the only thing black women who can do is let each group fight for whatever they want to do. Black women are NOT in the position to help those who not only have more privilege and are using that to remain ahead of black women. The only way to help everyone, as Crenshaw expalins is to work bottom up. Help those on the bottom (people who have race and gender disadvantage ie black women)  and that would automatically help those above. But of course the groups on top don’t want to lose what they have or they are too afraid to  do anything.

If you have any alternative. (besides supporting groups already privilege in the hopes black women get crumbs)  I genuinely want to know. Until then the only thing I can say is that black women need to live their lives from themselves.  And that is a possibility.

http://www.amazon.com/But-Some-Of-Are-Brave/dp/0912670959/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354073266&sr=8-1&keywords=all+the+women+are+white+all+the+blacks+are+men

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5 thoughts on “Response to Comment

  1. Hello again,
    I guess my biggest issue with some of your points is generalizing how Black men approach the issue. Most of the “enlightened and educated” (I use that term lightly lol) Black leaders, like Shapton, Jackson, Smiley, West, Zelous, who I’ve come across in the media promote gender equality and support feminist. Dr Marc Lamont Hill even considers himself a feminist.
    Now, I agree that that may be a small sample out of the bulk of our community. Let’s get real, most of our community is ignorant, asleep, dormant. That is why we have little boys out there calling females bitches, hos, and tricks. Many men in our community see black women as foot stools, pussy, and in a since as their personal slaves. Those are the ignorant Black men in our community.
    But, as many ignorant Black men, there are ignorant Black women. They, as well as the men, do not care about any forms of gender equality. They are willing to be defined by whats between their legs rather than whats in their heads. And… they will put a Black man down just as quick as a Black man will put them down.
    So what I am saying is that yes, there are those who certainly do not care about gender equality, female and male. And yes, there are men who accept and champion their priviledge over women. But they are IGNORANT. And that is why I think it is not our duty as women to not go off on our own, but to educate our sons, brothers, sisters, and daughters, on the parrels of being a Black woman in society.
    Now, you are a Black feminist, so you have a persepctive on the issues that is unique. Like woman like Angela Davis you understand sexism like you do racism. And of course, white feminist, nor Black race activist, do not understand the struggle like you do. I see it as more progressive for you to champion Black womans rights, within the catagory of Black rights. I just don’t think they are seperate from eachother. They’re of the same cloth, yet they take aim at the issue from different vantage points. Using Davis as an example again, I think it is powerful that she is a Black feminist activist, yet the second she is confronted by an issue that all Black people have in common, that becomes her fight as well. She even wrote a powerful book on the prison industrial complex, an issue largely faced by Black men.
    I think we should fight the battles that God has put in our heart. For me, my heart is Black mass-incarceration, economic development, and education. Yet when I see a Black feminist educating our people on Black woman, I won’t hesitate to join with her to do so. Because we are more powerful together. And I’m not letting Black men off the hook, because I expect when Black women are being mistreated, any Black man who understands race issues should rise to our defense, and fight with us. Same with Black Gay activist, Black childrens activist….ect. Fight the fight the way God showed you to fight it, but don’t hesitate to jump in the ring when you find that you are fighting the same oppressor over the same issues.

    • Hi,
      So I’m assuming you didn’t read the intersectionality links I posted?

      First, I’d like to address which oppressor are we talking about? White Men? Because if we’re going to talk about oppressors of black women we also have to include black men and white women who enjoy and benefit from the system in place. (Again like I said in the post neither group has a problem with racial privilege or gender privilege when they use it against other people ONLY when it is used by white men to keep them in second place.)
      “I see it as more progressive for you to champion Black womans rights, within the catagory of Black rights. I just don’t think they are seperate from eachother. They’re of the same cloth, yet they take aim at the issue from different vantage points. “

      They are not the same issue and I don’t see how they can be because the hope of women’s rights and civil rights contradict each other. Black men can’t keep rights without patriarchy and white women feminists can’t keep rights without racism. Black feminism would be trying to choose which limb is more important. You’re NOT going to win and to get rid of either one is detrimental. They wouldn’t be separate if either side worked together but alas that can never be.
      Second. I am NOT a black feminist! LOL. In fact that couldn’t be farther from what I am. Not only do I have moral issues with the feminist community ( they do things I just can’t cosign) but again the idea of being a black civil rights activist and feminist are a paradox. Because they both can’t coexist. Simply because they both are benefiting the oppression of the other side. Black men from gender oppression white feminists from racial oppression. I’m am a black women who used to think that equality would come if we black women only just helped white feminist and black men get the equality they so craved. Until I realized that the system was only to benefit the privileged first.

      Third, Why do you feel the need to defend black men? Or more specifically why do you feel the need to call me out for “generalizing” black men? Yes I know that there are black men that are black feminists. (At least I don’t think I said “all black men “anything) Though I’m honestly a little bewildered that Sharpton was cited as a black feminist seeing as how he has defended violent rapists of black women. For all of the “good black men who support feminists”, the majority (at least 51%) of black men not only DON’T give a damn about black women being abused and treated like crap in the media ( See DL Hughley’s recent insults to black women who are paying his bills) and outside of the media (See black men’s responses to lil reese stomping on his child’s mother video and russel simmons subsequent non caring response.) They CANT give a damn and stay privileged. (Again intersectionality coming into play.)
      The *few* black men who care are just NOT ENOUGH to overturn a system that too many people are enjoying. Further, what makes you think that these black men appreciate what you are doing? From the temperature in the black community, black men have largely abandoned defending black women (except the few) and for all of black women’s defense of black men and fighting the good fight, black men have now labeled black women as hard unfeminine, and ugly. Pretty much a slap in the face for the black women who stupidly stood behind them. Because when it came down to it black men wanted “feminine women” I hear no collective thank you’s to the black women around from the larger majority of black men. There is an overwhelming silence from the “Good black men” who okay and laud violence, abuse and mal treatment of the black women who are *supposed* to be their “sisters”. (Uppercutting busdriver anyone?) The only time I hear black men say they need black women is when they need to “fight” white men ( and it is always ONLY white men never white women who can be racist pricks because white women are oppressed just like black men) and then when they have their power, use it to hurt black women further. For instance black men gained the power to date and mate with whoever they want. Which is great. BUT now it has turned into a “Black women can never live up to white women’s beauty and femininity.”

      In truth, in this patriarchal society Black Women cannot save a race of people. Women in general don’t have the power to save the race. And there aren’t enough black men (or even women who care anyways) Hell you just said most black people are asleep.
      It is not my DUTY to educate anyone. It is my duty to be the person GOD wants me to be. It is my duty to live my life correctly, and it is my duty to do my best. It is not my duty to educate misguided or non caring black people on how to be better black people. Simply put, even if I wanted to I don’t have the strength. And it isn’t fair or right, or just, to pressure black women to sacrifice for something no one else will sacrifice for.

      I was not put on this earth to defend black men or coddle them. If black men want to pull themselves out of the “gutter”( I put this in quotes because black men DO have power in some ways) great! I say that’s great, but I, who have less power than them cannot collectively pull all the bedraggled, rabble rousing, ragtag black people together for some sort of revolution. This is how black women become unhappy unfeminine mules. And I guarantee that black men are NOT doing the same. And honestly who would expect them to? There is a difference between helping and Jihading. I am not going to Jihad.
      Finally I used to think like you. That black people could come together and feminists of all races could come together and everything would be A okay and we’ll all sing kumbaya once the Evil white man and his oppressive ways were shut down. I used to think that once
      Black men got the justice they “deserved” all blacks would be better off because it would trickle down. And that once white women finally shut down the patriarchy we would all live in harmony. Until it hit me. This can never be. Both groups ENJOY what power they have. And sometimes you can be defending the “little guy” and when they finally get power they use it to harm you. My sister has a saying that I think is accurate and appropriate in this case: Geeks are just popular people who haven’t yet had the opportunity to screw you over” in this case it would be “civil rights activists and feminists are just people who don’t have the full opportunity to oppress.” Not to mention the trickle down idea that has been peddled to black women has not worked in larger society. (See the trickledown theory in economics. Where they richer people’s money spreads down. What happened is 1% holds all of the money while 99% of people have nothing.) Why should I as a black woman accept a trickle when I can have the whole bottle of water?
      Last, it is my strong belief that black women can live happy politically neutral lives without having to be the messengers of black men/feminists. Again their movements have always moved without black women who largely were just a body count. And again they never returned the favor anyway.. (See feminists response to Ashley Judd calling hip hop sexist or black men’s response to any issue black women have.) Black women can live their lives pursue education, opportunities, religion, marriage, children, WITHOUT having to sell themselves for that dogma or lose their femininity. And I challenge you to show me one black man in power who has helped black women’s rights specifically for black women and NOT because it benefited black men first. I don’t think it’s possible.

      Anyway,
      I agree that we need to fight the battles in our hearts. And I enjoyed some of the posts at your blog.

      http://www.whataboutourdaughters.com/ you might like this site.

      • I don’t even think she read your response, much less visited the links.
        She’s just another male-identified BW trying to push her tilted view of things. I get these folks all the time and I haven’t even been blogging for a year yet. At least she’s one of the smart ones, and kept her comments civil. 🙂

        • @ blackfemaleculture She responded to my post with more obfuscation basically skirting all of the evidence that I said. Because if she had clicked on the links or read the pdf on intersectionality she would have realized that what I was saying is irrefutable and back backed up by studies

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