Black women don’t owe you shit

A Twitter encounter yesterday got me thinking about how most white women I encounter somehow demand that I be of service to them — and how this assumed privilege leads to the inherent mistrust black women have of white women.

Essentially, a white woman responded to a status I retweeted 3 weeks ago, and demanded to know how I felt about black people teaching white people how to twerk.

I retweeted a photo from someone else who took a screen shot of a magazine clipping that gave steps on how to twerk. This woman asked me how I felt, and I simply refused to engage with her (as a matter of mental wellbeing, I have a policy of not engaging with people who respond to tweets that are weeks, if not days, old; most people who do this are trolling for content and/or are trying to catch you in some sort of contradictory statement). I referred to her as a troll (I mean, who else responds to a tweet that’s 3 weeks old) and blocked her.

That didn’t stop this person from unleashing a rash of tweets railing against me and throwing a tantrum because I refused to deal with her foolishness. She actually made a series of tweets that revealed her true colors:

Image from Tweetbot - 9-21-13  12-11 PMI should note those and another set of tweets that basically ridiculed me and another black woman on Twitter who refused to play the role of supporting actors in this and other white women’s drama on social media were deleted. In a nutshell, this woman got pissed off because she expected me to engage with her about the photo I retweeted and lost her shit because I wouldn’t.

The woman who went after me on Twitter yesterday felt it was my *duty* to pay attention to her and validate her ridiculous and racist question with an answer. And when she didn’t get her way, she went on a rampage accusing me and other black women of abusing and derailing white women who are just asking questions. My refusal to play her game is the reason why so many white women refuse to be allies with black and other women of color, she writes.

Yes, white women refuse to be allies because the big black bitches refuse to play nice. Not because of her basking in her white supremacy and her racist notion that I be on call to teach and explain to her everything there is to know about blackness…

All this got me thinking about privilege-denying, white supremacist-backing white women, and the tyranny they can cause when they don’t get their way. These women are like to have it both ways: sit upon their pedestal and look down with resentment upon people of color and, when it suits them, jump off their pedestal and claim that if we dismantle sexism, other forms of oppression will crumble. These same women will decry the persistence of sexism/misogyny/misogynoir, but deny they are complicit in white supremacist imperialist capitalist patriarchy that oppress people of color on a totally different level they can comprehend.

My experience has taught me that there are far too many white women out there who are more than happy to go along with the systemic oppression of people of color, particularly black women, when they have something to gain. My first experience in the tyranny of white women started when I was fresh out of college and working my first job in my career field.

This woman who was not really my superior, but managed the newsroom when the managing editor was not around, went to great lengths to create drama. She would routinely check my time card, read my work emails after I’d left the office, meet with me every morning and go over my “errors” (while making note how she had to stay so late to correct them) and accuse me of not wanting to work with her (because all black women have an attitude). This woman accused me of insubordination and pretty much sabotaged everyone she hated, particularly the people of color in the building, and created this notion that we all did not want to work with her and we had “problems” with her. I eventually got a better paying job and moved on while she stayed in the same position until she eventually got laid off (needless to say, her behavior caught up with her).

That and other abusive work-related situations pretty much made me hesitant to being friendly with white women in the work place. Not to mention the falling out in social settings over white women who expect me to go along with their racist sentiments, and accuse me of being angry and obstructionist when I don’t. Not to mention the white women who expect me to teach them how not to be racist pieces of shit and how they can learn to see people of color as humans,  not tangible objects they can exploit and use as props in their causes. To this day, I only have one, maybe two, white women I consider actual friends. The situation on Twitter yesterday pretty much made me more steadfast in keeping my distance.

I write this because I am tired. I am tired of white women thinking and believing that I exist to serve them. That I exist as a way for them to explore the exotic without leaving the confines of their bubbles. I am tired of the hair questions, their resentful looks when a white guy actually shows more interest in me than them, the “oh, that’s weird” comment in their reaction to a white guy liking my afro, expecting me to be their on-call lecturer on all things race-related and demanding that I toss aside my well-being just to coddle and validate their feelings of being good white women who are dedicated to the cause of dismantling oppression.

I am tired of white women who devalue our autonomy and believe we should be grateful that they take time out of their day to ask us questions. I’m tired of white women acting like they deserve a fucking medal for showing women of color the basic dignity and humanity we’ve been marching and dying for for the past four centuries.

So, no. I won’t let you feel my hair and marvel at how soft it is. No, I won’t recede to the sidelines and serve as your sidekick while you scrounge around for white men to hook up with. No, I will not let your perplexing comments about how weird it is that a white guy likes my afro go unchecked. No, I will not validate your perceived superiority by giving you resentful looks whenever I see you out with a random black guy who is just as unappealing to me as you are. No, I will not wipe your white woman’s tears, hold your hand and assure you that the racist shit you said was not all that bad. No, I won’t stand in as your token black friend who you allude to when you’re accused of being racist. I won’t be your social justice football you can kick around when needed, and tossed back into the closet when you’re bored, ready to move onto the next cause or when it gets too hard to acknowledge and work on your white female privilege.

Black women don’t owe you shit, white women. You are not entitled to my time and attention just so I can go over basic oppression 101 with you whenever you’re feeling scholarly and want to learn how to be a decent person. Black women and other women of color are not obligated to cater to your privilege and serve as on-demand professors just because you’re too lazy to pick up a book. No, I don’t owe you shit.

 

52 comments on “Black women don’t owe you shit

  1. Brilliant essay! Yes…please speak!
    That woman was disgusting and the fact that she started including my handle in her tirade when I never even spoke to her at all disgusted me. I am so sick of “Mean Girls” feminism from White women. I am tired of them and this. Other than a few tried and true intersectional feminists who are White women that I talk to online, I keep my distance as well. I’ve written about similar issues as what you’ve experienced.

        1. I am a white woman who volunteers at a place that helps low income people from all races to retrain and also to sell low cost computers. Almost all our clients are immigrants. Speaking of entitlement we work for free and dont have a vehicle and they almost DEMAND the computer for free and want it delivered to them on THEIR time schedule. They try to drop the price and its half the price of a store. I also work in a building with various cultures but there is one black younger woman who works as exex assistant and she is from africa. She is so nasty to me and other women there she acts like she owns the building. She was in a bad situation before they got her this job she has it doesnt even pay much. She is very mean, demeaning, I try to be nice and she is pathetic. She has not been in canada that long, she makes racist comments too. I never had a problem in my life with women I am very laid back and competitive. She even has the nerve to say why arent u guys here much (its a nonprofit). The building is owned by the grey nuns not HER! She should get off her high horse. By the way its whites who got her her job and the building is owned by whites called the grey nuns.

          1. Did you even read the essay? You do understand that it’s not about you personally, right? Your story does nothing, but repeats the defensive counterpoints perpetuated by whites who are uncomfortable with examining their racism and white privilege: “well, we all are not like that” and “well, you guys treat us like shit, too.”

          2. I just wanted your opinion on how new immigrants who happen to be black treat canadian born of any color, be it white, black or native, because I have friends who are canadian born and we are all the same culture and men tality that these women from africa are not. One is portugese, one is half native, half french, I am mixed white. Also as far as white privilege do u realize that there were more irish slaves in ameria, england and the commonwealth than blacks? I grew up middle class but that was due to hard work not privilege. My nana was not privilege she was starving in nova scotia aloneside all other races so they moved to my city. My birth city has more poverty than any other city in canada and its 97% white. Dont think there is privilege there! People live off 65 a month after rent for food! Lowest welfare rates in the nation. They do not get subsidized housing like new immigrant women do in ontario. THere is no drug plan there. Alot do not have doctors. There is no provincially paid for daycare either. I left that city 6 times due to no work and the last time I had to leave because the employer laid off the local women to hire an immigrant from hong kong as a student so he could get 10000 kickback. She is rich and doesnt even need to work she is just doing it so when she returns to hong kong she can get a better job. So due to being evicted and my roomate was denied social assistance because I supposely made too much (880 a month!).

          3. So are you shocked? Does the truth hurt you? DId the liberals try to tell you all whites are rich and live in mansion?

  2. What hacks me off as well with this ridiculous “duty to educate” bullshit is that Black women – marginalised people of all kinds – HAVE educated, repeatedly and endlessly. There are innumerable forums, blogs, journals, twitter feeds et al that have given information about everything and anything (probably three times over). To expect someone to spoon feed when all that information is freely out there is a level of entitlement that is nauseating in its extent.

    It shows a demand to control – not a willingness to actually learn

  3. Honestly, I’m on here reading this as a white woman and I want to say that I am so sorry for all the shit you’ve gotten from us.
    That said, I just wanted to offer my viewpoint, which is that I honestly feel so embarrassed for all the horrible things my race has done to yours in the past that I just tend to be awkward and shy around black people. I don’t know, I just feel like it’s such an irreparable sin. I’m always afraid of offending someone or being perceived as stuck up, so I just stay quiet most of the time because I see everyone doing the things you describe and I feel like if I join in I’ll just be seen as one of the same, as well as being fairly mortified at how my white peers act towards black people a lot of the time.

    I don’t know if this is helpful or just confirms you think we suck, but I think that at least a few of us may be feeling like I do, so maybe it’s useful to know.

    1. Vicki, NBW and a whole lot of us reading and responding to this, does not cite our ire as an all pervasive statement towards ALL white women born into humanity. WE don’t think the collective YOU suck, just the white priviliged bitches who are bitches even when not engaging with black women and others (race, class, education, location, numbered edition of her Coach handbag, etc.).

      I cringe to say that I have white friends, that call me friend. And, after decades and years of knowing and being known, we get to know one another the same way and same pace as I do with other black women. Yes, all of y’all don’t suck; and I believe so many more are more human than you are white. The humanity which acknowledges the oppression of being born into the legacy of the oppressor. The humanity which exacerbates fear of social interaction lest your skin over identifies you as painful instead of possible friend. The humanity which doesn’t make you color blind, but rather draws you to empathy and exploring the enclave beyond white privilege.

      You no more have to apologize for your ancestors and neighbors as I will no more be obligated to hold course in How to Be Less of a White Clueless Bitch 101 on demand. I only ask that you live a life boldly authentic and fearless; that you speak up — even if your voice shakes — when people of color and black women especially are at the painful end of feminist hatred; that you acknowledge me with a smile and greeting; and most of all, that you don’t kill my sons with your silence that becomes complicit in murdering his body and soul.
      I hope you learn the joy of being friends with a black woman. Not because she’s black, but because the color of her world will be a kaleidoscope!

    2. Instead of being shy and awkward, you should just get to know black people as you know… people. We feel joy, pain, lust, disgust etc just like anyone else. Acting a different way because you’re in front of black people is sure be obvious and make everyone involved feel some kind of way…..

    3. If you do nothing, say nothing to those behaving in racist ways, you perpetuate the problem. I’m sorry, but coming here to apologize for them and for your fear doesn’t change anything. If you truly care, your actions speak louder than words. YouTube search for ‘how to tell someone they sound racist’ by illdoc 1. Check it and the comments out. I’ve learned a lot and used that knowledge often when confronting racist behavior. If you do nothing visible to them, you are accepting their behavior and sending a message that you support their actions. Fear is no excuse.

  4. Ok, I thought it was just me. There was a white woman who came to my Facebook page for a boycott that I’m doing and she asked me a stupid ass racists question in the comments section under a photo I posted. I told her that she wasn’t entitled to a debate with me and that she was dismissed. She was livid and started bombarding the photo with all sorts of comments. I kept antagonizing her with comments like “mmm hmmm” or *yawns – rubs eyes* because every time she commented it would show up in both of our news feeds thereby increasing the number of views the picture received. After over 12 hours of this from her I made her aware of this and thanked her for all the free publicity, she backed off. She just could not believe that I did not want to engage her. Started attacking my education and all sorts of other stuff. It was utterly disgusting.
    http://beenthroughalot.blogspo.com

  5. Really interesting article. You said a lot of things I’ve always felt but never knew I wanted to say. What’s interesting is that she herself has “Don’t ask me questions; I’m not here to educate you.” on her profile. It’s interesting she expects you to do what she herself won’t do. I hate to further a divide between black and white feminists, but it’s there. It’s absolutely there and just being ignored.

      1. Just to clarify, I think that Kay-El is referring to the OP twitter profile. The lady who was harassing you. She’s calling out the other lady, not you. It is ironic that *she* has “Don’t ask me questions; I’m not here to educate you” listed on her profile while she clearly expects you to do the same. That’s all.

    1. What you can’t seem to understand is you’re not entitled to my opinion on what other random black people do in their spare time. I’d suggest you go back and re-read what I wrote because it’s obviously not sinking in.

      1. I do get it. I am a black woman myself and I get this all the time abut my name, my hair and my body. I just chose to comment on one of the things I saw in the article that I found ironic when I saw her twitter profile as well. This articles was really great stuff.

  6. I’m very sorry for your experience, and for what bullshit white women like me put you through on a daily basis. Thank you for writing this–

  7. Interesting that the author seems *happy* in those (rare) moments when a white man finds her more attractive than a white woman. Yet, the author is not so gleeful regarding the white woman and the black man. *Weird!* The white man finds you to be an exotic animal dear, nothing more. Wake up, its been over 500 years now. Can you say: “Negro Bed Wench” mentality?? Pathetic!!

      1. Don’t all men see us like this? Has you ever heard janes addictions. Song that goes “all i ever wanted was a black girlfriend?” Much better than majority of the hip hop songs that degrade us and classify us as putang popping twerkalicious nymphos.

  8. Damn, now tell them how you really feel! Seriously, this reminds me of a couple of sisters I used to work with in corporate who were really stressed over dealing with white colleagues in the workplace. Of course, the brothers had it just as bad. That’s one of the reasons I went for a change of venue by pursuing self employment, which lowered my stress level tenfold. This is one of the reasons why we don’t need to be wedded to these workplaces. Self employment is not for everyone and whether you choose that or not, it just makes sense to not live a consumerist type of lifestyle mainly because that’s an added level of stress because one feels like they have no other options than to put up with this foolishness due to having bills to pay; many of which are often unnecessary. Many of our people are stuck like that in unhappy situations and psychologically it’s not good to be around folks you don’t like and don’t trust.

  9. Thank You! This definitely applies to white men and how they attempt to engage Black Men as well. I had to give one a light lesson just yesterday on white privilege and how unimportant his opinions are, as well as the fact that white people do not dictate how Black People operate. ( I think he’s STILL sick off of that one. )

    1. Ur welcome to tell you truth it did not work as it plan the point it’s that i like you as human being, but most who cruel unforgiveble is just sad to me

  10. In my experience, it’s anathema for most white people to be considered racist, and yet if we’re presented with our own racism or privilege, we freak out and refuse to acknowledge it as such (generally speaking, of course). I try to check my privilege, and yet sometimes when someone is telling me I said something racist or indicative of my white cisgendered male privilege, I get defensive. I think the problem is that our society tends to view racism as this big bad concept that only exists in Klan marches and Neo-Nazi rallies, and not in our own small prejudices, so when someone does call us out on something, our instinct is to defend ourselves because “we’re not that bad.”

  11. I can’t thank you enough for this article. although I am a writer by profession, only now, through your essay, do I have the right words for the outrage I felt following an interaction i had recently with an Israeli man living in the US (originally American, I’ll add). He was incomprehensibly outraged that I refused to engage with him in a “Palestinian-Israeli dialogue”.

    I tried to explain to him why meaningful dialogue can only happen between equals; that it cannot happen between those who are, as a matter of state law, entitled and privileged, and those who are, also as a matter of state law, denigrated, deprived, dispossessed, and disinherited (precisely to provide the aforementioned entitlement and privilege). I told him that the dialogue groups, so en vogue now, are merely a place where Palestinians are expected to prove their humanity. I actually took the time to educate him, as politely as I could, thinking that, as a fellow artist, he might get it.

    What ensued from him was a racist and vile rant that kept coming, message after message on facebook. He accused me of being hateful and an extremist (among other things), then proceeded to mock me before concluding with the language that power always uses, indicating that the only way we Palestinians will ever get anything is through Israel. In true patriarchal finger-wagging-in-the-face, I’m-the-one-with-all-the-power form, he said: “once you realize that your methods may be only hurting the Palestinian cause….because if it’s otherwise….where are your results?”

    You’ve inspired me to write about this incident. Of course, I will give due credit when I publish it.

    a warm hug with gratitude for your light

  12. Everyone has the right to ask questions and everyone has the right to answer or not to answer. You are making a drama about some (!) white women who ask you about racistic behaviour – but YOU are encouraging such questions using the nick “New Black Woman”. This makes people think you to be interested in such discussions.

    1. I one them i mean think about it i’m half but i’m native still lota guys teded to annoying me i’m shy guy is just wrong what guys do stuff to me hide me like a treasure but deep down i have feelings for Black women too, i love nice sweets gentel soft loving chocolate of them all,

  13. How do u explain when a new african woman to canada abuse and mistreats canadian black women or native women?? They act like WE OWE THEM SOMETHING………….and they just came from africa!

  14. I would like to say something. I am a white woman. I am very impressed with your article. I agree with all that you have said. I am educated and grew up in a small town where there were literally a family that consisted of only 5 black people. I can remember in high school being suspended from school for fighting someone that made a very racist comment. I didnt know why (at the time) why these words hurt me so much. I remember crying myself to sleep that night. Not because I got into trouble, but because all I could see was the face of that sad little black child the comment was directed to. My body was consumed with sadness and rage. Even to this day, in all my 34 years when I hear racist comments I have to speak up. People say it isn’t my fight to fight. That they are certainly wrong about. Maybe if more white people felt the way I did than this world wouldn’t be the still segregated place it is. It is time that every ethnicity shielded each other from this hatred. I am sorry that these things happened to you! I sincerely hope you know that not every white person carries this ignorance. Some can see the ignorance of their own race!

  15. I do understand the writers anger, and in the past I have felt like the author. I just say rather than wasting your time talking about white people who do not care about you, let us as black women work on ourselves. Let the white female be the white males problem and vice versa. I am not a racist black woman, just a black woman who believes in truly taking care of herself and loving herself. Notice the most beautiful, healthy intelligent black women are those who take care of themselves .

  16. It all must boil down to their elitist mentality, and their lack of a sense of humanity, along with the ever all-encompassing white privilege that they throw around…for instance: I was ordering my children and I a pizza from a drive-thru pick up window, and the drive thru cashier looked into my back window at my little 9 year old daughter. My little girl has beautiful, long natural hair down to her waist, and I had brushed it up into two pony tails and let all the rest of her hair flow loose. We were just leaving church, so I had my daughter’s hair looking cute! The cashier, who happened to be white, commences to “instruct” me that I ‘need’ to straighten my child’s hair. “Aren’t you going to do something about her hair?” The cashier asked me. I replied, “Should something be done about it?” She replied, ‘”Yes, because it’s so poofy!” I ignore her, because clearly she must be touched in the head to continue dialogue with me about my child’s gorgeous curls, but she continues…”She needs a perm! You NEED to straighten it”, and I replied back to her very politely and with courtesy, “No, I believe I will leave her hair just the way it is”. At that, I noticed that this white girl had become angry! Angry, because my child’s gorgeous, natural 3b/3c curls offended her! It’s like Paul Mooney said, “When your hair is nappy, white people are not happy”…I just marvelled at this girl’s arrogance. Commanding me and ordering me to ‘straighten’ my child’s hair…..the ignorance continues….

    1. Hi there it is unfortunate that you encountered an ignorant person, but we have to learn to ignore them as much as possible, they can be ignorant to each other a lot. The solution is for us to keep our interactions with all of them to a minimum and not bother with every garbage that comes out of their holes. Remember many of them do not know what to do with themselves, so many should go blank themselves, Let us not fall into the same trap and keep our interactions with them and certain others to a minimum.

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