Hey, America: Black Women Are NOT After-THOTs!!!

Over the centuries, Americans have conditioned themselves to see Black women as beneath their contempt, as unworthy of old-fashioned chivalry or the basic common decency extended to strangers in the street. They see Black women as after-THOTs. That’s not a misspelling, by the way. It’s my expression of the dismissive scorn heaped on Black women in particular, and the spelling borrows from the latest urban colloquial acronym for That Hoe Over There, women of loose sexual virtues. (I don’t know if it’s been used elsewhere, but I thought it worked pretty well with the point I want to make today.)

THOTs are nameless. Why should anyone find meaningful ways to distinguish between women — like talents and achievements — when it’s so easy to assume that they are all over-sexualized and want to be either ravaged by consent or that they harbor secret rape fantasies.

So what am I really upset about? It’s the shocking swell of resentful attacks directed at Mo’ne Davis, the Little League pitching phenom who captivated sports fans all over the country in last year’s Little League World Series. News that Disney was planning a movie about the young athlete had barely circulated through the media, when Davis’ shining moment was overshadowed by a string of resentful Tweets from whites, who were salty that a Black woman should be acknowledged for achieving something remarkable and inspiring!

The most vile of the Tweets came from Joey Casselberry, a Bloomsburg University student athlete who tapped this out in response to the news. Mind you, he was talking about a 14-year old child:

“WHAT A JOKE. That slut got rocked by Nevada”

That’s right. Mo’ne Davis didn’t take the Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton route to fame. She has athletic talent, and she pitched a shutout game on the biggest Little League stage. It is an amazing accomplishment. She also happens to be very photogenic, which makes her a potential media darling, and Disney wants to capitalize on her popularity with a movie production, which makes sense. A feel-good flick that “girls everywhere” can embrace and be inspired by. But somehow this is terrible news to a few idiots who happen to be armed with computers and Internet access.

University officials became aware of his vile missives, and booted Casselberry from the school’s softball team. Sounds fair to me, but in an astounding and very worrying turn of events, Miss Davis spoke up about her forgiveness and pleaded that he be reinstated. That’s what has me so upset. Who in the world talked this child out of her worth? Who told her that when a man, far older and bigger than her, insults and degrades her like that, that he deserves to walk away from it with no consequences?

No level of spirituality, no amount of forgiveness or Christian teaching should oblige the victim of an attack to wish that the perpetrator not face punishment for his (or her) actions. Why can’t Black people, for once and for all, understand that our daughters are priceless? Just as priceless as anyone else’s, and that their lives are precious? Why does our community not only defend attackers like Casselberry, but also ones within our ranks? We see it in the way women — Black women — are quick to castigate Black women celebrities who are struggling with difficult or abusive husbands and boyfriends. It happens so often, and is so visible, unfortunately, that we can actually start ranking the “All-Time Most Abusive Celebrity Relationships.” Let’s see who will win this shameful distinction. Will it be Tina and Ike Turner? Halle Berry and Mr. X? Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown?

I don’t understand what makes so many of these handmaidens, worshippers of the abusers, so heartless and callous. Where was your heart for the Miss Black America contestant who also endured the public trial that eventually convicted Mike Tyson of rape? Where was your heart when those photos surfaced of Rihanna, beaten to an inch of her life?

Is this a case of entrenched “misogynoir,” anti-Black women sentiments in visual and popular culture? Moya Bailey, a gay feminist author coined the term to “describe how racism and anti-Blackness alter the experience of misogyny for Black women, specifically.” Examples of Misogynoir include the rejection of Black women’s natural hair and ‘twerking’. Not just twerking by cultural appropriators like Miley Cyrus or Kim Kartrashian but the very existence of the dance.

I don’t know if this incident with Mo’ne Davis qualifies as misogynoir as Ms. Bailey defines it, and I don’t want to misuse the term before it gets proper traction in the American lexicon, we recognize it and effectively tamp down the most threatening cases of it. But I do say that there is rampant mistreatment of women in Black culture. Black women are the objects of lust, degradation and contempt, first at the hands of white men and consistently by our own. The fact is we have to recognize and refute all of it, before we end up with a sizeable representation of women in the next generation who keep offering up their bodies for use and abuse. When you ask for leniency for the demented jock who called a little girl a slut, when you blame Halle for her relationship struggles, when you say Bo Derek introduced braids to American women, when you twerk, you practice some level of disdain for Black women.

Not my child. She will be wide awake and aware, because although she is light-skinned, there is no “passing” for her. It’s not enough to protect her from these people out here trying to make things hard on her because she’s not in the white male club.



How Ya’ll Like Us Now?

“Weave, weave, we don’t care. Give them horses back their hair!”

NaturalHairFrohawkIf you came of age in the 90s and the early millennium, you remember that chant. It was Black men’s favorite rebuttal to Black women who insisted on styling their hair with weaves, and a knee-jerk response against any female hostility they might incur for marrying out, particularly to white women. Black men thought they were pulling our cards by calling out the weaving. They said the artifice was one reason why they would not consider Black women for committed long-term relationships. Their other grievances included our supposedly disproportionate:

  • rates of obesity
  • crass and loud manners
  • hostile attitudes
  • slack moral standards, e.g., the tendency to be baby mamas from various men

Sooo, I couldn’t help wondering how they like us now, after so many of us have ditched weaves and joined the natural hair movement. Not only have we waved the white flag on that issue, but we’re hoisting the natural hair banner with pride. ‘Begone with fake hair, and embrace what God gave you!’ is our mantra. Are Black men changing their minds about us? Sorry to say, that’s not the case. In my very unscientific estimation, it seems like Black men have not had a change of heart at all, and they continue to date out without consideration for how we physically present our hair. I realize that I’ve listed four other strikes against us, but I also couldn’t help notice that the rates of Black children without a father in the home have skyrocketed among Blacks. So they are happy to knock us up, but still no ring, house, or coveted wife status. I guess Black men have trouble extrapolating how their individual dating choices might have broader implications and perpetuate attitudes of colorism, racism or self hatred among us.


NaturalHair2It’s hard to tell if Black men are cutting us more slack for making this major concession about our crowning glory. I just know that wearing our hair natural and ditching the European standard of outward presentation is not impeding us from attracting men outside our race. Truth be told, today I see more Black women with dreads, TWAs, twist-outs, Bantu knots and temporary press and curls — and these are dark-skinned sisters, OK — who are side by side with Asian and white men than I did in the 1990s. (Less so among Hispanic men, but I can only suppose that Hispanic men generally prefer to date among themselves.) A lot of them are wearing wedding bands and some are not. They’re in church. At Target. On the trains. For goodness sake, New York is starting to look like London as far as this goes.

Black women are making other changes that might also shift the dynamic of their dating practices and eventual partner choices. After they became more aware of the potentially damaging and harmful ingredients in their hair styling products, they carried that over to what they were putting in their bodies. I observe Black women in my everyday life being more committed to eating right — drifting into vegetarianism and veganism, exercising and bettering themselves in various ways. I think that is throwing us into the company of broader groups of people, honestly. Maybe women in my age group are leading the way on this out of some midlife course change, but I also see it among Gen Y and the Millennials. What I do not see are vast numbers of Blacks pairing off. I’m seeing a lot of gloating and backlash from the OK Cupid data that inferred that Black women are the thirstiest and the least desirable among other races of women in its pool of users based on historic response data. The best situation analysis I’ve seen comes from Cornelius Eady, writing for The Atlantic. First, he offered a rundown of OK Cupid’s findings.

Black women write back the most. Whether it’s due to talkativeness, loneliness, or a sense of plain decency, black women are by far the most likely to respond to a first contact attempt. In many cases, their response rate is one and a half times the average, and, overall, black women reply about a quarter more often that other women.
Men don’t write black women back. Or rather, they write them back far less often than they should. Black women reply the most, yet get by far the fewest replies. Essentially every race–including other blacks–singles them out for the cold shoulder.

Then he offered this breakdown:

People passing this data around need to be really careful about using this study to draw inferences about the dating world of black women. One significant problem is that, as any black person will tell you, when black folks date online they don’t go to OKcupid. They go to blacksingles. They go to soulsingles. Or if they’re truly high post, they go to EliteNoire. (Dig the sensuous piano riffs and candelabra.)
Black people who are going to a site like OKcupid are generally black people who, with some exceptions, are open to interracial dating. But the same isn’t true of white people on OKcupid.
So the game is rigged–on OKcupid you have many white men who have no interest in dating black women, but very few black men with no interest in dating white women.
That’s because all the black men who don’t want to date white women are on the African American Dating Network or Blacksinglesconnection. There simply is no real white corollary. Stormfront excluded, there aren’t many “WhiteSingles” websites or “EliteIvory” dating sites. There is no Caucasian Dating Network, because the broader world is the Caucasian Dating Network. OKCupid is the Caucasian Dating Network.

I set the OK Cupid study aside right away when it first came out, because it seemed unsupportable in some level. There is no level playing field in the dating world, and so for various reasons Black women always seemed to be at a disadvantage. But we are beginning to make strides, based on attitude changes. And mind you, the are not adjustments in our disposition. We’re still the same women that we were in the 1990s, but with different cosmetic needs and dietary preferences. And yet, aside from one or two videos in which a lot of Black men say they prefer to see a woman’s natural hair, I don’t see Black men meeting us where we are on on our journey.



We Don’t Mean to Pry, But …

Are Lupita Nyong’o and Common dating?? Reports have them hanging out in Brooklyn, where she has an apartment. He apparently lives in Fort Greene. If they are “taking things slow” in the beginning, that would be awesome!! No pressure, though. Just take your sweet time enjoying each other’s company. We can wait for the … whatever comes down the line!