Critical Discussions About Anti-Oppression Praxis Aren’t For “Entertainment”
I’ve had several instances on Twitter where I’ve been in the middle of a critical discussion or even just stream of consciousness regarding deconstructing or fighting racism, sexism, misogyny, misogynoir, homophobia, transphobia etc., and have had Black men tweet me to tell me that they are “entertained.”
While their “intent” may not be to be disrespectful, that’s how I feel: disrespected. Outcomes carry more weight than intentions; this is something that everyone must learn, actually.
It’s as if they process any complicated conversation as "anger" and said anger must make me a "Sapphire" on stage (actually how many Whites process anything I write or tweet). It doesn’t matter if the anger is warranted or not even present. It doesn’t matter if the conversation is complex or nuanced. All that matters is anything other than an “LOL” from a Black woman is viewed as being an angry “Sapphire.” (And even the LOL is judged too; who am I to be “happy” or laughing?)
What interests me is that they say this almost as if they’re disconnected from the experience of oppression itself, as if they’re just watching a “show” that has no impact on their lives. Some have reacted this way even when I’m discussing issues critical to Black men’s experiences in America. The cognitive dissonance that allows them to view critical discussions and critical reflection as “just” tweets or a “show” that exists just as a performance for them is sad to me.
Another thing that happens is when I’m having a conversation with Black women online, some Black men don’t enter to add value to the conversation; they enter to “approve” the conversation with “compliments,” as if their input is what validates our perspectives. Male privilege much? (This reaction is notably less common than the typical ones; insults or mansplaining.)
I wonder if the intersectional feminist Black men that I follow on Twitter (who of course don’t do this) experience this from other Black men, or if it is what I suspect, an intraracial, gendered reaction? Or does both occur, but for different reasons…
It doesn’t mean that such conversations can’t be a good or important experience; or that critical reflection isn’t positive in many ways. it just means that people discussing the challenges of oppression aren’t putting on a performance.