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May 2013

A Black Man Asked “Whose ‘Side’ Are Black Women On?”

While I was perusing tags related to feminism on Tumblr, I came across a post by a Black man with a sentiment that I’ve seen many times. He posted a photograph of a Black man’s lynched corpse with a White woman looking at it with laughter. His commentary suggested that “feminazism” is destroying Black men (as its goal) and whose side are most Black women on, Black men’s or White women’s?

First of all, the fact that a Black man would conflate feminism with Nazism, when both Black men and Black women faced multiple holocausts during slavery is astoundingly ahistorical and hyperbolic. The word "Feminazi" rose to popularity via Rush Limbaugh. Funny how this “conscious” Black man quickly aligns with White patriarchy, and a racist at that, when the critique is of Black women.

Secondly, interestingly enough, he chose a lynching photo with no White men present. Why? Because his perception of Black men as victims can’t include critique of White men if assuming the patriarchal power that Black men (and White women) want to share with White men, versus questioning oppression itself, is an ultimate goal. Black men who heavily critique feminism and demand dog-like loyalty to patriarchy from Black women tend to want to mimic or share the power White men have. This means that they will never truly critique White supremacy itself, beyond what power they critique White women for (and some won’t even do this due to sexual interest in White women), because why critique the type of corrupt power that one desires? (I critiqued this very same line of thinking before, which fuels many Black men’s love for the film Django Unchained.)

White fear of Black male sexuality and economic, political and social competition is what fueled lynching as a practice. Even if the charge against a Black man was due to a White woman’s claim (and these same women watched and enjoyed lynching as an entertainment of “strange fruit”) ultimately White men had to physically engage in the practice of lynching. Thus, for him to choose a photo where no White men are present is quite telling. Oh and…Black women were lynched too.

Thirdly, some Black men just as some White women tend to view Black women solely as “sidekicks” to “their” causes, not women and humans with our own causes and needs, ones most definitely shaped by intersectional experiences. We aren’t only Black. We aren’t only women. He didn’t include any images/stories about Black men street harassing, committing domestic violence, raping or murdering Black women. He chose to show Black men only as victims and posits that Black women are responsible for Black men’s victimhood. This is fascinating since Black women, from Billie Holiday to Ida B. Wells were some of the most outspoken against lynching of Black men. Today, Black women like Michelle Alexander are incredibly outspoken against how Prison Industrial Complex impacts Black men. Black women are often deemed not to be supportive enough and ahistorical, decontextualized “evidence” is always proffered by Black men as proof. (Some even have the audacity to cite that racist and misogynoirist Moynhian Report from ‘65. Disgusting. Read Patricia Hill Collins’ critique of that report in Black Feminist Thought.) Amazingly enough, not interpersonally obeying patriarchal orders from Black men and in their perception, not being committed “enough” to being sidekicks of “their” causes versus full human beings and voices for our own and collective Black causes is viewed by some Black men as “aligning” with White women.

I can only laugh at this. They obviously have not heard any actual discourse and dissent between Black and White women, feminist or not. Black womanists/feminists and White feminists have not walked this magical path of unity that Black men seem to think we have, especially one based on destroying Black men. Black men who think so know nothing about women’s actual lives, I suspect.

The idea that Black women are just “copying” White women in terms of womanist/feminist theory and praxis proves again that some Black men know nothing about Black women beyond what they would like us to be, stereotypes and externally constructed notions of Black womanhood. (Once, one of my sisters responded to an extremely disgusting drawing posted on Facebook; it had the same sentiments of Black women being monsters out to get Black men and controlled by Whites.) If being a whole human being as a Black woman, not a sidekick of “team Black men” (or “team White women”) is viewed as a “threat” to Black masculinity, then Black men need to examine why our dehumanization is needed for them to feel like men. Will they ever be able to visualize and embrace masculinity without domination? At which point will they actually critique White men and White supremacy itself for the issues that they think dog-like loyalty from Black women is magically going to fix?

I am not on a “team” in that feminism is a gimmick; I am not going to choose between race and gender for sport. I am TIRED of Black men (and White women) suggesting this. At the same time, I am committed to the liberation of all oppressed people, which INCLUDES me and other Black women, as people, not platforms for Black men to stand on. Intersectionality or bust. I will not be anyone’s doormat, especially for wiping ahistorical boots with soles made of patriarchy, sexism and misogynoir.

"It was painful to realize that many men rarely consider reading what women write, or bother to listen to what women are saying about how we feel. How we perceive life. How we think things should be. That they cannot honor our struggles or our pain. That they see our stories as meaningless to them, or assume they are absent from them, or distorted. Or think they must own or control our expressions. And us." - Alice Walker

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