Monday, October 10, 2022

Open Season

My previous piece about Lizzo and the crystal flute had been published for all of 24 hours when I saw that a certain rapper who used to be married to a Kardashian had been talking about her on FOX News. Now, I don't watch anything on FOX News unless I am trying to compare news coverage of important events (and even then, it is only worth five minutes maximum of my sanity), thus my assumption was that the reason he had secured a primetime interview on its flagship "news" program was to explain why he wore a White Lives Matter tee shirt in his Paris Fashion Week show.

I don't care to know why Kim K's ex has such an insatiable appetite for attention, and I refuse to watch Carlson's show in its entirety to find out what prompted that particular soliloquy. My best guess is that he was asked to opine on the outrage that had been stirred up by Lizzo's crystal flute playing at the Library of Congress. And because it must be written into the agreement that if one appears in a one-on-one interview with one of these FOX show hosts, the point is to go along with whatever shit-talking they're paid to engage in to keep the culture wars aflame. KiKaYe (I'm trying out different nicknames for him) chose to use this golden opportunity to add his voice to the chorus of folks that think bullying Lizzo is some new kind of patriotism.

I found out about this latest mean girl take via a clip being circulated on Twitter. One minute was all I could stand because I suspect he had a lot more to say. But in essence, KitKat suggests that Lizzo's media persona and popularity are dependent on her weight and that the popular embrace of her body positivity is a subliminal message of toxicity. I'm guessing he missed how the sistahs dealt with Aries Spears when he tried that same line of attack against her a few weeks back. Imma say it again for the people in the cheap seats--keep trying it. She stays moisturized and unbothered.

I have already addressed some of fat-phobic misogynoir against Lizzo in previous pieces, so do me a favor and re-read those along with several others in which I have called out each instance in which folks have been building clout by bashing Black women. It has been exhausting and relentless since before I was born, but in this age of social media, it feels as if hunting Black women for sport has replaced baseball as America's pastime. We could start with the Moynihan Report, but I'll go back in recent memory for us Gen Xers when poor Black mothers were trashed as welfare queens. It took 40 years to admit that was a racist dog whistle, but nowadays no one bothers to be that subtle. 

Your boy Sneezy got on television and came for a Black woman days after he wore a White Lives Matter shirt in Paris, but y'all want to debate whether Lizzo's half naked crystal flute-playing is more problematic than his trolling. Are you effing serious?

Let's be clear, I don't need to write another piece in defense of Lizzo being Lizzo, but I do feel the need to strike back against what are clearly intentional and pervasive attacks on Black women with high visibility. Lizzo is only the latest Black woman to be picked apart on social media, along with Vice President Kamala Harris, Duchess Meghan Markle, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams, and hell, even actress Halle Bailey

Because I know someone is going to accuse me of reaching, let me hydrate and stretch...

Let's look back to just last year summer when folks were attacking Naomi Osaka for admitting that doing press interviews during her matches increased her anxiety and hampered her concentration. Folks criticized her to the point that she withdrew from competition and if you've noticed, her playing has been uneven ever since. Then it was Sha'Carri Richardson, who was disqualified from Olympic competition for having marijuana in her system. Admittedly, it wasn't a wise choice, but she's young and should be allowed to redeem herself from her own self-sabotage. And of course, THE story of those Games was how Simone Biles had to withdraw from team competition after she experienced the twisties in the middle of a vault. Folks were piling on each of these women for their perceived weakness in dealing with the very real challenges of competing on an elite level. 

I'll throw in the unresolved drama of WNBA player Brittney Griner, against whom a lot of the same apathy and insensitivity resurfaced this Spring. This woman is being held hostage by a real-life James Bond level madman, but she is no Pussy Galore or that other Britney, so...

Still think I'm reaching? Remember how Senator Foghorn Leghorn from Louisiana suggested that a 50 year-old Black, Harvard-educated lawyer, and sitting federal judge might not be able to distinguish between a law book and a J. Crew catalog? During her confirmation hearing, other Senators mischaracterized her efforts on criminal sentence reform as showing sympathy to child pornographers and pedophiles. This week a sitting Member of Congress accused this same Black woman of being a communist because she articulated an interpretation of the Constitution that was taken directly from the original language and intent of the 'framers'. 

But I suspect some of you require more proof, so we'll turn to the daily attacks aimed at the current White House Press Secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre. As the spokesperson for this Administration, the criticism of her job performance comes with the territory of partisan politics. However, the one-note refrain in the form of those attacks centers on her intellect instead of the policies she articulates. I did a Twitter search and nearly every disparaging tweet calls her stupid. That isn't the worst part since the three women who occupied the job in the previous Regime barely bothered to show up for work. Sarah Huckabee Sanders stopped giving daily press briefings before she quit and Kayleigh McEnany essentially quietly quit during the pandemic when she turned the job over to the DESPOTUS to tell his own lies. An open letter to Stephanie Grisham, who never gave a press briefing during her tenure, went essentially unanswered. But somehow the Black woman who shows up for her job is stupid?

That same tired narrative has metastasized onto Vice President Kamala Harris. That a Black woman who does her job gets derided as incompetent isn't new, but there is no basis for making those claims against Harris other than to undermine confidence in her ability to step into the top job. Kamala Harris has been a more visible team player in this Administration than Joe Biden was when he served as the Vice President to Barack Obama. She influences policy, unlike Mike Pence the delusional fall guy/whipping boy who still contends that Donald Trump didn't send a mob to kill him on January 6, 2021. Yet folks get on Al Gore's internet daily and call her a disaster.

And if it wasn't enough to have to work twice as hard to be regarded as minimally capable by white people, then imagine how that same standard works in the Black community. Again, this week while K-Y Jelly was on FOX dissing Lizzo, rapper Killer Mike and a few verified angry Black men were taking swipes at Stacy Abrams. Because Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp took the time to sit down and exploit their sexism as an opportunity to bash his opponent, he's perceived as more concerned about putting forth an agenda that benefits Black men? The same Brian Kemp who closed down a Level 1 trauma hospital in Atlanta, purged 200,000 voters from the rolls, and signed a law that outlawed giving water to your grandmother while she waits in line to vote. 

You demand specifics from Stacy Abrams despite the fact that she facilitated the election of Senators Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossof in 2021. She organized and mobilized the Black community beyond Atlanta to vote by shouting from the rooftops to anyone who would listen that Black Voters Matter. She invested in cultivating those votes in order to beat back suppression and historic voter apathy. The fact that Warnock in particular can boast about the work he's doing in the Senate for Georgia is thanks to her and an army of Black women like Latosha Brown, Nse Ufot, and Helen Butler

When that Georgia Senate seat became available and the Democratic Party establishment urged Abrams to run for it, she opted to pass the baton to (checks notes) her Morehouse Brother, A BLACK MAN!!! I don't even recall that Warnock had expressed public political ambitions at that point, but like a lot of Morehouse Men, it wouldn't surprise me if he had. And I mean this in the most complimentary way, because she could have pulled a Beto O'Rourke move and just kept running for office until she won something; instead, she focused the job she wanted and stayed on task. When did ambition and focus become liabilities in politics?

I am not mincing words here: If you are standing on the sidelines critiquing Black women over petty nonsense like twerking and paying for dinner then you are not in the fight with us. And that makes you part of the problem. None of us has time to hold down full-time jobs; raise children and care for our elders; stay involved in our churches and community organizations; show up and vote to save this democracy; AND fix plates for a bunch of man-babies who want to play the role of Alpha Male on social media. Do you even read or replay that foolishness before you post it, because (speaking for myself) what kind of grown-ass man won't cut up the meat on his plate and is proud of that because having a woman treat him like a child is some perverse display of dominance!

That went way off topic, so let me bring this back to where I began, which was a rant in response to Troll the Rapper's appearance on FOX talking shit about Lizzo instead of being called out for his attention-seeking childishness. Now that he's dabbled in anti-Semitism, I don't need to say another word about his fuckery. So let me address Killer Mike and the barbershop hoteps about how disappointing it is to see them aligned against Stacy Abrams. Of course, it is their choice to support and vote for whomever they feel will best serve their communities and that doesn't have to be the person whom I would support or prefer.

However, my frustration with the grand declarations by these 21st Century wannabe Race Men is that their claim of being independent thinkers is hollow when they align with the very system of oppression that keeps our communities disempowered. Basically, your grand answer is if we can't beat them, join them, which is a surefire way to improve your personal situation but not make much progress for the rest of us. Killer Mike is an artist, which I respect, so I get that he doesn't see it as his job to be leading protests and causes. Yet, the minute he strapped on a mic and started offering opinions about policy, then he made the team, so what we need is for him to be a team player. We cannot win if we keep fumbling the ball. And trust that the woman who built an entire political movement from the ground up does NOT need to be advised to follow after some white man on the campaign trail and offer to clean up his mess!

What she and these other Black women need instead of you sitting on Bill Maher's show in awkward silence while he and some Karen whine about not liking them, is that you speak up and denounce that booshay with your entire chest the way you would if they were talking about your Mama. Because what they overlook but you know is that we are still here in the fight thanks to the tirelessness of Black grandmothers and aunties who kept our communities cohesive in the face of policies that were designed to disrupt and cause instability. You think Black men being over-represented in prison began with then-Sen. Joe Biden's crime bill in the 1990s? 

(And because I cannot let this point be missed, a Black man served as the U.S. Attorney General for six years under the Black President. But it was the "off-putting" Black woman who, as California's Attorney General de-emphasized prosecution of low-level marijuana possession cases. As Senator, she co-sponsored legislation to legalize marijuana, and as Vice President, she's promoting the policy that will pardon thousands in the federal prison system for possession. Now, if you don't want to give Biden or Harris credit for evolving on this issue, fine. But I assure you that Brian Kemp won't be issuing pardons in gratitude for your support.)

That's all...because I'm veering into Black preacher territory with each new paragraph, and I need to let you marinate on all of this as you make your plans for November. Stand up for Black women by voting for us and with us.

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