Friday, March 31, 2023

Fake Feminism

I was called a fake feminist because I don't have an issue with a transwoman becoming a model for Kate Spade. This happened on the Book of Faces, where I had posted my musings about the ridiculousness of being offended about some influencer/TikTok model when we have much bigger issues. I mean, the world is on fire, but let's focus our righteous indignation on who should wear a pink poofy dress. However, before I get started, let us send up a round of applause for that commentor who thought she was insulting me:

Welcome to the Busy Black Woman's new feature, The Library. 

Interestingly enough, I had been planning to address this issue long before this exchange. I have been concerned about the growing tension with our mothers and grandmothers from the second-wave of feminism who aren't quite sure of how to welcome transwomen into our midst. After all, when they were burning bras and denouncing the patriarchy in the 60s and 70s, the closet doors had only opened a crack with the Stonewall uprising.

Sixty years after Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, here we are, on the last day of Women's History Month (also Transgender Day of Visibility*), in the year of our Lord 2023, worried about who gets to be called a woman. Well, transwomen are women. Period. 

I understand why that might be a concern for the patrons in a Kate Spade boutique, but as for me and my space, I said what I said. Maybe this would bother me if I were on the hunt for a pink poofy dress to wear on Easter Sunday, but I'm not. My Kid's birthday is on Easter Sunday this year and I'm trying to decide if we can spare a few eggs to dye given these high prices. And pink is not my color...

Therefore, I find it rather curious that we are now defining feminism in such a narrow-minded way since I was taught that the central point of the movement was to upend the notion that biology determines our choices and destiny. Originally, we wanted girls to grow up to believe that they could be anything because they are more than the functioning of their reproductive organs. So how am I a fake feminist because I believe in choice, not just for women but also for men? And because I regard that right to choose as inclusive of one's gender identity? How sway...

All of us come to some pivotal moment in our lives when we get to decide who and what we are. Perhaps it was in elementary school at a career day assembly or maybe one day on some dead-end job when you decided that you had enough. Maybe one day you looked at yourself in the mirror and decided that you would dye your hair, pierce your tongue, or get a tattoo. Or maybe you would try on your mother's discarded makeup and realized how your eye color popped with the right shadow. After a particularly brutal encounter with a bunch of playground bullies, imagine feeling so worthless that you locked yourself in the bathroom with thoughts of suicide until you heard the lyrics to a song that reassured you that it would get better. 

Because my definition of feminism allows space for women who were born male, but who choose to live as women, I don't understand how that makes me fake. In this same society where women spend millions on artificial enhancements such as cosmetics, breast implants, and Brazilian Butt Lifts (BBLs), a transwoman who has had gender reassignment surgery is still just a man playing dress up? Does Caitlyn Jenner know that?

In this same country where the rights I was born with regarding my reproductive choices have been all but eliminated for my daughter, I ought to be mad about the outfits worn by an influencer on TikTok. I must say, after three years of pandemic, it finally feels good to shift my attention from the virus to more pressing life or death issues. I shouldn't worry my pretty little head about book bans, gun violence in schools, or whether hungry children receive free lunch, because it is far more important to keep drag queens from reading books to children at story time.

Should I leave it to the real men, born male, to decide if and when girls need access to menstruation products in school too?

Which brings me to the concerns of these older feminists who are worried that the inclusion of transwomen de-centers attention from women's overall struggle for equality. In my mind, it doesn't. Yes, it changes our language and how we frame certain issues. I have to get used to the concept of cis-gender as a way of distinguishing different kinds of women's issues. But it is a trick of the devil to convince us that discrimination against women is somehow more likely if we advocate for transwoman as well. Are we seriously going to act like the first wavers who didn't want to include women of color in the fight for suffrage? 

If so, then we're just a bunch mean girls who feel entitled to bully transwomen because we can ignore their unique plight. Since we never had the option of giving up the rights and privileges of patriarchy, we can express our resentment by denying transwomen seats at our lunch table. Just like the Plastics in high school, we can brand them as freaks and try to drive them away from any place they might find refuge. On Wednesdays we wear pink...

Take this sudden push for equity in girls' sports. Do you honestly believe this battle is being fought by a bunch of concerned girl dads who coach soccer or softball? You can't even watch the Women's NCAA Basketball championship games without cable, but the most pressing challenge is whether transwomen have unfair physiological advantages. Admittedly, that is a complex issue but if we've figured out how to make all kinds of other opportunities that were once only available to men accessible to women, we can figure this one out too.

Since this all started over a Kate Spade advertisement, let's offer an illustration of fake feminism by taking a trip to the nearest mall. Oh wait, there isn't a Kate Spade store at my local mall because it doesn't serve their core demographic. Instead, I can either travel downtown or out to the suburbs to get a look at the spring collection. Hmm, as I walk through the door, there is a $500 shaggy dog purse that greets me, and I think, how cute, maybe I can carry my car keys, lip gloss, and a few credit cards in it when I wear it to brunch on Easter Sunday. And oh look, here is the infamous pink dress with the poofy sleeves for $400, and a pair of white sandals for $260, so look a whole outfit for under $1200!

A feminist is more concerned that the salesperson receives a decent commission or that they earn enough to afford health coverage or that this job offers Family and Medical Leave. Instead of shaking my fists and expressing my outrage on social media that the model prancing around in a TikTok video used to be a man, I care that this young woman feels accepted for who she is and uses her platform to support others who need reassurance to find their truth. In my eyes, that makes her a more authentic woman than anyone who denounces her as a lady boy.

Finally, let me close this Library session by weeding out a few authors from the shelves, namely J.K. Rowling and Alice Walker. It pains me to admit that their divisiveness has become a distraction from the real shit that weighs us down. Because women shouldn't waste time on silly disagreements that benefit the patriarchy, so while we are arguing over who can call themselves women, the tyrants are running amok. From the Taliban banning women and girls from obtaining education; to Iranian protests; to legislation in states across this country that seek to restrict LGBTQIA+ rights. Transwomen aren't protected from harm because they used to be men. Oppression is everywhere. None of us can fight it on every front, but we can be allies and do no harm. 

To that end, I can admit that I am still learning and evolving, so I expect to be wrong about certain things, and I am willing to accept correction and be educated. I can tell you that I cringe at some of my past behaviors and opinions when it came to acknowledging the personhood and humanity in others, so I am not speaking from some self-righteous perch of having known the truth all along. As a card-carrying women's college alumna of almost 30 years, my identification as a feminist ain't some designer label I just adopted so that I could win arguments with strangers on Al Gore's internet.

You can take your selections to the check out desk and have a nice life. The Library is now closed.

* After working on this for most of the day, I found out that today is Transgender Day of Visibility, so I accept that as a sign that I am evolving in the right direction.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Angela Bassett: The Queen of Our Hearts

I waited a couple of days (and some change) to comment on this matter because understandably, folks have mixed feelings. We all want to believe that opportunities are apportioned accordingly, and that credit is given when and where it is due. We all want to believe that the sun is bright enough to shine on all of us. Therefore, I am not upset that Angela Bassett lost the Best Supporting Actress Oscar this year.

I said what I said.

I saw Wakanda Forever (2022) opening weekend. I have a piece in draft that I have been working on since last November that expresses some of how I felt about that movie and her stellar performance. It was great and worthy of the nomination.

I have not seen Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022) all the way through yet (keep missing the first hour), so I can't say if Jamie Lee Curtis was deserving of the hardware; therefore, I also cannot argue that her co-star Stephanie Hsu was more deserving. Instead, I can suggest that this was obviously a sentimental nod to Curtis, who has reached a certain stage in her career, thus very on-brand for Hollywood to honor her in this way. (But I know nobody really wants to hear that right now.)

However, and I hope that this can be an agreeable consolation, I fully expect that Bassett will get her Oscar. Not as a supporting actress mind you, but in the category that is most befitting of our Supreme Sister Auntie Queen. And on that glorious evening, my hope is that we will all look back on this current snub and humph in satisfaction that her triumph happened in due time and course, and not as some kind of consolation prize in response to an #OscarsSoWhite trending hashtag.

This year of our Lord 2023, the Oscar blessings went to badass Michelle Yeoh. And to the inspirational Ke Huy Quan. And to Brendan Fraser for wearing a fat suit. And yes, even to the Dean of the Scream Queens, Jamie Lee Curtis.

There may be reasons to believe that these were not the best choices, but those are debates for the critics and among the Academy members who saw each nominated performance. As we recently learned, we can't even guarantee that most of those voters actually saw all of the films. As to Jamie Lee Curtis, I say we dispense with the grumblings because this has to be the high-water mark of her career at this point. Yes, she's a veteran actress with famous parents and a considerable list of IMDb credits, but unlike some of her peers who have been nominated multiple times like Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Frances McDormand, or Dame Judi Dench, the likelihood that Curtis will ever grace that stage to claim another statue is low. This is just one of those lucky flukes. 

No offense, but for someone who just released another Halloween movie in 2021, what else is there for her at this point, other than to portray someone eccentric and weird? Here you have a working actress who's been around for long enough not to be too jaded or too impressed by what she does for a living. If she even had to audition for this part, it would shock me, but for the sake of argument, let's assume she went in to read and when the casting director called her agent, their discussion went something like this: 
Casting director: You know what would be a hoot?
Agent: What? Jamie Lee trying her hand at martial arts? 
Casting director: Yes, but what if we had her look like a crazy cat lesbian who could perform martial arts?
Agent: Can we do that? And what if we put her in a bad wig and give her floppy hot dog fingers too?
Casting director: Sure, why not? Who will even notice?

And Curtis loved the idea because who would have noticed her as a supporting character in a quirky film like EEAAO for a sporadic 10-15 minutes worth of screen time? There is no way she expected any of this attention until the nomination came and suddenly the momentum behind the film took her like a wave. 

Furthermore, that is the entire point of honoring a Best Supporting Actor. S/he isn't the star--s/he's some random scene stealer who had an interesting/pivotal line or transitional moment. Either s/he died, killed, saved, or taunted the hero/ine: Louis Gossett, Jr. mocking Richard Gere as "Mayo-naise" while he slithers through the mud during basic training or a half-naked Anne Hathaway coiffed in a buzzcut and dying of tuberculosis. Everybody honored in that category enjoys their moment in the spotlight, then they disappear quietly to try their hand at something else like bee farming or Broadway.

That is not the career trajectory we should want for Angela Bassett. Quite honestly, it still doesn't sit well with me that Viola Davis got talked into submitting her name for that supporting category in 2017 because now it will take her another 20 years to ever get nominated again. We could have a whole debate over the value of an Oscar nomination as opposed to a win, and then more discussion about how it doesn't even benefit women as much as men in the grand scheme of things. We could engage in all manner of debate over the meaning of an Oscar versus the quality of roles in an actor's career. We could write these long think pieces about the snubs and slights and slaps, or...

We could write screenplays. We could write songs. We could compose music scores. We could design exquisite costumes and sets. We could be directors and producers. We could advocate for more opportunities for jobs in the industry. We could take notice of the fact that most of the people who win multiple Oscars are the folks who put in the work behind the scenes.

That isn't to say that our complaints that the #OscarsSoWhite weren't valid or that the improvements only lasted for a few award cycles. By drawing attention to the Academy's lack of diversity, changes did come. It came with everything, everywhere (all at once) from who got nominated to the kinds of projects that were greenlit. A Black woman was elected President of the Academy and we finally got a Black superhero movie with a Black director from the Blackest city on the West Coast. All of that set the stage for Ruth Carter to win two Oscars (and I bet no one even realized that she's been designing costumes since the 80s). Calling out Hollywood's highfalutin snooty predilections for English period dramas and biased historical fiction got them to broaden the categories to consider a wider range of films. 

This is why I say we shouldn't sweat this. We can't adopt the same mindset that excluded us by suggesting that a win for one person or community is a loss of opportunity for another marginalized community because it isn't. No, an Oscar isn't a participation trophy, but neither is an Olympic Gold medal or a Superbowl ring. Everybody isn't going to get one but it's a good thing when more people are allowed to compete on that level. And in that sense, everybody does win. For too long, that wasn't the case, not just for Black people but for every excluded group in Hollywood. There is a world of talent--a whole world, and we've barely scratched the surface.

A few months ago, I spent a Saturday afternoon watching Turner Classic Movies, and I got to see the musical Flower Drum Song (1961) with Miyoshi Umeki, the first East Asian American actress to win an Academy Award (Best Supporting Actress for Sayonara in 1958). By my math that was 65 years ago, and I had never heard of her despite the historic nature of that career accomplishment. It took decades to get to The Joy Luck Club (1993) amid the incremental progress of individual Asian actors. And then it still took years to get films like Mulan (1998), Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000), and Crazy Rich Asians (2018), so if Black people are complaining that #OscarsSoWhite...and Mickey Rooney's cameo in Breakfast at Tiffany's occurred three years after Umeki's win, then I don't think we're done complaining about the lack of diversity in Hollywood.

Not when we just find out that the first Asian actress to receive an Oscar nomination in 1936, Merle Oberon, was passing for white so there is a disclaimer to the description of Michelle Yeoh's historic nomination. Not when we just learned that there are other regions in India (Telugu) that produce energetic musicals other than Bollywood. Not when women are still overlooked as directors in spite of turning in excellent work.

Which brings me to the inevitable backlash from the disgruntled old Hollywood guard. We start with that anonymous Cowardly Lion quoted throughout this article, the critically acclaimed Actor. I wasted a lot of time thinking about who this person might be and how best to express my disdain for him in the most unflattering way possible. I settled on a caricature--some former teen heartthrob, pretentious Tesla-driving, recurring CSI guest, nepo baby. In other words, another limousine liberal who claims to be vegan but only because he chews his steak and then spits it out (I'm pretty sure the interviewee is not Sam Seder, but you have to admit this clip perfectly illustrates the jab). Whomever he is, I hope karma comes in the form of his being fired by Gina Prince-Bythewood "the lady director" on some really prestigious project because he failed to "sit [TF] down, shut up, and relax" as told, so he's replaced by Cate Blanchett, who then goes on to win her third Oscar. As for Paul Schrader, that sleepy old fart...

Finally, I have a few words for all of these body language experts on social media who seem to know what was going on in Angela Bassett's head when her name wasn't called for that Oscar. WTF? Are y'all just determined to make Black women the villain in everybody's origin story? She looked surprised and disappointed. Perhaps she assumed that if she was going to lose, it would have been to Stephanie Hsu or Kerry Condon. If you look at the pictures of her husband, Courtney B. Vance in the same moment, he's the one who's mad. He was hoping that an Oscar win would mean the kind of salary bump per project that would allow them to put their twins through college.

Instead, folks and I mean snarky assholes like Piers Morgan in particular, want to sell this narrative that Bassett should have appeared more gracious, as if others haven't had similar reactions to losing in the past. I vividly remember how the late Lauren Bacall looked absolutely pissed in 1997, and apparently that was not my imagination because she's included on this entire list of other disgruntled nominees. A really shitty and sore loser reaction would have been to storm off and leave like Morgan did here...but whatever snowflake.

Dear Beloved Angela, you already know that I'm not here to urge you to take comfort in just being nominated because we're past that at this stage of your career. You did the thing, which was to carry the whole weight of that movie on your majestic shoulders in the wake of the incalculable loss of its fallen star. Notwithstanding the fact that some people couldn't appreciate that kind of fortitude, it remains my contention that your performance was too good for the Oscar in that category. And that isn't shade to the past winners, it is just stating facts. This was hardly your defining career moment.

So on your behalf, I have already declared and decreed that this won't be the last time you'll be nominated; if anything, this will be the last time anyone can make the claim that you aren't worthy of an Oscar. You've proven that time and again since 1992 when you were first nominated for portraying Tina Turner. This entire controversy is a distraction meant to rationalize why the Academy has been dragging its feet in acknowledging you and how they messed up the televised In Memoriam segment again. 

That's all I have to say. I'm pretty sure that Courtney, your kids, Austin Butler, and everyone else has bestowed you with flowers and all manner of consolation. Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors already let the Academy know they messed up when they took to the stage. And in spite of these hit pieces written by the publicists of some other disgruntled actresses, we are confident that you remain unbothered and thoroughly unfazed. You and Jamie Lee Curtis will be photographed getting drinks and this will blow over. You know who you are, and so do we.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Not In Front of White People

By that title, you might already have an idea where this piece is headed. Every Black person raised in the United States (possibly elsewhere throughout the diaspora), has been admonished that there are certain behaviors that are intolerable in public. Kids are warned not to go inside this store and do anything embarrassing, like steal something stupid (and get caught) or have some kind of meltdown requiring the Wrath of Mama and Her Shoe to be unleashed. Teenagers are told to act like they have some kind of sense in mixed company. Grown adults are reminded to check certain attitudes and to fine-tune their code-switching skills, especially at work and even more importantly at networking functions where a good impression might result in a job, a promotion, or some much needed philanthropic generosity to a worthy cause. I could offer quite a few more examples, but by now you all get the point that one of several "talks" Black people have been subjected to over the years has been to act accordingly in front of white people, lest one inadvertent slip-up results in the eradication of every inch of progress made since 1865.

That was a very long-winded introduction to the idea that all of us have been raised with that unmistakable nod towards the politics of respectability, and that at some point in our lives, someone has lectured us on our responsibility to represent ourselves, our families (and indeed, the entire race) with a certain kind of dignity. Let me get straight to the point and say yes, I got this title from watching the final punchline from the Chris Rock live comedy special on Netflix. No, I have not watched the entire special nor do I intend to. No, this will not be another long think piece about The Slap (not entirely). Yes, I have opinions on the matter, but I have already shared those so I will refer you what I have already written. Because in my opinion, this entire mess is a case study in the futility of respectability politics. And yes, I said what I said, even after a most tumultuous and disgraceful Black History Month, but this time it wasn't Black folks' fault, not in the least.

From the various snippets that I have seen, Chris Rock performed for a live audience in Baltimore this past weekend and finally took time to address The Slap. A lot of folks have already weighed in with their reviews of the special, and since I don't plan to watch it, there isn't much reason for me to opine on the substance of that which I have not seen. As for what I did see in snippets and soundbites, I can say that Rock kind of kept his word in keeping Jada Pinkett Smith's name out of his mouth; instead, he opted to refer to her as THAT BITCH. 

A year later, it is obvious that there is still a lot of bitterness and anger directed at her over hands that she didn't throw, so I'm reposting this picture as a reminder of what happened and who did what. For the record, I don't see Jada Pinkett Smith anywhere in that frame.

Yet, because Rock claims that he was taught not to fight in front of white people, he waits a whole year to unleash a metaphorical beatdown on a woman in front of an audience of Black people in her hometown. Bravo Pookie. Or should I say, good job Bony T...

The utter contradiction of respectability politics is how it condemns one set of objectionable behaviors while excusing others. Last year, Will Smith was castigated for what he did, and rightfully so. But I swear most of the Black people who were so outspoken then and now seem to have been more upset that it happened on stage at the Oscars instead of at the Source Awards. Because fighting at the office party is different than fighting at the BBQ?

Of course it is, and for all intents and purposes, the Oscars ceremony is a work function for every attendee. Folks just can't roll up to the venue because they have nothing better to do on a Sunday night for seven hours and they want to play dress up--you have to be there because of a nomination or because you were invited to perform or present. Anyone who pays attention to the Entertainment Award Season, knows that this is the Grande Finale, the Superbowl, Game 7 of the NBA Championships or World Series, the Gold Medal Match. Because it is a live telecast, every moment is a scripted performance which is why most of us thought that The Slap was just another corny bit until we found out otherwise.

Anybody who has worked in an office has that one coworker...the one who always burns popcorn in the microwave or who uses all of the paper in the copier but doesn't refill the tray. But you tolerate that person because they get along with the managers and you don't really work together in the same department. For the most part, you mostly encounter each other in the bathroom, the breakroom, or at official functions. At the most recent annual company retreat, you end up in a conversation with this person and you find out that your views on certain topics don't align, so you politely excuse yourself from the conversation to get a drink. But instead of taking the hint, the person follows you to the bar to continue to argue a point that you don't believe is appropriate in that setting. So you diplomatically say, hey let's agree to disagree, but the person keeps talking. Then you say, hmm I don't see things in the same light, so why don't we just change the subject, but the person has now enlisted another coworker to weigh in and you're standing there getting more and more annoyed. One final time, you say, look I'm going to the bathroom, talk to you later, and you turn around to walk away. To which this person says something offensive that stops you in your tracks.

At the office party, you are supposed to take a breath, count to ten, and then keep walking to the bathroom. You might file a complaint with HR, or just keep your distance. At the BBQ, you are likely to turn around, walk back, and exchange words. And we all know what choice Will Smith made, so perhaps we should explore how and why.

Last year, I wrote about how the Oscars were produced by Will Packer and how several of the changes he made to the ceremony might have been too much for some of the folks who are used to the standard four-hour format. He definitely added some flourishes that leaned more towards the NAACP Image Awards instead of the BAFTAs (and yes, Ariana DeBose, you did the thing, those stodgy coots just weren't ready). So it is possible that at this office party, planned by the Black people in marketing to be a different flavor than what Hollywood is used to, folks forgot where they were. 

That still doesn't justify what happened, so I reiterate that Will Smith was wrong. But not only because he slapped Chris Rock in front of the white people at work--he slapped Rock knowing that there wouldn't be any immediate repercussions. Whether it was a reaction to a bad joke or if he had just taken enough ribbing from Rock over the years and snapped is debatable, but like I said last year, they could have handled that in the alley behind Roscoe's. Everybody knew Smith was going to win the Best Actor Oscar, so all he had to do was sit there and wait for his golden moment. It isn't like he's some amateur who could blame adrenaline for sending him across that stage too soon, like a sprinter who takes off before the starter pistol. He's a professional, so hitting his mark (literally) is what Smith does for a living. 

And don't waste your outrage on behalf of Chris Rock because he is also a professional--a smug, shit-talking dude who wrote a whole TV show about his daily blooper reel of embarrassments in front of the white people he grew up with. So I call bullshit on his mic drop moment because if he's claiming that he was taught not to have certain arguments or fights in mixed company, he sure did pick a fine time to finally listen to his parents. Remember when his signature riff was differentiating Black people from n**gas for his largely white audiences? I do. Did you see Good Hair (2009) and initially think that he was trying to illuminate an issue for Black women (before realizing that it was just a mockumentary-style joke told at our expense)? I did.

(Quick true story: I saw Chris Rock when I was in law school and he was still touring and performing stand up college campuses. The entire BLSA membership had decided to go to the show along with the other Black graduate students and undergrads, so we took up the entire front half of the theater. Rock told several of the jokes that eventually made him super famous, such as the OJ "I understand" bit and platonic friendships with women. He told a joke about the ending of M*A*S*H and until that point, we had been unaware that the entire audience behind us was full of white people [because they got the joke and we didn't], so he made fun of us for thinking we were at a BET Comic View show.)

It doesn't matter which side you choose, since neither #TeamChris or #TeamWill is blameless nor are they suffering in shame. The entire PR department of The Fresh Prince Enterprises earned double their salary last year for handling the fallout from The Slap. That man is an ex-communicated A-lister, practically radioactive...who just won an NAACP Image Award! Chris Rock went on tour just days after The Slap and has been performing in front of sold-out audiences all over the country for a year. He earned $40 million for one night of work. I'm guessing that cold hard compress of cash he uses to soothe his cheek after each show must feel right nice. 

But you know who is still reeling from The Slap? The woman who didn't act a fool in front of the white people.

I've had my say about the way the world turned Jada into a modern-day Eve in blaming her for how both of these two grown ass men cut up a year ago on live television, and my opinion remains unchanged. If anyone's career suffered collateral damage in all of this mess, it was hers. This past year for her must have been a lot like being accused of writing a bad check or having your credit card declined while at the checkout at the grocery store with a cart full of fried chicken and watermelon. In the old days, they used to post a Polaroid picture by the cash register to shame the person from ever returning to the store. Other than Girls Trip 2, what new projects are clogging her inbox? Do you see her walking the red carpet or attending the Oscars ever again?

Notice how I can talk about The Slap without conflating it to any of the tabloid noise about the Smiths' marriage or resorting to dehumanizing name-calling. Y'all care so much about what goes on in other people's bedrooms, with all kinds of big opinions about how married folks ought to live. Self-righteous Christian condemnation heaped on Jada for her entanglement, but y'all lined up to hear Chris Rock confess to cheating on his wife, and then turn around to call every woman who's rejected or slept with him a bitch. For his part, Will Smith has never acknowledged any of his rumored dalliances, but let's talk about the production that went into this apology video.

Because THAT BITCH Jada...

Who is also a mother. A daughter. A woman with flaws. A woman who was likely hurt at points in her marriage, and someone offered her comfort that her husband didn't provide. A woman with a past and some rough edges from Baltimore. A woman who married a man with his own past and a bunch of issues. In front of white people, this Black woman has been called everything but a child of God and I'm supposed to find the humor and take a joke. At the expense of her dignity. 

I knew writing this would make me angry, so I am taking breaths and breaks, because I don't think people appreciate the irreparable harm caused by keeping up appearances or upholding respectability. For the benefit of whom? For what? To say it loud and proud that it matters more what white people think than how a Black woman might feel about what has been said about her to her face?

For all of the feigned concern that was expressed about the negative impact The Slap might have on Black Hollywood, things are no better or worse as a result. Yes, there were some great films and performances that were overlooked and possibly snubbed, but that happens every year. And clearly this year the momentum is behind Michelle Yeoh and her film, so we're not going to complain if she earns that hardware this year and makes history as the first Asian Best Actress. Given Hollywood's history of racism from blackface, colorism, to Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), it's the white people who ought to be ashamed. 

That last sentence was supposed to be my mic drop, but nah, I have a few more words for Willard, Christopher, and every other Black person who thinks that the opinions of white people ought to matter more than the example you set for your own families. For all of the tap dancing, running gags, the laughs, the buffoonery--these same white folks y'all been entertaining all of these years chose sides with a quickness. Nobody died, but you wouldn't know it from the way people claimed to have been so ashamed. Meanwhile, I feel let down that we've allowed The Slap to define what is considered acceptable behavior, not only front of white people, but on behalf of our families and communities. At the end of the day, both of you are still expendable and with the flip of a coin, Randolph and Mortimer Duke can determine the fate of their next Billy Ray Valentine.

For the right amount of money, some of y'all would put your wife, your daughter, even your mother in front of someone's open hand to take a hit. And that really hurts.