As much as I love social media, and live to see a good dragging, I can’t help but to notice that Black women always seem to be on the receiving end of, well, bullshit. Memes and comment sections that bully Black women, for the simple fact that we exist, pollute my, and others’ timelines alike, are often filled with unjustified, and subconscious, hatred towards us. While, Black women have the nastiest clapbacks of all eternity that will have you re-evaluating your whole existence it’s nothing short of mentally draining to experience so frequently. Constantly being in defense due to unwarranted attacks and trolling is exhausting. And at times, I legit need days in which I completely unplug from social media and the world for the sake of my peace and sanity. I’m certain other Black women can attest to that.
Despite this blatant daily disrespect, which manifests in a plethora of ways, being a Black girl is lit af! Well, unless you’re an actual Black girl. Sounds contradicting right? Here’s what I mean: Black girls are constant innovators. Cornrows (not “Boxer braids”), Marley Twists and locs are poppin’ now, we did that. A Black woman gave the world its new favorite adjective, “fleek,” and even the extra ass way we love to wear our nails is popular now. So this makes me wonder, why does the world seem to love what Black women have to offer, but hate us? I struggle with answering that myself because again, we are huge contributors to pop culture, everything we touch trends at some point, but I’m hard pressed to see actual love for Black women. Would ambivalence be the correct word to describe this relationship?
I first became hyper-aware to this when I started noticing instagrammers making their come-up off of imitating Black women, using the ever so old, and stereotypical, “ghetto” caricature of Black women. Immediately instagrammers such as @blameitonkway and @eastside_ivo come to mind. As a disclaimer, this is no shade to them, because at this point, I’m still not sure if their characters are supposed to be some sort of ode to Black women from their neighborhoods, or them capitalizing off of the same old tired image black women are given in the media, but I couldn’t write this piece without mentioning them. Both men have gained immense popularity by dressing up as Black women (usually as “Titi” and “Keisha”) in beauty supply wigs and lipstick that talk loud, are always ready to be messy, and have a mean neck-roll game.
While I embrace Black women that these characters are supposedly representing (we can all get a little hood), the reception to these characters is not the same as the reception that Black women actually from the hood get. The comment sections for Titi and Keisha are generally filled with positive feedback, people laughing, and giving approval. But, let a video or picture of an actual Black woman that’s a little on the hood side surface, you’re sure to see a few “black bitches. . .” and “ghetto ass black girls. . .” comments. Black girls get dragged for having enough audacity and confidence to be visible online. So essentially, it’s only cool to be a ghetto Black girl if you’re doing it in a “comical” way.
Unless of course you’re channeling your “inner black girl”, or relating to your “black girl spirit animal.” Which is what make-up loving @Bretmanrock is known for. While I’ll acknowledge this young man’s ability to slay a face, his humor and delivery (which is very much so borrowed) is what makes him stand out. But, the very thing that makes him stand out is also what makes him guilty of doing what gay, white men have been doing forever. That is, appropriating the culture, that gay Black men share and cultivate with Black Women, and imitating it for their target audience, white women, who then feel comfortable enough to use it because it is delivered to them in a more “digestible” package. This then causes gay, white men and white women to greet me and other Black women with unnecessary ass “yaaaaaassss” followed by three snaps and a circle *sigh*. His and others’ imitations put the idea of Black womanhood into a tiny box, which lead to very awkward conversations and interactions. I can’t tell you how many co-workers (even bosses) that have tried their best “Shannanay” impressions when speaking to me because they think “gurls” and “boos” are the only thing I understand. And most times, these conversations end with me looking like
Especially because I have heard these same co-workers drag Black women to filth for coming into their businesses being “all loud and ghetto.” So, again, it’s cool to imitate, but not be? Cool.
People have actually tried to defend these actions by bringing up Vines that depict white women in a “valley girl” manner, but how often do those depictions stick? How many white women can honestly say they’ve had co-workers or bosses, or perfect strangers address them this way? White women are depicted in many different ways, and so few of them are harmful to the entire image of white women. Simply put, “funny” videos don’t become the sole model of how white woman are perceived. This is the advantage of being among the majority population.
People using Black women as characters makes us seem unreal. It’s almost as if people are shocked or surprised when Black women from the hood actually do exist and reach some level of stardom. For example, reality stars like Cardi B and Blac Chyna. The reception to these two women is extremely mixed. Granted, they have fans, but their fans tend to be women who look more like them, and many still treat them as jokes. They have had some truly disgusting things said about them by men and women, whites and Blacks alike. Both women are always referred to as “uneducated,” “ratchet,” “hoes,” you know, all the negative adjectives that are usually associated with Black women. Some even go as far as to call Cardi B “retarded” because of the unconventional way that she talks.
While, in contrast, you have the forever appropriating Kardashian/ Jenner clan, who are no different from Cardi B and Blac Chyna in their stardom. They got their come up by selling sex, being linked to many different high-profile men, and of course, reselling and re-branding styles Black women are historically known for. However, unlike Cardi B and Chyna, they are able to grace the covers of highly regarded fashion magazines and walk red carpets to events only A-list celebrities are invited to, all the while not being called “ghetto bitches.” The Kardashians don’t even want Chyna to use their name because it’ll “ruin their brand.” Though that’s a topic for another time, I will say this still illustrates that Black Women are always poised to provide content for brands, but not actually be the face of one.
So basically, Black women are to supply pop culture with our style and jargon, and unless it’s for comical purposes, we otherwise better not exist and must be as invisible as possible to the greater American audience. Yeah, I’m gonna go ahead and say the word to describe this relationship is ambivalence. Bruh. . .