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Help us help you. Please?

First off, peace to y'all. I'm new here.

When yesterday's Psychology Today brou-ha-ha started to hit social media, I was pissed. I took offense first with the title (the first "Why Are Black Women Ugly?") and then was very quick to see that, under this sheen of scientific rigor was supposition and opinion. I was angry not only at the sentiment, but the fact that this was a new Bell Curve, a way to defame black women under the auspices of indisputable science.

So I took to social media, and the black women I follow on Twitter, on Facebook, and on my gChat were livid. Actually, livid is a nice way to put it. You all know; you were there in some shape, form or fashion.

What I got, though, as my voice joined the cacaphony, was that some brothers took it upon themselves to do a couple things it hadn't entered my mind to do. Some had, I hope unintentionally, added their voices in ways that made sisters feel like theirs didn't matter. More egregariously, though, some made it their business to basically tell you to ignore it. To shut up. Y'all are special; why even give this crap the time of day or put forth the energy to rail against it? And a lot of sisters, ripe from the "The most dangerous place for a black child is in the womb" stupidity foisted on them recently, saw that as yet another thing they were expected to brush off, under the guise of being strong sisters who stride the potholes of society with a smile and nary a stumble.

What I started to be told, though, was to shut the entire fuck up. Sisters GOT this. The angry-email-call was already out, posts were made, the white feminism mainstream hadn't really wondered what their brown-identified sisters were over there yelling about just yet (and, as it showed, didn't raise too much of a stink about it.)

A sister I respect said something that I'm coming to you with. A lot is made of the support us black men get from black women, and how black women are supposed to hold down the endangered black man. A lot is made about a lot of cats that are too hurt to accept that help or abuse it when it shows. A lot of us want to help and are turned away, or told to shut the fuck up by women who've been around that bend a few times too many.

What can we, as black men who SAY that we love, appreciate, honor, and treasure the black women in our lives, SHOW you that? Do you really want us to shut the fuck up when shit like this happens, or is that coming from a place of hurt we haven't reached? Do you want me behind the lines, tending to you after you've traded angry blog posts and rage-filled demonstrations? Or do you want me handing you ammo as you hunker down and blast away? Do you want me to man the guns alongside you?

"Just be there" seems passive, and while I know it's rewarded behavior for dudes to want to "solve" issues, and I totally get that this kind of society-sanctioned shitting on black women can't be fixed overnight, and I, and I suspect a lot of other brothers, want to...I dunno...DO more for you. If the answer for you is "just be there", please let me know. I just know I was "there" and, well, I don't think I was of much help, is all.

I understand that the answers are different; hell, I've had dialogue with sisters who simply don't give a damn. Who aren't worried. Who are, quite frankly, irritated at those who felt angry.. So I know the reaction to the story breaking differed, and I know the response to my question will as well.

I look forward to dialoguing with you on less serious topics, but this right here right now is bugging me. How can I, as a black man who loves and respects and thinks about black women as his equals as well as sexy and attractive, help YOU? What can I do? Because there's a lot of examples of what NOT to do...

Peace.

Comments

( 57 comments — Leave a comment )
xayeidemon
May. 18th, 2011 03:43 am (UTC)
What can we, as black men who SAY that we love, appreciate, honor, and treasure the black women in our lives, SHOW you that?

You can respect us as free-thinking, grown ass women and shut the fuck up if we say we don't need or want your help. If you were told to shut the fuck up, you were probably saying something extremely unhelpful/stupid. We don't need your paternalistic, "I just wanted to help you!" crap, either.
jazz_styled
May. 18th, 2011 04:10 am (UTC)
"Gotdamn, it's like a revolutionary act to love and find black women attractive nowadays. Fake-ass science and media influence will do that."

and

"PsychToday should know they fucked up. This is an opinion piece with a shitty sheen of science over it."

That's what I said. So that was something unhelpful/stupid. Gotcha.

And peace to you.
(no subject) - polymexina - May. 18th, 2011 12:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jazz_styled - May. 18th, 2011 02:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
nepthys_12
May. 18th, 2011 03:49 am (UTC)
Sorry in advance for the td:lr.
This is a great start, but also just supporting black women. If we say something is bullshit and damaging to image of black women it most probably is and we have a right to be pissed. I completely agree with your third paragraph. I am so tired of black women being told don't take it personally, its not that bad, or just ignore it. Sorry but I can't and I won't, things like this article and PepsiMax commercial won't mess up my day. However, that doesn't mean I can't take action. I can write letters, emails, blog, sign petitions, and refuse to purchase products from anyone that demeans me and other black women. Contrary to popular belief doing these things doesn't mean I'm letting it get to me, it just means I'm not going to let you insult and degrade me without repercussions. Men don't have to necessarily STFU, as long as they're not speaking over women and they don't call our reactions as waste of time. ETA: Also with agreeing xayiedemon, if we say STFU and STFU fall back.

Edited at 2011-05-18 03:53 am (UTC)
jazz_styled
May. 18th, 2011 04:13 am (UTC)
Thank you for that. What does "just supporting black women" mean? How? That's the crux of my issue. I expect no accolades, so I'm not coming to y'all for vindication, but I honestly and in good faith want to know what works. "STFU" doesn't seem to be something that will necessarily work.
(no subject) - nepthys_12 - May. 18th, 2011 04:57 am (UTC) - Expand
diseased_inside
May. 18th, 2011 03:50 am (UTC)
Also know when to shut up and listen. Above all else.
putaweekonit
May. 18th, 2011 04:10 am (UTC)
i'm still wondering what was said(by you, personally) that ruffled feathers. i applaud black men that defend and represent black women, respectfully without discounting our views, beliefs, and feelings and DON'T tell us to "get over it," and "just let it go, not that serious." the point is, don't just chime in to see yourself talk, because we damn sure don't do that, come with a point or don't speak. WE KNOW we're above this flarn, but we're sick of being told we're any and everything BUT awesome. we see these messages DAILY, subliminally, but when some assface has the nerve to be bold about it, we're going full force, cocked and loaded, and comments about "leaving it be" are not needed.
putaweekonit
May. 18th, 2011 04:12 am (UTC)
"we damn sure don't do that," meaning we don't speak just to hear ourselves talk in regards to defending our race as a whole.
(no subject) - jazz_styled - May. 18th, 2011 04:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sarafinapekkala - May. 18th, 2011 05:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - putaweekonit - May. 18th, 2011 06:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - yalegirl03 - May. 18th, 2011 06:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
misadventurelad
May. 18th, 2011 04:18 am (UTC)
What I started to be told, though, was to shut the entire fuck up.

It sounds like people were telling you what they needed from you. Trusting Black women to know what they need, and that they'll tell you when they need you to do more is a big part of being supportive. Probably the biggest after active listening.
parlance
May. 18th, 2011 07:55 am (UTC)
Thank you.
(no subject) - polymexina - May. 18th, 2011 12:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
espnchick1920
May. 18th, 2011 04:42 am (UTC)
Like I told you earlier, sometimes your support isn't about DOING or SAYING anything, particularly if it comes off as trying to "fix" what is "our" problem. Sometimes support is just about BEING. Men, in their "fixer" mindset (whether natural or socialized) don't seem to understand this concept. Sometimes, as Chris Rock said, we really just need for you to nod your head and drop a few "mmm-hmmm", "I THINK I understand" (cuz you never truly will), and "I told you _____________ was crazy/racist/sexist/fucked-up." When we are pissed and expressing our anger, your (men's) attempts to placate us with your endearments ("You are so beautiful. I love you so much. Etc") comes off as just that...an attempt to placate us. This reinforces the notion that our anger is unjustified and can be brushed aside with a pat on the shoulder with a "there, there dear". Placating is another version of "fixing". We don't NEED you to fix shit, especially our emotions. Sometimes your presence alone is support enough.
nepthys_12
May. 18th, 2011 05:01 am (UTC)
This. I agree I don't want hear how hot random black woman celebrity is, or the black woman is queen. Great you find black women attractive/love them, now do you know a damn thing about the systematic assault on our beauty, our personhoods, our motherhood and childhood and our lives.
(no subject) - witchsistah - May. 18th, 2011 09:07 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - keeni84 - May. 18th, 2011 11:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - polymexina - May. 18th, 2011 12:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - espnchick1920 - May. 18th, 2011 12:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nepthys_12 - May. 18th, 2011 08:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - richirch2 - May. 18th, 2011 05:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - yalegirl03 - May. 18th, 2011 06:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nepthys_12 - May. 18th, 2011 08:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - batty_gal - May. 18th, 2011 09:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - the_zedster - May. 20th, 2011 06:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - the_zedster - May. 20th, 2011 06:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
deedee_dancer
May. 18th, 2011 06:26 am (UTC)
It's gonna be a long week.
parlance
May. 18th, 2011 07:52 am (UTC)
LOL.
Oh, Evilene. - thewayoftheid - May. 18th, 2011 02:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Oh, Evilene. - deedee_dancer - May. 18th, 2011 03:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
sixpita
May. 18th, 2011 09:28 am (UTC)
Sometimes when someone tells you to shut the fuck up, you got to shut the fuck up. I realize you were trying to help but think about how you'd feel if you were dealing with a race issue and a bunch of White people stampeded in and drowned you out? It's nothing personal, but part of being a male feminist is letting the women speak because it's about us and not about you. You can understand the sociology of it, but you will never really know because you've never walked in our shoes.
cinema_babe
May. 18th, 2011 11:20 am (UTC)
Sentiment appreciated but, as a black woman and a feminist, there are times I just want men who are allies to be a strong, quiet wall backing me up with actions, not a voice in what I consider to be my fight.

When a man speaks up,no matter how supportive, it can easily send the message that my voice, and the voice of other women, are invalid unless a man adds his voice too; in short, you need a man's voice to add validity to your outrage.

So thanks, but if you want to show your support (as opposed to playing the "I'm a male feminist, look how good of a person I am" game; and I hope you're not) don't go to the site, boycott it's sponsors:

Do, don't say.

Edited at 2011-05-18 11:23 am (UTC)
jazz_styled
May. 18th, 2011 11:49 am (UTC)
Thank you for all of that.

I thought that adding my voice of anger was an action that was needed, but I see the consensus is that it's not. It's also clear that I come from a position where to simply stand there, being that rock and that support, is/was not an act in itself, but more of a paralysis of action than action in itself. "I don't know what to do, so I'm just going to sit here." Perhaps it's how I'm socialized as a dude? I don't know.

My actions speak louder than words; we were raised with that. I thought that the action of speaking was louder than the action of being that quiet support, but the consensus is that it is not. Obviously, your outrage is valid without me.

As for the game; no, I'm not playing the "I'm a male feminist, look how good I am" because I was taught that actions speak louder than words, and that the seeming dearth of action wasn't what I needed to do to extend the notion of support to black women I know and don't know and that I agree with their outrage.

Thanks again.
keeni84
May. 18th, 2011 11:42 am (UTC)
And right on cue, a comment on a friend's facebook page this morning from a black fella:

</i>why you so offended? it's not true chill. black women are beautiful.</i>




jazz_styled
May. 18th, 2011 11:54 am (UTC)
Some dudes don't get it. I never voiced the opinion, or even had it in my head, that your beauty/talent/je na sai quoi made up for getting roundly attacked in the media. That y'all are strong and to shrug it off. I came posting to y'all because I wanted to know what black women needed from us.

And it sure wasn't the crap THAT cat posted.
littleeva
May. 18th, 2011 01:27 pm (UTC)
Maybe they just wanted you to be quiet and LISTEN.
imjustice
May. 18th, 2011 01:57 pm (UTC)
a different opinion
i still have mixed feelings about this article.

at 1st when i heard about it i just filed it under the category of more bullshit i don't have time to be bothered with. i wasn't angry at any black women expressing outrage, but i did kinda wonder..."why are they even wasting time on this? this is clearly an illegitimate study."
race has clearly been invalidated & is universally acknowledged by "scientists" as having no basis in biology. but even if you accept racial classifications as real, most Black people outside of subsaharan Africa and even within have significant amounts of DNA from other racial groups. And most importantly, within Africa as a whole, within sub-saharan Africa, and even within regions of Africa, there is an incredible biological diversity, and diversity of phenotypes. So to say someone looks African or Black is very unspecific. So the whole part about androgynous features is just completely fucking made-up.

and I processed all these thoughts very quickly, so I too wondered why so many people were "wasting their time".
And I also felt that there are plenty of Black women who wrestle with their identity and accepting their beauty when society tells us different, who could genuinely be hurt by hearing about this & i just wished people would ignore it so it could disappear.

But shit doesn't always go away b/c you ignore it. and this is particularly important b/c this is not just another random loser hiding behind the internet to spew racist vitriol. this is racism in the name of science. when you conduct a study, it's to answer a question.

his research question was apparently "Why are black women so ugly?" which based on his notions of gender and attractiveness would seem to necessitate the need for a complementary study "why are black men so attractive". or a subsequent study: "how come black women are ugly but think they are so attractive?" but i digress. this person presumably spent money & time to conduct this study, to answer his research question. Why? What are his motives? Who is his audience? We can assume he'd realize that Black people--or at least Black women--would be less than receptive to his conclusion.
Why is his dichotomy Black v. Non-Black? How does he address the issue of "mixed"-ness? Or how were Blackness and non-Blackness defined?

So going back through history, to see how "Science" has been used to justify all types of inhumane treatment of Black and other peoples across the globes to justify slavery & colonization, & continues today through the soft sciences of economics, political science, sociology, & apparently psychology to justify everything from higher incarceration rates of Black men in America, to label Black women as STD-ridden, and to explain the complete decimation of African economies through structural adjustment programs, IMF & World Bank loans and "aid" given by western governments.

so this whole thing is symptomatic of a much bigger issue, and the outrage makes sense.

cinema_babe
May. 18th, 2011 05:49 pm (UTC)
Re: a different opinion
Another reason why this irks me is that people read it and because becasue this man makes it look scientific, people who read it will consume it without questioning the validity of his information.
Re: a different opinion - richirch2 - May. 18th, 2011 05:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: a different opinion - nepthys_12 - May. 18th, 2011 08:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: a different opinion - imjustice - May. 19th, 2011 12:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: a different opinion - richirch2 - May. 19th, 2011 02:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
imjustice
May. 18th, 2011 01:58 pm (UTC)
so what can a brotha do?

well if what you posted as your comments gave us full disclosure as to the whole exchange, i would say the person who responded to you in that manner may have just had an understandable sensitivity to anyone who wasn't a black woman.

but this is about more than saying the right things.

what a brotha can do, is treat all women with respect. a brotha can make sure he influences the younger men in his life to treat women with respect. to make them aware of what rape and abuse are, and ensure to the best of his ability that the young man he influences are not rapists and abusers. that he recognizes the sacredness of women not just as bearers of life, but as creations of God or beings worthy of his full respect and honor.

A brotha can check himself and his friends, homies, family members, etc...to see how he treats black women. is he abusive? is he misogynist? has he raped? does he respect women? are you capable of showing women love? not just the ones you're sexual with & not just the ones you aren't sexually involved with.

in particular reference to this article, a brotha can check his own standards of beauty...analyze where his influences come from...it's not to say you have to believe black women are more beautiful than any other women. it's not to say you have to be with a black woman. because maybe you're gay, or asexual, or maybe the love of your life is from the Phillipines. it's so much deeper than that.

When you interact with women at your job do you treat them with equal respect? do you encourage women to take leadership roles, and are you able to support them when they do? do you refer to any woman as a bitch, hoe, cunt, etc when you're angry? Do you do your part to make sure the black women in your life are safe?

How is your masculinity, or Man-ness defined? Are you comfortable learning from women? Not just as your "opposite" but as full human beings who may have more knowledge, expertise, experience, or wisdom than you do on any number of things.

all of that is essential. that's how you show love & support to black women. forget what some person on the internet feels about a comment you made. how do the women you know in real life feel about you? do they feel safe with you? respected by you? what about the little girls in your life? do you encourage them to believe that they can do anything? that's how you show solidarity with black women.

that's way more important. that's how you show your support of black women.
thewayoftheid
May. 18th, 2011 02:42 pm (UTC)
Yes,
This. Alladis.
(no subject) - jazz_styled - May. 18th, 2011 02:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - parlance - May. 18th, 2011 08:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nepthys_12 - May. 18th, 2011 08:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - batty_gal - May. 18th, 2011 09:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - the_zedster - May. 20th, 2011 06:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
shamsjam
May. 18th, 2011 06:45 pm (UTC)
First "Jazz Styled," I say WELCOME since you stated you were new here. I just wanna add that I agree with everybody's opinion about you wanting to help a sista out. I appreciate ya. But this guy tried to base his view on SCIENCE as a justification of his shallow views to support his offensive theories...and just ended up looking like a dickhead.

I expect this guy to say he's got black friends next...
jazz_styled
May. 18th, 2011 07:05 pm (UTC)
I appreciate the welcome, and I suppose it's a bit different than the "bitchassness" and "negro please" this post got tagged with. :)But thank you sincerely.

I don't think this dude has black friends, frankly. Someone I know that SOME black woman just had to turn him down for him to write this vitriol.

I got peeved at this thin veneer of science he used to justify his views as well, but quite a few people have shrugged at that, apparently. Even some people here.
dyvinesweetness
May. 19th, 2011 02:48 pm (UTC)
I truly don't see the point of coming here to say "other Black women told me to shut up, so what do YOU black women think I should do?" if *not* to say "validate me." 'Cause clearly one or two women don't represent all Black women. Just like whatever the few of us that would post here would say is not a representation of how you need to approach ALL Black women. The whole premise of this is questionable. Sorry, but it is.

In the future I think your best bet is to take each response each person says as a way to treat and respond to that individual person (male or female, Black or non-Black). And not come to other black women asking them about how to treat Black women as a response to what a totally different group/pair of black women said. Whether intended or not, it does come across as you wanting us to validate you and/or to align with you against "those other chicks."

Think of it this way, if someone wrote a piece about men and two of your male friends from school happened to not like or want to hear the response you had about that, you wouldn't go to your friends at work like "how should I respond???? my friends at school didn't like my response, what do YOU guys think about this?" It would seem silly, right? 'Cause your schools friends have nothing to do with with your work friends and neither group should determine how you respond to all your male friends.

Same with us.

Add this to everything Isis (imjustice) said and I think you'll fare well.
jazz_styled
May. 19th, 2011 04:34 pm (UTC)
I appreciate this. I can see where you would arrive at the conclusions you did, and can admit that my posting did have the unintentional effect of appearing like I wanted validation. I didn't do so with that intent, but while the "stfu" was the response that bothered me the most, I realized I was dealing with a small group of women and came here to a larger group.

I sincerely apologize to you and the other ladies who were corrective, albeit in different ways. :) And you're absolutely right; what imjustice posted was a great reference and list of strategies for supporting black women.

Peace.
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