Last week, Traci Young-Byron, owner of the Young Contemporary Dance Theatre in Florida, posted a video of her amazingly talented dancers in action. The video has since gone viral, and many comments have been posted in response to the video.
But, the comments have not been supportive and many of them have been focused on the girls’ attire, rather than their talent. Attire that is standard in the dance world, mind you.
“Look at those fast ass girls”
“If these were my daughters, there’s no way in hell they’d come out looking like these little hoes!”
“They’ll be strippers by the time they’re 19!”
“Fast ass?” “Hoes?” Is this what we truly think of our girls?
Unfortunately, this attitude towards Black girls runs rampant within our community. Click around social media and you will see dozens of disparaging comments about Black girls’ bodies and attire. Our girls are not allowed to be free and to openly express themselves without being policed, sexualized, and criticized. This greatly contributes to poor body image among Black girls
As I have written previously for “Feminist Wednesday”:
“The harsh and constant policing of Black Girls’ bodies has led us to become ashamed of ourselves- ashamed of our bodies and our sexualities. Our larger hips, ample asses, and breasts are hypersexualized, and as a defense mechanism, we hide our sexual desires in order to repel this hypersexualization and judge others who choose not to. We label other women as “hos” and steer clear of them, still suffering from the fear of being labeled a “fast-tailed girl.” We quickly dismiss victims’ statements about their sexual assaults and instead run to the perpetrator’s defense. (Prime example: R.Kelly. Black women, men, and others STILL support him and his music.) The social acceptance of body-shaming, slut-shaming, and victim-blaming within Black culture has shown that our girls are not valued, with the statistics to prove it.”
Our girls are suffering. Their creativity is being stifled and they are growing up with low self-esteem and sex-negative outlooks. But, we are ALL to blame.
Through our demonizing of our girls and coddling of abusers, we perpetuate rape culture regularly.
If you’ve ever called a girl “fast” or “hot”, you’ve perpetuated rape culture.
If you’ve ever called a girl a “hoe”, a “thot”, or a “hoe in training”, you’ve perpetuated rape culture.
If you’ve ever forced your daughter to change clothes because her outfits “revealed too much”, you’ve perpetuated rape culture.
If you’ve ever told your daughter to change clothes because a “certain” male family member was coming over, “you’ve perpetuated rape culture.
If you’ve ever second-guessed an assault victim’s story or asked them “what they were wearing” when they were assaulted”, you’ve perpetuated rape culture.
If you’ve ever told a young woman to “leave something to the imagination”, you’ve perpetuated rape culture. (This is also a weak excuse because seriously- in most cases, you know basic human anatomy and you KNOW what’s under people’s clothes. How much more is there to imagine?)
I implore you to check out my piece, “Fast-Tailed Girls, originally posted on Feminist Wednesday:
Let’s begin to educate ourselves and do better by our girls and our culture.
Leave Lizzo Alone
Queen & Slim | In The Middle
What a Viral Twitter Thread Can Teach Us About Love and Trauma
After a chance meeting with a New York legend, Chaédria LaBouvier, the Guggenheim Museum’s first black female curator, promised herself if she experienced another special encounter on New York’s MTA bus service, she would live-tweet it for the world. Probably sooner than she expected, she found herself giving her followers a play-by-play of a man and woman discussing their relationship, its problems, and how they can solve them.
According to LaBouvier, everything began with the man telling his girlfriend, “I love you and I want to make this work but you’re mean AS FUCK and it’s wearing me down.” Her tweets then went on to describe the man explaining that she doesn’t know how to communicate her concerns in a healthy and productive way with him and pleading with her to seek help from a mental health professional.
The woman acknowledges not only his concerns but also her own frustration with her actions and her reservations about therapy. “’I know I don’t communicate my feelings…I didn’t grow up with that and I had to teach myself… what if therapy doesn’t work for me? What if I’m just angry?’”
Oooff. Overhearing this relationship in trouble on the shuttle bus and the guy just told the girl, “I love you and I want to make us work but you’re mean AS FUCK and it’s wearing me down.”— No Quarter Will Be Given (@chaedria) December 1, 2019
She’s just looking at him like she knows he’s right but doesn’t know what to do about it.
LADY PLEASE GO TO THERAPY SO YOU CAN KEEP THIS MAN IN A GORGEOUS TWEED COAT WHO LOVES YOU— No Quarter Will Be Given (@chaedria) December 1, 2019
I want them to get through this
Her: “Therapy just makes me feel like I’m failing all of the time and you don’t…I know I don’t communicate my feelings…I didn’t grow up with that and I had to teach myself. I know I go off, believe me. I just… what if therapy won’t work for me? What if i’m just angry.”— No Quarter Will Be Given (@chaedria) December 1, 2019
To some, LaBouvier’s tweets hearkened back to the problematic “#PlaneBae” incident in which a comedian’s live-tweets of flirtatious meet-cute between two fellow passengers on her flight from New York to Dallas included photos of the unsuspecting pair. Many, though, are hailing the unidentified MTA man’s devotion to his relationship and LaBouvier’s (@chaedria on Twitter) account as a beautiful example of love, commitment, patience, and compromise.
I’m armoring up for a bad relationship talk tonight. This thread has reminded me to bring a little less armor and a little more consideration. Thank you, and them, for the reminder.— outofupfor (@outofupfor) December 2, 2019
He sounds like he has done a lot of the work he is hoping to convince her to go through. He is expressing needs, setting boundaries, and withholding judgment in a way few could manage without some coaching.— Andrew Langmead (@alangmead) December 2, 2019
I love the hope in this.— Stephen Black (@stephenablack) December 2, 2019
They’ve already gotten through a lot:
1) Acknowledging the problem
2) Taking responsibility
3) Wanting to change
4) Accepting therapy
All that’s left, and it’s a big one, is doing the hard work in therapy.
I wish them the best. Thanks for sharing ❤️
In the exchange, the man affirms his girlfriend’s feelings about her anger and recognizes how difficult it can be to change learned behaviors, especially when the raw emotion of a lover’s quarrel come into play. Often times, couples fail to acknowledge the impact of their actions while focusing on the recipient, but both participants here succeed in validating the other and showing empathy for one another at the same time. “’I want a better YOU not someone else… would it help you if I went with you [to therapy]? I’ll ask my mom if she has any recommendations,’” the man offers
However, what he likely doesn’t understand is that just any old “therapy” isn’t always the answer. Our MTA heroine arguably needs a trauma therapist specializing in PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder – as evidenced by her brief detail of her childhood experience and the shame she feels every night. By her own admission she continually tries to correct her behavior yet fails, and a trauma specialist could not only better understand her situation, but also potentially reduce the pain she feels, slow the frequency of her “blackouts,” and address any other side effects.
When thinking of the traumas that can affect any of us, it’s important to remember that what scars us individually may not scar us collectively. Whatever she experienced may not be immediately understandable or accessible to us (or her boyfriend whose race remains a mystery while LaBouvier identifies her as a woman of color), but it still grieves her daily. Imagine breaking a limb – you may get a cast and lollipop at the hospital, but that pain still remains until the injury is fully healed. Equally, that pain still affects our interactions with other others. All human interaction is dependent on our relationships and when our feelings are hurt, those relationships are thrown into chaos until the injury is healed or at least back in a working state.
This couple’s relationship may not be perfect, but their willingness to work together through their weaknesses is a sign all love is not lost. While therapy is not a cure-all, the right therapy can heal a lot of injuries.
Check out the full thread on the flip and let us know what you think. Can therapy help their relationship? Do you have a personal experience you’d like to share?