It’s that time again – Pride! In remembrance of the LGBTQIA+ community who sparked a nation-wide gay rights movement after the Stonewall uprising in the late 1960s, you might already have noticed that sections of your town or city are decorated with rainbow flags and welcome signs, streets and sidewalks are painted with rainbows, your baseball team may even be wearing rainbow-colored socks (which their bigoted fans are currently arguing on the internet about). If you aren’t seeing signs of Pride month in your town, you need to move far, far away because you live in a sad, sad place. But I digress…
All month, there are Pride-related events – festivals and parades and parties and drag shows. As an ally, you may want to attend these events, and you probably feel pretty proud of yourself for all your “wokeness,” which means you have no clue about just how problematic and down-right annoying you are. As an ally and a former weirdo at Pride events, let me offer you some advice so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did.
Noah Berger/Associated Press
No matter how many books you’ve read, how many podcasts you’ve listened to, and how many Tumblr pages you’ve double-tapped, you’re still problematic.
You just have to accept the fact that you are problematic. No, you aren’t as problematic as the guy white women and men voted into the White House, but you’ve probably still got a little learning to do. Kudos to you for educating yourself, questioning your beliefs, and trying to be a better person — you should feel proud of yourself – however, there are just some things you will get wrong, and it’s okay. If somebody checks you about it, take the lesson, nod, smile and grow from it.
You’re a guest, so act accordingly.
At many of these Pride events, a good time will be had by all. There will be plenty of Beyoncé, some good ole fashioned twerking and voguing, and you are going to want to join in the fun. You should, but remember, ain’t nobody come to see your straight-ass duck-walk, so chill.I get it, you're excited & want to be supportive, but remember, the LGBTQIA+ community has been getting on fine without you since Moses parted the sea. One of the best things you can do as an ally is to let people live in peace. Click To Tweet
You’re a straight, we get it, now be quiet.
You are in a space populated by everyone on the sexual identity spectrum, and the assumption is that your sexual identity does too. If your sexual identity is firmly planted at cisgender hetero, that’s all well and fine. It is quite okay to be okay with that. However, don’t spend the day announcing to everyone that you are a straight. I know you think it’s cute or whatever, but it’s not. Ugh, I am literally cringing as I write this reflecting on how stupid I was. Woooo chile…the ghetto!
Save your questions and insights for Twitter
I remember when I first heard the word Trade. I happened to be a Pride event, and I was so intrigued. I was so curious that I proceeded to spend the rest of the day grilling my lovely companion about the history and origin of Trade. If that wasn’t bad enough, I then proceeded to point out every gentleman to verify if he would be considered Trade. Imagine you are at a party having a good time and your weirdo friend keeps tapping your shoulder pointing out men asking, “Oh, oh, is he one? With the baseball cap and the sagging pants? He’s Trade, right?” I was so clueless, just a whole mess. It was cute that I learned a new word, but Pride events are not the place to get your education (unless you’re at an educational workshop, which I was not). Chances are you will hear some new word or lingo that you aren’t familiar with; it is okay to be curious. My advice – create a new document on your Notes app, type the word down for research purposes later and keep the party going. Don’t stop the good time trying to learn some shit.
Don’t be a cliché
It is inevitable that you will be overcome with the sheer fabulosity of it all. Before you can stop yourself, the ‘Yesssssss Queeeeeeen’ is going to jump out of you. Sometimes, this is appropriate like at a drag show, a contest, or maybe a performance. Please don’t be that person that ‘Yesssssss Queeeeeeeen’’s every boy in a belly shirt and booty shorts you pass. A compliment is fine, but don’t be a weirdo about it. There is a huge difference. People get all dressed up to be noticed, not to be your spectacle, feel me?
Allyship is a slippery slope. It’s a thin line between being an ally and a weirdo, believe me, I’ve crossed it more times than I care to admit. Mostly, we are well-meaning people, but being an ally is a process. It’s about taking ownership over building trust with the community we wish to align ourselves with, and this requires consistency, accountability, and yes, a little humility. And I get it, you are excited, and you want to be so supportive, but remember, the LGBTQIA+ community has been getting on fine without you since Moses parted the sea, and one of the best things you can do as an ally is to just let people live in peace.
What other tips can you share to make people better allies?
Featured Image Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels
“Instagram Impostors: Twitter Exposes White Womens’ “N*ggerfishing’ Tactics”
On election night, while the nation waited with bated breath over poll results, Twitter user, Dee (@yeahboutella) shared a series of Instagram screenshots on Twitter regarding their dismay and shock over a white woman outed for being white. Now you may be asking yourself how is someone is outed regarding race in 2018 and especially as white? Evidently, a Swedish white woman Emma Hallberg, who goes by the username @eemmahallberg on Instagram, was accused of sleeping with braids to give her hair a fuller and more textured look, spray tanning her skin until it was five or six shades darker, and using foundation to deepen the appearance of her skin.These white women are physically altering themselves to look like mixed-raced women of African descent for social and monetary capital. Click To Tweet
Replies to Dee’s thread consisted of equally shocked Twitter users, and one tweet even featured a stark contrast between @eemmahallberg’s appearance in 2016 and 2018. Another tweet revealed a shot of her Youtube video showing the disparity between her darker foundation and her naturally fairer skin. Writer Wanna (@WannasWorld) who has masterfully framed Black women in the hood and their direct influence on fashion, asked her followers to add more women like Hallberg, who essentially cosplay racially ambiguous mixed-race women of African descent to showcase the Instagram phenomenon. Moreover, she brilliantly highlighted it as a “ni**erfishing epidemic.” Replies flooded Wanna’s tweet and even prompted accounts dedicated to exhibiting what can only be described as something along the lines of racist body dysmorphia.
So what is the issue here besides the complete absurdity of it all? Well, for one, there are multiple issues with this. Let’s look at the most obvious: these white women are physically altering themselves to look like mixed-raced women of African descent for social and monetary capital.
Due to the vigorous erasure of unambiguous Black women in mass media, the market for mixed-raced and racially ambiguous women has skyrocketed. To illustrate this point Black women’s representation drastically shifted from the Afrocentric look in the 1990s to what we have seen and continue to see in contemporary eras of the 2000s and 2010s, which is a more “universally appealing” look generally found in women who are not monoracially Black. The abundance of Black women who cannot be cosplayed by white women such: members of En Vogue, Blaque, Brownstone, SWV; Brandy, Lauryn Hill, Tatyana Ali, and Nia Long dwindled in preference to: Zendaya, Kehlani, Alexandra Shipp, Amandla Stenberg, Jhene Aiko, Cassie, Yara Shahidi, and Cardi B.
The high demand for women with features that are Black enough to provide the exoticism and white enough to appeal and provide accessibility to white women created the space for literal imposters — or ni**afishes. ‘The look,’ popularly known as ‘Instagram Baddie,’ relies on Black women as its foundation, but because Blackness fails white beauty standards it has to be adequately removed from Blackness to appeal to white women. The Instagram Baddie aesthetic for non-Black women results in more likes on social media which operates as social currency thus inadvertently; however, more times than not, intentionally garners recognition from beauty corporations invested in exploiting the insecurities of women for profit.The high demand for women with features that are Black enough to provide the exoticism and white enough to appeal and provide accessibility to white women created the space for literal imposters — or ni**afishes. Click To Tweet
Brands reach out to non-Black Instagram baddies, at remarkably higher rates than the Black women whose looks create the foundation for the aesthetic. These corporations provide the “universally appealing” women with lucrative opportunities such as brand ambassadorships; all expense paid trips, advertising deals, and free products. The business becomes cyclical: white and non-Black women alter their appearance to become ‘Instagram Baddies,’ they gain social validation through likes which subsequently increases financial profits on both the woman and brands side, and it reinforces a beauty standard at the ironic exclusion of Black women.
Disappointingly, because the Black folks — en mass — continue to uphold and adhere to the racist one-drop rule, racially ambiguous mixed-race women are seen as Black although their sociopolitical and economic experiences are measurably different in comparison to Black women. The differences between the two groups of women is an iteration of the colonial three caste system in Southern Louisiana, a part of U.S. history that isn’t as widely interrogated as it should be although it set a precedent for colorism the United States.
Now, in the modern-age, racial ambiguity has afforded mixed-raced, and consequently white women, the privilege of trapezing a broader demographic. For whites and non-Black people of color Instagram baddies are ‘exotic,’ and to Blacks, these women are still seen as Black because there may be a little bit of Black in them, even when it turns out there isn’t any at all. This more expansive demographic translates to higher opportunities for marketability and monetary profit because diverse groups of people will consume the image of these women more favorably.
The preeminent non-Black women to ni**erfish in the contemporary era are the Kardashian-Jenners. They may not have been duped the public into believing that they are Black; however, they tap into Black women’s aesthetic for their marketability as well as steady proximity to Blackness by way of their male partners and high-profile Black women friends. It is not by chance that Kim and her family have dominated ‘urban’ blogs like Bossip and The Shade Room and have become household names among Black America in comparison to other non-Black and white celebrities like a Sofía Vergara or Jennifer Lawrence who are also positioned as standards of beauty.
Rapper and ex-boyfriend of the youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner klan, Kylie, recently spoke about the deliberate efforts the Kardashians make in co-opting Blackness. Regarding Kylie’s drastic shift from ordinary white girl to an Instagram baddie, he said, “you gotta look at the before and after. She always had a platform, and she was always destined to be what she was going to be regardless, but, when I stepped in, there was a lot of codes being taught.” By codes it can be inferred he means Black codes, presumably the way Black women pose in pictures, dress, and wear their hair and makeup. He followed up by saying “…it was like, you could do this, you should start this, you should start doing your hair like this, you should add that because you need black people to f— with you…” “…if you ain’t got Black people behind you, you ain’t got nothing.”
It was one thing for the Kardashian-Jenner family to satisfy the Black Male Gaze but by donning the entire custom of racial ambiguity and signaling cues of Blackness is how they fascinated the community as a whole. Their shape-shifting allowed them to not only sell their products to white women desperate to look more interesting, seen in the timing of Kylie’s lip kits and her lip filler debacle but also to Black women who also aspire to attain a look that receives widespread approval, particularly from Black men.
A hard truth in this trend is the complicity of Black people. As Tyga truthfully articulated, “…if you ain’t got Black people behind you, you ain’t got nothing.” There has to be a substantial investment in racially ambiguous mixed-race women and an affirmation of their Blackness even when it is not being asked for by them in order for them to pull the con off.
For Black men, their internalize anti-Black racism is projected through implicit and explicit violence against Black women. They shame and vilify Black features and characteristics on Black women with colorism and featurism yet praise and seek out white and non-Black women who have transformed themselves into caricatures of Black women. Moreover, because they are still men, the act of women contorting themselves to appease them is an added ego-boost. Partnering and creating progeny with these women ultimately fulfill their white male penis envy and erases the parts (or entirety) of Blackness they wish did not exist in themselves.
For Black women, their participation in the elevation of these women is a more woeful tale. Because they desire to be desired by Black men they follow whom they see appealing to Black men. Because patriarchal domination transcends sexual orientation, the desire is not solely based in cisheteronormativity but rather the general oppression of women. Their added media erasure — which has not yet happened to Black men — creates a void in healthy self-esteem building. Thus, allowing for any representation no matter how fictitious to serve their need to be seen and affirmed. Capitalism, racism, and patriarchy become the driving forces that create the environment for Black women become reliable and loyal consumers for racially ambiguous mixed-raced women and now white women who advance their erasure and sell their image back to them.
So, yes the ni**erfishing trend is ridiculous, and the name — coming from a Black woman — may make you let out a hearty chuckle, but the implications are dire. Not only have mixed-race women replaced Black women in spaces designated for them thanks to the one-drop rule but because of their easily mimicable features, white women and non-Black can now take up space and opportunities that were already hard for Black women to access and now make it all but impossible for Black women to do so. More importantly, outside of the monetary and social capital, the diet blackface only further complicates an already complex sense of self among Black women. Unlike women like Hallberg, Black women’s race-based body dysmorphia has not and is not met with light-hearted Twitter jokes or compassion but instead vitriolic shaming and silencing. Since social capital, in this case, is controlled by users of social media platforms, shifting your following and likes to unambiguous Black women is an excellent starting point to remedy the damage caused by ‘ni**afishes.’
What’s Beef: Rap vs. Feminism
There is a serious lack of solidarity in rap/hip-hop despite the third wave of feminism that’s swept mainstream culture. Why do you think that is?
Rap/Hip-Hop has been a mainstay within Black culture since its arrival in the mid-70s. The colorful art of spoken word over beats was no different than 50s beat poetry and to many, it provided a positive means of expression. As a genre, rap/hip-hop gave many the voice to speak truth to power while inspiring and encouraging the community it was birthed from. But as time went on, the genre changed, adopting many of the societal tropes that saw women as objects, victims, and targets to exploit. This misogyny, while easily recognizable when coming from male aggressors, is incredibly nuanced, particularly when its perpetrators are female.
“The misogynist lyrics of gangsta rap are hateful indeed, but they do not represent a new trend in Black popular culture, nor do they differ fundamentally from woman hating discourses that are common among White men. The danger of this insight is that it might be read as an apology for Black misogyny.” – Leola Johnson, Academic
At the dawn of a rap era with hits like “Bitches Ain’t Shit” by Dr. Dre, Queen Latifah’s anthemic “U.N.I.T.Y” was a breath of fresh air. Directly attacking the unconscionable language and endorsed behavior directed at the sole demographic that has always been the pillar of support for men of color, Latifah proudly questioned a growing trend of oppressive black male patriarchy. Standing strong at a small but mighty crew of female emcees, “U.N.I.T.Y.” was a call to action in a genre that did not respect women, let alone provide them with opportunities to shine. From the inception of gangsta rap, female rap artists have spent their careers fighting for their place in a genre where their success is contingent upon subordination. But the addition of in-fighting as a means to assert dominance leaves many disappointed in the wake of the most female empowered era of the game.
Aside from the lack of solidarity among female artists, more troubling is the complicity of rapstresses who stand by men who maintain misogynist ideals. Remy Ma really sat on a panel in silence with Joe Budden as he was gaslighting Scottie Beam and claimed, unintelligently, that the false female empowerment movement was devoted to picking [women] up when they are wrong. Her ability to sit idly by as Scottie provided opposition and depth on the topic is exactly the type of cosign that enables men to continue that negative behavior. Never mind the fact that she would later defend R.Kelly, who faces decades of accusations of assault exclusively against Black women.
We live in a time where people argue that silence is acceptance and that we should separate the art from the artist. But we are asked to do the latter when the targets of violence are almost exclusively female. Imagine being asked to give your assailant a pass because they write good music. When we examine why there is a lack of solidarity in the Hip-Hop community, we must consider that it’s due to the long-term effects of misogyny/misogynoir.
Learn From This
Seeing popular female artists pitted against one another in a genre where 22 to 37% of the lyrics contain misogyny is painful. Hip hop’s authenticity is traditionally graded on a scale of masculinity, where even the ownership of one’s own objectification works against the artist and leads to further marginalization. Female rap artists are victims of an industry that forces them to take the side of their oppressors and attack artists who fit their style as a means to find success. This most recent blow-up between Nicki and Cardi is proof of that, but this problem dates back to the origins of female rap.
Emcees like Mc Lyte, Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, and Trina have all contributed to the complex legacies of rap artists with music that detracts and affirms the worth of Black women. How is it possible that in a time where we sing “Formation” and “God is a woman” we are unable to find positive female relationships among rap artists? Name one mainstream female only rap collaboration from this year. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
French Montana Creates Preschool Classrooms in Morocco
The Moroccan born rapper, French Montana, is following in his boss Diddy’s footsteps. The “Pop That” musician is working with the Sabae School of Fida-Mers Sultan district to fund two preschool classrooms. His contribution to the classrooms will do wonders for the school by making sure they have all of the supplies they need and that it can stay open for years to come.
This is not Montana’s first humanitarian act for Africa. According to TMZ, he raised $500K to build a hospital in Uganda that is now helping serve around 300,000 women in about 40 villages.
Let us hope this trend of building schools and other resources continue in our communities.
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