Takes on Takes on Takes
Or, what if sometimes violence *is* the answer?
Well. My first post was going to be about the process of getting diagnosed with ADHD as a 36 year-old Black woman, but that will have to wait because a *thing* has happened and the response to it is bringing up a lot of thoughts and feelings, so I’ve got to write them off of my chest.
I didn’t watch the Oscars live. I was actually re-watching Tales from the Hoodand idly scrolling through Twitter when I saw the full foreign broadcast footage (with audio!) of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock. And I. Fucking. CACKLED. And I generally like Chris Rock, as much as I can like a comedian who I grew up watching who occasionally makes misogynistic and ableist jokes and allows his white comedian/pervert friends to say “nigga.” But I’m very tired of Black women having to sit and smile a strained smile while someone makes fun of us or diminishes our accomplishments, and everyone else either laughs or doesn’t say anything to stop them, and later message to say that sucked, but you handled it gracefully and let me know how I can support! You can support us by building a time machine, going back to that moment, and being useful - I mean, for better or worse, Will made a very clear and succinct point that everyone understood, which is more than I can say for any other take I’ve read, including the one you’re reading right now.
For the low low cost of burying your very human feelings and reactions until they manifest in some way that threatens your life, you, too, can be called “graceful” and “classy” by your weak-willed, mealy-mouthed peers who parrot the phrase “violence is never the answer” like they’re still in elementary school!
Yeah, Jada’s been public about her struggles, but that doesn’t mean that she wasn’t feeling insecure about going to the biggest event of the year for her industry with a bald head because her auto-immune disorder has taken a part of her body out of her control. I also have no idea what this incident has to do with you thinking her head looks good, Will and Jada’s entanglements, them being rich, or their supposed connections to Scientology, but when you bring those unrelated things up I can only assume that you’re looking for a reason to not empathize with Jada. Go ask yourself why your first fucking thought was not to empathize with the one person who definitely did not do anything wrong in this situation?
Anyway, here’s my take on other takes that will eventually lead to my own take on how maintaining the standard passive aggressive operating procedure of white middle class people probably only benefits white middle class people and yes, I’m also going to make it about me, but also about you and really, us.
The “It’s Just Jokes!” Take
Comedians. So, either:
The joke was pre-written either by Rock or someone on the writing team (but if it was a writer, someone at his level probably would have had final approval), which means they knew that Jada would have a close shave because:
She’s been rocking it at all of the other awards shows her and Will have been at this awards season, and;
she’s been open for the past four years about the short hair being due to her struggles with alopecia, or;
no one researched why a woman working in one of the most shallow industries in the world, from a culture that CHRIS ROCK KNOWS places a lot of value on hair, was bald.
OR the joke was a last minute addition by the writers or an ad-lib by Rock after seeing Jada, meaning IF I’M BEING CHARITABLE they didn’t know if she had a close shave because:
she wanted to, or;
she was struggling with unwanted hair loss, or;
she was going through something like cancer treatments, yanno, sort of like how the internet made fun of Chadwick Boseman for having lost so much weight when he was, in fact, DYING OF CANCER???
Either way: no
Would people be acting less obtuse about this if Jada’s head was shaved due to cancer treatment? Because if I hadn’t already known that she had alopecia that would have been my first thought upon seeing her, and I don’t know why anyone would take the risk of joking about it other than to say that she looked amazing. It feels like people don’t think that her actual medical condition was serious enough to warrant such a defense. But my most basic of points is that commenting on someone’s sudden or drastic change of appearance can go terribly wrong if you don’t know why they look different, and if you’re reading this you’re an adult who should fucking know that. Like, at best it’s a flattering joke, but at worst it’s an ableist insult that gets your shit rocked?
I remember years ago, a larger woman who I follow on Twitter had cancer and lost a lot of weight. An acquaintance, not close enough to know, ran into her and complimented how thin she had gotten and asked how she did it. “Chemo.” There was an appalling number of replies from people with similar stories. Wwwwhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyy??? Sure, you can say “well, she didn’t know” but I’d argue that not knowing is exactly the reason why she should have kept her fucking mouth shut. Don’t we learn this lesson as little kids when our parents shush us from asking the first visibly disabled person we’ve ever seen a bunch of rude ass questions?
I, too, have been the Black woman, enjoying a show while supporting her partner, humiliated by a Black male comedian who made a comment about her body, in a room full of white people who laughed at my expense. Except my (white) ex-partner did not say or do anything about it and so I just laughed it off even though I kinda wanted to cry. But a lot of Black male comedians over the decades have earned money and fame off of making fun of or imitating Black women for white laughter, so I guess I should be glad that I could contribute to his success?
Please go to hell.
The “I’m Better Than That!” Take
This is a thing that white people could have stayed out of, but they never stay out of anything so now I have to yell at them. It may pain white men that this rich, famous, Black man got away with doing something that they can’t (unless they are also rich and famous, then they can rape a child and still get an Oscar), but being appalled that Will wasn’t immediately dragged away in handcuffs and charged with assaultis…well, actually I guess that’s exactly what I’d expect - nothing but sanctimonious posturing from the people who taught us how to be civilized 🤗
Some white man on Twitter said that his mother lost her hair after doing chemo treatments, but if someone had made fun of her head he would have just laughed it off. I didn’t screenshot it because it shocked me so badly I had to close the app. I don’t even know how to fightand I would have tried to fuck someone up over that. To proudly hit SEND on that tweet like it’s saying anything other than “I’m a coward who wouldn’t even defend my mother’s feelings while she fights for her life”? Now I want to slap him on her behalf!
There is literally nothing that white men are above doing. They’re just afraid because they know that if someone slapped the shit out of them every time they did an -ism, they’d actually have to pay attention to how they talk to and treat people.
So, there are two dramatic series’ that I’m working towards writing pilots for, and both of them involve a protagonist deciding that in their respective situations, murder is the only way that they will receive justice for the violence that has been done to them and/or someone they loved. Seems drastic, no? But these are drastic situations. One involves the serial murders of Black women. The other involves two children who were handed off to very wealthy pedophiles for years, and as an adult one of them hunts the men down one by one and kills them. In both cases, the police are useless because I’m a realist. Both characters, Black women, find themselves bucking against the status quo of non-violence because no one else cares to do anything about the violence that was done to them, or prevent it from happening to someone else in the future.
And I think I’m questioning the idea of violence never being the answer because in real life, the most vulnerable, victimized, marginalized people are rarely protected or receive justice for the ways that they are harmed, and everyone else just…applauds them for being nice about it? For smiling through the pain, shame, humiliation, anger that they’re feeling? For the low low cost of burying your very human feelings and reactions until they manifest in some way that threatens your life, you, too, can be called “graceful” and “classy” by your weak-willed, mealy-mouthed peers who parrot the phrase “violence is never the answer” like they’re still in elementary school! I’m tired.
Is it the actual violence that causes people to lose their sympathy, or are they just looking for an excuse to not sympathize and breaking a social norm is that excuse? We’re paying police departments to operate like murderous gangs, but you’ve lost sympathy for protestors because a few of them smashed some windows and started fires. People kidnap and force women and children into sex work every day, but one of those victims killing their trafficker or rapists is a bridge too far. LGBTQ people face the possibility of assault every day, but defending themselves against attackers can get them accused of committing a hate crime against a straight man. Because violence isn’t the answer. Is being “nice” is the answer? It doesn’t seem to be working.
When everyone believes something without question, it makes me consider who that belief actually benefits. Because it’s never kept the state nor companies nor individuals from being violent against those who can’t defend themselves, has it? But it has kept a lot of those victims from retaliating, aside from maybe calling the police and maybe succeeding in getting someone sent to jail.
In response to the above prompt, once. Not when some man was masturbating while staring at me in broad daylight at the Canal & Broad streetcar stop, with a bunch of people standing around pretending not to notice. Not in the food stamp line with dozens of other people when some man was verbally harassing me, then slobbered all over my eyelid in an attempt to forcibly kiss me. Not during the many times I was harassed by a coworker in his mid-twenties when I was working at Target at sixteen. There are other “nots” that I’ve blocked out or don’t want to write about.
The one time a man stood up for me was when my former boss got blackout drunk and tried to assault me in my own bed, and I called my elderly friend who lived across the courtyard to come rescue me. And he did, seemingly in seconds. If I had to pick only one time to ever be stood up for in that way it would have been that time, but I’m not sure there’s supposed to be a limit.
The “It’s All About Me!” Take
White women. Please. These takes are so bizarre that I’m now convinced that a lot of you don’t actually know how an abusive man behaves, which is why your little sisters are on Reddit asking internet strangers everything short of “is it abuse if your boyfriend punches you in the face???” Please go help those poor girls and leave us alone!
I’ve never been abused by a partner, thankfully. But as someone who has read many articles and listened to many, many, (many) anecdotes about the darkest parts of humanity, one of the things that I’ve observed is that:
most men who hit women are absolute cowards when it comes to fighting other men.
most men who abuse their partners in any way find it *hilarious* when their partners are humiliated, because it further puts them in their place.
Are these silly bitches?
Ohhh, right. It’s the internet, and everyone has to have a take, so they can get the engagement, so they can justify what they get paid for whatever opportunities they have or want. So a thing happens, and they immediately need to tweet a take. Any take! And they end up grasping at that ol’ status quo: violence is *never* the answer. But they need to make it personal so it goes viral, so they decide to capitalize on their own history (or someone else’s) with violent men, context and logic be damned! And so they end up passive aggressively implying that Will Smith maybe possibly could be but I don’t know! a domestic abuser like the one they know.
Y’all borrow Black vernacular like “fuck around and find out” to sound cool and then go “oh, no, not like that!” when someone, in fact, finds out. You sound like fucking clowns and this is why a lot of Black women do not trust you as the authorities on feminism that you love to present yourselves as - most of you don’t know shit outside of your own limited perspective as the second or sometimes third most privileged group of people in this country, and do nothing but uphold the straight, white, middle class status quo, even when you call yourselves progressive and intersectional. Because, really, the feminism stakes are not high enough for you - if all else fails, you can just attach yourself to the nearest white dick and sacrifice freedom for security.
White people who I’m Facebook friends with: after seeing some of your (unsolicited, uninformed, unnecessary) responses to this incident I cannot express how much I hate that you like me. It makes me question if I actually am the person who I think I am, or am I just another nigger who you find palatable. I wonder if that’s how Will felt when he heard a room full of his and Jada’s peers laughing at her?
Not a discern in sight!
Taking Off My Mask (or, Now It’s All About Me)
I’m autistic. I have not put this in writing before, but there it is. I started to suspect this when I first learned about Asperger’s syndromein high school, but getting diagnosed has never been a priority because it’s not like there’s a pill I can take to understand social nuances and how to interact with other people better, and after all of the difficulty I had getting diagnosed with ADHD, I’m good on fighting to get diagnosed with another disorder that psychiatrists think only effects white male children. My current psychiatrist gave me a basic assessment and was like “yeah, probably” and that’s good enough for me.
Masking, if you don’t know, is very similar to code switching. Basically, when in Rome (everywhere that isn’t my apartment) I act as the Romans do (even though I think the Romans have made up very silly social rules that they don’t even follow themselves) so I can make that Roman coin (you know what that is) and have some Roman friends (some of you neurotypicals are ok) and get some Roman dick (none of you men are ok). I (think) that I mask relatively well - I’ve spent my entire life observing and mimicking you other humans, to the point where I’m now forcing myself to re-learn who I am when no one is around. But also, I spent much of my child and teen years being a doormat so people would like me, and much of my twenties being painfully naïve about both friends’ and lovers’ motivations towards me, to the point of humiliation and assault.
I tell you all of this to say that I am someone who society has repeatedly failed to defend and protect because of my various undesirable identities. So when I see someone, with a similar identity, being defended by another person, I can’t help but be happy that at least that person is valued by someone who is willing to risk something on their behalf. Because most of you aren’t even willing to risk a harsh tone.
I hate the idea that it’s automatically misogynistic or patriarchal or toxic for a man to defend a woman. And I especially hate that white women, a group that has always been protected, often to the detriment of entire Black communities, think that they have any fucking right to decide for the rest of us that we don’t need to be protected.
I often freeze in the moment when something unexpectedly uncomfortable, embarrassing, or scary happens, because it takes me longer to process. I need a partner who can recognize when that’s happening and know that they need to step in. I need someone who will defend me. And I don’t see it as patriarchal because I will do the same thing for them when they need me to. Why aren’t we defending each other more?
The End (Finally. If You’re Tired of Reading This, Imagine How Tired I Am of Writing It)
Look. Sometimes people deserve, at the very least, an open-handed slap. You’ve never watched a clip of someone losing their shit in a way that makes no sense, and thought “man, if someone had slapped this person the first time they behaved this way they wouldn’t be 40 years-old screaming at a teenaged barista”? Lies. And for me, the math is very clear:
a Black man + making fun of a Black woman’s + hair + which is gone + for (charitably) unknown reasons + in a room full + of laughing white people + at the Hollywood prom + which is internationally televised + while referencing a middling late 90s film = it’s 👋🏿 slapping 👋🏿 time 👋🏿 bitch
a film that definitely believes that sometimes violence is warranted
I may have been under the influence
or was it full on “nigger”?
but fyi if they were Scientologists, Jada would have never had Leah Remini on her show because like many cults, they practice shunning
do not contact me about your why, I do not care
in this case my big ass, not a disability (unless your chairs are very small)
I wouldn’t expect a bunch of white people to be knowledgeable enough to know who Saartjie Baartman was, but he should have
jk, he’s still not successful
despite assault typically being the kind of charge that needs to be pursued by the victim
why did a woman who used to keep razor blades in her hair just in case she got into a fight, raise me to not know how to throw a punch???
and once I find an affordable kickboxing class out here in LA, you’d better believe it’s slapping time
afterwards another man who watched the whole thing complimented me on “keeping my cool.” it’s called disassociating, sir
Asperger was a Nazi and calling myself “high-functioning” makes me sound like an asshole, so I prefer to just say “I’m autistic”